Cricket

Dhawan, Kaul dismiss RR challenge


IPL 2018

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Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson put on an unbeaten 121-run stand for the second wicket © BCCI

A clinical bowling performance helped Sunrisers Hyderabad trounce Rajasthan Royals with a nine-wicket win to get their IPL 2018 campaign off to a winning start in front of their home fans on Monday (April 9). RR managed just 125 for 9 after Shakib Al Hasan, Siddarth Kaul and Rashid Khan dismantled the batting line-up before the hosts polished off the chase in 15.5 overs.

How was RR’s return?

In one word – disappointing. A line-up that was being talked up ahead of IPL 2018, failed in unison. The Royals think-tank was being credited for their shrewd auction strategy where they assembled a line-up of power-packed batsmen. However, D’Arcy Short, captain Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler scored a total of 28 out of the 125 for 9 the team managed. The game was lost there.

The big buys – Stokes (5 and no wicket for 21 in two) and Jaydev Unadkat (1 for 28 in three) – failed to create an impact in the chase.

Is the team that bad?

Not really. Once the big four in the batting line-up start clicking, things are certain to fall into place for RR. Sanju Samson scored 49 and looked in fine touch. The visitors missed Jofra Archer, who is recovering from an injury, for the clash. Once the allrounder is back, Rahul Tripathi, who batted at No. 5, is more than likely to find himself in his preferred position – opening with Ajinkya Rahane. Short, unfortunately, seems the candidate most likely to warm the bench then.

Just how good are SRH at home?

Exceptional. In the last season, SRH lost just one game at home. Their bowlers were on song while SRH weren’t forced to look past the top three in the chase. Having opted to bat, Billy Stanlake bowled with some serious pace early on and was quite unlucky to not get more than a wicket. Rashid Khan continued to fox the batsmen while Shakib Al Hasan seems to be an outstanding addition to the team. He picked up 2 for 23 while Siddarth Kaul gave away just 17 from his four overs and bagged two sticks. The bowlers never really allowed the RR batsmen to settle down and kept tightening the noose as the game progressed.

How did the new captains fare?

Rahane was leading RR for the first time while David Warner’s absence has pushed Kane Williamson – who was also leading SRH for the first time – to a better place. In the last edition, Williamson played a crucial role SRH getting to the play-offs from the sidelines. He now gets to run the show and showed why he’s rated as one of the best minds in cricket at the moment.

His bowling changes were well timed and well thought off. RR’s collapse, of course, helped him but the decision to hold back Kaul and finish off Rashid and Stanlake helped the team stay ahead.

Rahane, on the other hand, not only failed with the bat but also as a fielder. Things could have been significantly different had he not dropped Shikhar Dhawan at first slip in the very first over. As it turned out, the SRH opener was yet to open his account then and went on to make unbeaten 77 to help the team cruise in chase. The cushion of not having a lot of runs on the board didn’t help Rahane’s cause either.

Where do they go from here?

Big match coming up for RR as they take on Delhi Daredevils in front of their home crowd on April 11. SRH, meanwhile, will wait for Mumbai Indians and play that match a day later on April 12.

Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 125/9 in 20 overs (Sanju Samson 49; Siddarth Kaul 2-17) lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad 127/1 in 15.5 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 77*) by nine wickets.

© Cricbuzz

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