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JAIPUR: An Aussie double resulted in a Royal wallop for Sunrisers Hyderabad as Rajasthan kept their spotless home record intact with an eight-wicket win on Saturday evening.
After left-arm fast bowler James Faulkner claimed 5/20 in Hyderabad's bizarre first innings, Shane Watson erupted with an unbeaten 53-ball 98 in a successful chase, which was concluded with 13 balls to spare.
If they were disheartened and done in by having allowed Sunrisers to a challenging 144 from a precarious 29/6, Rajasthan didn’t show it. Nor did they let the rattling and subsequent dismissal of opener Ajinkya Rahane to get to them.
Watson and skipper Rahul Dravid (34) put on 74 to make the home team favourites again, before the Indian icon was caught by Hanuma Vihari at the deep mid-wicket boundary going for his second six.
Vihari got another tough chance in the next over, as Watson took the aerial route, but the ball dropped well short of him and raced through for a boundary.
It was still anybody’s game as Royals needed 56 off the last six overs and Ishant Sharma steamed in bowl. The lanky fast bowler was butchered for 20 by the well-set Watson, pulling down the required rate into the realms of the inconsequential.
Watson finished in a tearing hurry, deprived of another IPL hundred by the small target, but certainly not for lack of effort. His last 18 balls yielded 54 runs as he finished with 13 fours and four sixes, a game-changing knock in a crucial match.
House of cards
It was a miraculous recovery by the Sunrisers. Reduced to 29 for six in five overs by Faulkner and Chandila, the visitors’ batting card read like a pincode: 2, 0, 4, 4, 6, 4 – ascribed respectively to Akshath Reddy, Shikhar Dhawan, Kumar Sangakkara, Hanuma Vihari, Karan Sharma and Thisara Perera – as batsman after batsman departed to a slew of avoidable shots.
A majority of Faulkner’s five were victims of their own rashness. Starting with Akshath’s ungainly top-edge in Chandila’s first over of the game, Dhawan and Sangakkara perished to slashes outside off, while Vihari gloved down the leg-side.
Perrera and Sharma gave themselves up trying to hit out – this when the side was already in the pits! – and it was left to Sammy’s maiden Twenty20 fifty to extricate Hyderabad from their misery.
The West Indian skipper added 58 with Mishra (21) and 27 with Ashish Reddy (11) to salvage a staggering innings. Sammy’s fifty came off just 37 balls – inclusive of seven fours and a six - and he was out in the 19th over, leg-before to become Faulkner’s fifth victim. If it was respectability that Hyderabad were searching for, Steyn provided them that by clobbering 18 off the last over bowled by Kevon Cooper.
The South Africa speedster took 18 from the six deliveries, including a brutal six over long-on, giving himself something to defend. But even though he took an early wicket during a terrorizing opening spell, it wasn’t enough to prevent Watson from providing some decisive fireworks.