SRH vs RR: Turn in tale dew to spin

Pacers rely on slow bouncers early on but spinners steal the show on a dewless night
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Shahbaz Ahmed celebrate a wicket against Rajasthan Royals
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Shahbaz Ahmed celebrate a wicket against Rajasthan Royals(Photo | Ashwin Prasath)

CHENNAI: The multiple smoke machines around the MA Chidambaram Stadium had just let out smoke for a third time in the Rajasthan innings. At some level, it also seemed poetic. Their innings was seemingly going up in flames. Chasing 176 against Hyderabad to earn the right to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final against Kolkata on Sunday, they were in a jam. Sanju Samson, who had got off to a sedate start, tried to take on the part-time spin of Abhishek Sharma.

The end result was a sliding catch by Aiden Markram at long on for a 11-ball 10. An acceptable 1/66 off 7.3 overs had become 3/66 in a five-ball stretch thanks to the exploits of two genteel left-arm finger spinners — Shahbaz Ahmed and Abhishek.

While Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin had returned wicketless (none for 77 in eight overs), Ahmed and Sharma were getting the ball to grip and turn off the surface. If the pitch was relatively docile for the spinners in the opening stanza, it had decidedly become a slightly venomous snake within the next hour or so. The much advertised dew — one of the main reasons Samson had no hesitation in opting to field first in the second qualifier on Friday night — was largely absent for vast swathes of the chase.

What happened? On the broadcast, they showed that the wind factor had increased. Considering there is a direct correlation between changes in the atmosphere and the dew, the latter had abruptly tapered off in the second innings. Around the beginning of the chase, the commentators were talking about the absence of dew. The wheels on the rover camera also backed up that observation; it was largely dry.

In the first innings, the ball wasn’t turning for the spinners so they opted to fire it in. It was so different in the chase that Pat Cummins gave Markram the ball as his off-spin was a positive match-up against Shimron Hetmyer. One of his deliveries pitched and turned so much that the West Indian’s bat swing was in a different postcode. By that time, the chase was already in last chance saloon as Ahmed had nipped out both Riyan Parag and Ashwin in a game-shifting 12th over of the match.

With the ball slightly holding on the surface, Parag did not get the distance on his attempted pull over wide long on. His left-arm spin partner, Sharma, completed a regulation catch. Three balls later, the local boy perished in predictable circumstances. After failing to get bat on ball on two deliveries that left him after pitching, the third one got the outside edge before Klaasen accepted the offering. It was some sight to watch one of Chennai’s own failing to read the turn after pitching. It was in a period of play when they lost 5/36 in 40 balls. As it turned out, it was a great toss to lose for Cummins.

Apart from thanking Sharma and Ahmed, Cummins will also reserve a pat on the back for Rahul Tripathi, who took the game on in the first innings. Tripathi was Suryakumar Yadav-lite in the way he accessed some of the boundaries behind square on the leg side. Once, he cleared the shorter boundary — 61m, compared to the 72m on the longer side — off a rare Ashwin full toss. He also cleared the longer side off Trent Boult when he slightly erred in line when bowling from the Pavillion End. Those rubbery wrists off his did the rest as he dispatched it over long leg. Off the next ball, the Kiwi speedster overcompensated. Tripathi was waiting and crashed him through square on the off side. Tripathi did leave the next over but Samson’s men ran into a patient Klaasen. The bowlers -- Sandeep Sharma and Avesh Khan, especially -- had done well to put the brakes on the scoring but a measured 34-ball 50 (four sixes) lifted them to 175.

In the innings break, it felt like it was set to be a par minus score. But, in the end, they needn’t have worried. They rocked up and used the conditions perfectly as they bowled 55 dots (close to 50% of the innings) to close out the match by 36 runs. On Sunday, they will face Kolkata.

HOW THINGS TURNED

Rajasthan's spinners -- 0/77 in eight
Hyderabad's spinners -- 5/57 in nine
Average turn in first innings 1.8*
Average turn in second innings 3.3* 

Sunday's final -- Kolkata vs Hyderabad

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