Hyderabad: The smiles were back on Sunrisers Hyderabad players’ faces. It was an occasion to celebrate as they not only halted their losing streak but also derailed the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-less Chennai Express with a six-wicket win at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Wednesday.
Dhoni was ruled out because of back spasm and it was not only a big blow to Chennai Super Kings but also to the huge fans, who had thronged the stadium. Electing to bat, the visitors managed 132 as a tight SRH attack set the tone in the first session. This time, SRH did not fumble in their modest run chase to record their fourth win of the tournament. This was CSK’s second loss after their defeat to Mumbai Indians. They, however, continue to top the table.
David Warner and Jonny Bairstow raised 66 runs at a rollicking pace. Continuing his good run, Warner belted the ball with a lot of power and timing. But after hitting his fifth 50 (24 balls, 10×4) this season, the Aussie left-hander departed immediately. Leg spinner Imran Tahir, who was hit for 14 runs in his first over, came back strongly to dismiss Kane Williamson in the next over.
Tahir continued his strong show with the ball as he had the ‘three-dimensional player’ Vijay Shankar caught behind. Fortunately, there were no further hiccups as a solid Bairtow guided SRH home. The English cricketer blazed away with some daring shots in his 44-ball unbeaten 61 (3×4, 3×6).
Earlier, Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis (45 off 31 balls; 3×4, 3×6) accumulated runs at a steady pace to put on 79 in 9.5 overs. SRH got the breakthrough in the 10th over with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who came in place of Abhishek Sharma, cleaning up Watson for 31 (29 balls, 4×4).
Vijay Shankar celebrated his selection to the World Cup by taking a wicket with his second delivery. He sent back du Plessis, who was beaten by the pace and was caught behind. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder, who has vastly been under-bowled in the tournament, excelled with his wicket-to-wicket bowling.
SRH were on top as leg spinner Rashid Khan won a DRS leg before decision against stand-in skipper Suresh Raina. The left-hander referred to third umpire and the replays showed the ball had struck in line with the stumps. The Afghan leg spinner, who has been struggling to take wickets this season, went on to scalp his second wicket and this time Kedar Jadhav was ruled LBW through DRS. According to Rashid, the wicket offered some grip and that suited his style.
In Dhoni’s absence, it was left to local hero Ambati Rayudu to shore up the CSK innings. But the hosts had the stranglehold of CSK. Sam Billings, who came in for Dhoni, lasted four balls before he spooned a catch to short covers off left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed, who finished his quota with figures of 4-0-22-1.
There was another DRS but since it was umpire’s call, left-hander Ravindra Jadeja survived against Rashid, who looked sharp in the match. But the value of Dhoni was all to be seen as Rayudu and Jadeja could manage 31 runs in the last five overs. Rayudu was to show his frustration when umpire Ulhas Gandhe did not rule a ‘bouncer’ as a wide-ball. This time square leg umpire Ian Gould stood with Gandhe’s decision unlike in the Jaipur’s Rajasthan Royal-CSK match where Bruce Oxenford overruled the main umpire’s call. It led to Dhoni losing his cool and storming onto the field.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was economical and so was Sandeep Sharma. Overall, it was a good all-show by SRH.