With a comprehensive performance in the opening match of IPL 2017, the defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad, proved that they will take some effort to beat after comfortably defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore in the season opener.
While the rematch of last year’s IPL final was expected to be a cracker of a contest, injuries took considerable sheen away from the event with top stars like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers not playing a part in the game.
Once the defending champions got off to a good start, they just didn’t look back. While the boys from Bangalore also put up a good fight, the target eventually proved too tall a task for them. Overall, it was an engrossing affair and a great start to the tenth season of the IPL.
Here’s a look at 5 talking points from the match.
#5 Rashid Khan’s debut
The cricket fans of an entire nation must have been looking forward to this young lad’s performance. At just 18 years of age, Rashid Khan proved that he has a bright cricketing brain and the talent to take on some of the best players in the world.
The young Afghan bowled with a lot of heart and wasn’t afraid of pitching the ball up within sweeping range of some pretty dangerous batsmen. He displayed his variations and impressed on his IPL debut, picking two important wickets.
Mandeep Singh was tricked by the trajectory of a quicker one in the debutant's first over, while Travis Head paid the price for playing against the turn of a googly.
#4 Yuzvendra Chahal’s commendable bowling performance
Among the ruins of the RCB bowling attack, Yuzvendra Chahal stood tall as he has done so many times in the past. Although he had the worst average against Sunrisers among all opposition sides in the IPL, he did make amends to that statistic by picking up the important wicket of Moises Henriques.
While other bowlers were being smashed to all parts of the ground, Chahal bowled his quota of 4 overs, giving away just 22 runs. Chahal was, by far, the most economical bowler amongst both sides.
If not for his fantastic spell, the Royal Challengers might well have been out of the contest at the halfway mark.
#3 Poor fielding by RCB
Except for Mandeep Singh and Sachin Baby, the rest of the RCB team fielded like a bunch of schoolboys. While Mandeep saved a certain six with an outstanding effort on the boundary, a much easier attempt was tipped over the boundary by Chahal. Ground fielding was sloppy and chances were missed by the bagfuls.
None of those missed chances would have hurt as much as the one off Yuvraj Singh when he was on 26. Henriques should have been run out in the third over for 10, he eventually made 52. In contrast, the Sunrisers made difficult catches look easy and also effected two run-outs.
#2 Yuvraj-Henriques partnership
Yuvraj came out to join Moises Henriques at the fall of Shikhar Dhawan's wicket. It was just past the halfway mark of the innings, and Sunrisers had already got off to a blistering start. In under five overs, the left hand-right hand combination smashed 58 runs. When Henriques was finally dismissed, the score read 151 in the sixteenth over.
Some late order hitting, especially by Yuvraj and Ben Cutting, pushed the Sunrisers past the psychological barrier of 200. However, the foundations for such a mammoth score were laid in the middle overs, where both batsmen were busy at the crease and kept picking singles and twos when not hitting the ball out of the park.
#1 Kedar Jadhav’s run out
Buoyed by an explosive start, the Royal Challengers did manage to put up a fair fight, at least in the first half of their innings. Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Travis Head and Kedhar Jadhav, all got off to quick starts and it looked like as long as they kept their scoring rate up without losing too many wickets, they might have pulled off an unlikely victory.
Retribution for last year’s IPL defeat, however, was not to be for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Ben Cutting’s brilliant run-out of Kedhar Jadhav signalled the beginning of the end for RCB.
Once Jadhav was dismissed, the rest of the batsmen could not put up much of a fight. The asking rate proved too much even for the experienced Shane Watson.