Sunrisers defend 134 with ease
Sunrisers Hyderabad 134 for 9 (Dhawan 33, Watson 3-13, Bhatia 3-23) beat Rajasthan Royals 102 (Bhuvneshwar 4-14, Steyn 2-31) by 32 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sunrisers Hyderabad had done this in their inaugural IPL season in 2013 as well. Their batsmen would struggle to a middling total, but the bowlers would come out and defend it with considerable margins to spare. They did it again in Ahmedabad tonight. Their batting crumbled after a strong start of 55 for 1 to post 134 for 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed Ajinkya Rahane off the third ball of the chase, and Royals were never allowed to get away. Just how difficult Sunrisers made it was evident from the fact that Royals managed one boundary after the seventh over.
Karun Nair and Sanju Samson had hit a few till that point, against the pace of Dale Steyn too. The second-wicket stand was soon cut short on 27 by the fast bowler when he had Nair caught behind with an outswinger. That was to be the only partnership that held promise for Royals.
The legspinners Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma were brought on, and Royals stalled. Samson stepped out in Karn's first over to be bowled by a straighter one. Despite no pressure yet from the asking-rate, Royals kept going for their shots. Moises Henriques had spent six games on the bench for Sunrisers. He was included tonight in place of Darren Sammy, and had Watson caught behind on the cut with his third ball.
From 41 for 4, Steven Smith and Stuart Binny were tied down by the legspinners. Mishra had been comically run out earlier after getting reprieved twice off the same delivery. He has been uncharacteristically expensive this season, and was left out for Sunrisers' previous match. He hit back with a spell of four overs on the trot for 13 runs. The batsmen were unable to pick his googly, and he was unfortunate not to have had Binny ruled caught behind.
Royals continued to slip when David Warner found Binny short with a direct hit after a slow 37-run stand. The asking-rate touched almost 11 by the time Mishra finished in the 15th over, and Steyn had Smith holing out in the deep for 22 off 33 in the next over. Bhuvneshwar ran through the lower order to finish with 4 for 14.
Royals seemed to have set up a straightforward chase for themselves at the halfway mark. Shikhar Dhawan had begun with a flurry of boundaries through the off side in an opening partnership worth 37 in four overs. However, for the fourth time in seven innings, he fell in the thirties, bowled by Shane Watson off the last ball of the fourth over.
Rajat Bhatia's slower ones were hard to score off again, and Sunrisers lost Aaron Finch, KL Rahul and Naman Ojha to him. David Warner was shunted down to No 5 to try and shore up the middle order, but was done in by Pravin Tambe's googly.
As if all these setbacks were not enough, Sunrisers lost Henriques and Karn off successive balls to give Watson a hat-trick when he came back in the 17th for his second over. Irfan Pathan scraped an unbeaten run-a-ball 21, but it was the bowlers' fight that was to win it for Sunrisers.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo