Sunrisers beat Royals, cement place for play-offs

Hyderabad, May 17 (IANS) Sunrisers Hyderabad brightened their chances of entering the semifinals of Indian Premier League (IPL) by beating Rajasthan Royals by 23 runs in a crucial tie at Rajiv Gandhi international stadium here Friday night.

Chasing a target of 137, Royals, who were playing their first match after the arrests of their three players in spot fixing scandal, could only score 113 for nine in 20 overs.

With two crucial points, Sunrisers have taken their tally to 18 and moved up to fourth position on the points table. If they win their last league match here against Kolkata Knight Riders, they will make it to the play-offs even if Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Chennai Super Kings in Bangalore Saturday.

The Sunrisers' win has eliminated the chances of Kings XI Punjab entering the semifinals.

The home team's bowlers bowled with discipline once again to defend a modest total. Amit Mishra, Karan Sharma, Dale Steyn and Thisara Perera bagged two wickets each.

Royals made a cautious start with Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane adding 39 runs for the first wicket before Dravid departed after he found himself short of the crease to a direct throw by his counterpart Cameron White in the eighth over.

Sunrisers had another breakthrough in the very next over when Rahane was held by Dhawan at deep cover while going for a big hit off Sharma.

Royals scored 30 off first five overs but the next five overs yielded only 14 runs with the loss of two wickets. Samson (5 off 7 balls) also departed in the 12th over while trying to hit over the top off Mishra but getting caught by Steyn at long-off. With 51 for three in 12th over, the visitors were in deep trouble.

With the asking rate climbing, the home side applied more pressure with runs coming only in singles.

Perera dealt a double blow in his second over (14th of the inning), first removing danger man Shane Watson by having him caught by Darren Sammy at long-on boundary and then cleaned bowled Stuart Binny, who was looking to hit second consecutive boundary.

Royals were now struggling at 65 for five in 14th over.

Mishra gave Sunrisers another breakthrough in 16th over by trapping Sachin Baby (3 off 7) before the wicket. Faulkner hit a six of Sharma but the spinner had the last laugh by sending him back to the very next delivery.

Steyn struck on the very first ball of his second spell to rattle Brad Hodge's stumps to virtually eliminate any chances of a resistance by Royals. Cooper hit 26 off 12 balls but it was not enough.

Earlier, Faulkner had a dream spell, claiming five for 16 as Royals restricted Sunrisers to 136. Electing to bat after winning the toss, Sunrisers reached 136 after being reduced to three for five in third over, thanks mainly to Biplab Samantray's 55 (46 balls, 6x4,1x6) and some useful contribution by Sammy (23) and Hanuma Vihari (19).

Royals took to the field confidently, dominating the game in the initial overs.

With a spell reading 4-1-16-5, Faulkner was simply unplayable. With 26 wickets in 14 matches, he has become the leading wicket taker this IPL season. It was the second five wicket haul for the Australian this IPL. He had claimed five for 20 against the same opponents in Jaipur.

Watson and Siddharth Trivedi claimed a wicket each while other bowlers also bowled with tight line and length to restrict the home team in their must-win match.

Sunrisers had a disastrous start, losing both the openers in the second over, bowled by Faulkner. Parthiv Patel was the first to depart when an inside edge rattled the stumps even as he was trying to steer it to third man. It was Faulkner's very first ball. He gave another vital breakthrough on the last ball of the over when Shikhar Dhawan mistimed a drive, only to be held at point by Rahane.

Captain White returned to pavilion on the very first ball he faced. He hooked Watson to fine-leg but Trivedi took a superb catch on the boundary. The home side lost three wickets in a span of 10 deliveries and were in deep trouble at 5 for 3 in third over.

Samantray hit Pravin Tambe for the first boundary in the fifth over, as he along with local boy Hanuma Vihari tried to steer the inning. They added 44 for the fourth wicket before Vihari (19 runs off 28 balls) tried to go for a big hit off Trivedi, only to give a high catch to Sachin Baby.

Playing only his sixth match of this season, Samantray looked in good touch as he along with Sammy rebuilt the inning. They added 56 runs in 35 deliveries before Sammy (23 off 19, 1x4,1x6) got out in the 17th over as Faulkener once again gave the visitors a vital breakthrough.

Joined by Perera at the other end, Samantray continued his good show to score his first 50 of the season, off 43 deliveries and it includes five fours and one six. The 24-year-old's previous best this season was 37 against Pune Warriors.

Faulkner struck again to remove Samantray in his fourth over and the 19th of the inning. He also claimed a wicket on the last ball of his spell by uprooting Steyn's stumps.

The home side could manage only 14 runs in the last two overs, losing four wickets, including two run outs in the final over.

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