BENGALURU: A lot of pride was at stake for Sunrisers Hyderabad when they faced Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Things have just not worked for them in this IPL, having won only two of their first 12 games and were the first team to be eliminated. However, it has been a completely different scenario for Virat Kohli and his men, winning matches consistently and helping them qualify for the playoffs with a couple of games to spare.
But Bangalore were not satisfied with that and rightly so as they have played some impressive cricket throughout. They have had their eyes on a top-two finish, which would grant them two cracks to reach the final. But Hyderabad has played spoilsport and dented their chances to a large extent as the 2016 champions won the close encounter by four runs. Having scored 141/7 in the first innings, Hyderabad restricted their opponents to 137/6.
It was Hyderabad's second win in the UAE leg of the competition. Most of the credit goes to the Hyderabad bowlers, who made good use of the conditions. Not only were they on the money, they mixed their deliveries well to make the run-scoring even more difficult and did not crumble under pressure too. With six runs needed off the last ball, Bhuvneshwar Kumar held his nerve as AB de Villiers managed a single only.
Chasing 142 to win, with the kind of batting line-up Bangalore have, they were expected to secure their ninth win of the season. But it was never going to be easy on a tricky surface, especially when they were tottering at 38/3. Bangalore pinned their hopes on Glenn Maxwell, who has been in rich form this season.
The Australian meant business when he struck a six off the second ball he faced and raced to 23 off 11 while Devdutt Padikkal was not able to find the fence. The southpaw’s poor strike rate did not help the case as well. What made matters worse was how pacer Umran Malik — clocking upwards of 150kmph — contained the duo in the middle overs. The required rate shot up to eight and when Kane Williamson ran out Maxwell, Hyderabad were in the driving seat. With experienced bowlers like Rashid Khan, Jason Holder and Bhuvneshwar at the end, even the much-fancied De Villiers failed to see his team home.
Equally, Jason Roy (44) and Williamson's (31) second-wicket partnership of 70 runs in the first innings needs a special mention. The duo played important knocks on a difficult surface to help them score 141/7, which proved to be enough for a narrow win.