Yet again, Sunrisers Hyderabad batting imploded from a position of strength, twice on the spin now. Yet again, Mumbai Indians snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Against Royal Challengers Bangalore three days ago, Sunrisers had slipped from 115/2 at one stage, chasing 150 for victory. Against Mumbai Indians today, they were 67/0 after seven overs, against a victory target of 151. In the end, MI won the match by 13 runs, bowling out their opponents in 19.4 overs.

The defending champions had bounced back in their last match against Kolkata Knight Riders when they looked almost dead and buried. Today, on a pitch of two halves, they made steady inroads once Jonny Bairstow was out. Rahul Chahar and Trent Boult took three wickets apiece. The excellent Jasprit Bumrah gave away just 14 runs in his four overs for a wicket. Hardik Pandya effected the run-outs of David Warner and Abdul Samad through direct hits. Yet again, MI played like five-time champions. Sunrisers, meanwhile, went deeper in the mire after three consecutive losses.

Scorecard – https://t.co/9qUSq70YpW #MIvSRH pic.twitter.com/4NOFJqVUqA

They made four changes for this game, which suggested desperation. Another batting capitulation might make them panic-stricken. All the while, Sunrisers missed Kane Williamson, almost back to his full fitness from an elbow injury but still not 100 per cent.

Bairstow and David Warner had started off the chase brilliantly. Sunrisers were 57/0 at the end of Powerplay and when Bairstow was out hit wicket for a 22-ball 43, they were well ahead in the game. But Manish Pandey played a poor shot to be dismissed off Chahar in the next over and his team started to surrender the initiative. Warner was still there and was growing into his innings. Hardik’s direct hit from cover sent him packing and the collapse started. Sunrisers middle-order didn’t have the wherewithal to get over the line after that, Vijay Shankar’s fight notwithstanding.

Chepauk so far has offered pitches of two halves in this IPL. When the ball is new and hard, batsmen can hit through the line, like Quinton de Kock drove Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the straight boundary to start off today’s proceedings. But it’s a different ball game, when the ball gets a little older. Even well-set batsmen have been struggling to stroke freely. The ball is not coming on to the bat and the bowlers have been revelling in taking pace off it.

MI’s Powerplay score was 53/0, a nice platform to press the accelerator. But even with some finest and classy hitters in their ranks, they struggled, once the ball started to grip on the surface. Rohit Sharma was the aggressor to start with. A four off a Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s carrom ball followed by a six off a googly next delivery was elegance personified. But there were some uncharacteristic slogs as well. The MI skipper rightly wanted to make the most of the Powerplay. But Shankar dismissed him with a delivery that almost didn’t arrive. Rohit cleared the front leg and attempted a slog, but the ball hit the lower half of the bat and went to deep mid-wicket.

Suryakumar Yadav hit a gorgeous four over extra cover against Shankar but chipped the next ball straight back to the bowler. Shankar knows Chepauk like the back of his hand. He wasn’t giving the batsmen any pace to play with. On the night when he was economical and getting wickets, Sunrisers captain probably missed a trick by not completing his quota.

As the game changed, MI’s chances of posting a big total depended on de Kock. He was the set batsman and had a life on 34. Also, the left-hander was using his 360-degree cricket well, scoring some cheeky boundaries. But trying to up the ante against Mujeeb, he, too, was holed out at deep mid-wicket. The spinner’s second spell was far better than his first, when conditions assisted him.

Rashid Khan was keeping the batsmen quiet at the other end, but MI still had Kieron Pollard and his sensible 22-ball 35 not out helped his team post a fighting total. From 53 for no loss after six overs, MI laboured to 133/5 after 19. Stroke-making suddenly became that difficult. Pollard, dropped on 18, strong-armed Kumar for back-to-back sixes in the final over. Twice on the spin, the bowler missed his length; very un-Kumar like.

Shamik Chakrabarty … read more

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