Rising Pune Supergiant 148 for 8 (Stokes 39, Smith 34, Dhoni 31, Kaul 4-29) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 136 for 9 (Yuvraj 47, Warner 40, Unadkat 5-30, Stokes 3-30) by 12 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat have been pivotal to Rising Pune Supergiant's surge up the IPL points table, and their efforts on a dry, up-and-down pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium led them to second with a 12-run win against Sunrisers Hyderabad. It was Sunrisers' first home defeat of the season.
Stokes energised a moribund Pune innings with 39 off 25 balls, and his innings, along with 31 off 21 from MS Dhoni, gave them a total of 148 and a fighting chance. Then, bowling cross-seam and extracting inconsistent bounce, Stokes took three key wickets - Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson and David Warner - to ensure Sunrisers never took control of the chase.
They were never entirely out of it either, though, and when Unadkat began the last over, they needed 13 runs with four wickets in hand. Incredibly, Unadkat bowled a maiden and took a hat-trick to end with figures of 5 for 30.
Won't concede boundaries, won't take catches
The first big moment of the game was a bit of quality fielding. Rahul Tripathi, flicking Ashish Nehra to the left of short fine-leg, set off immediately. Perhaps he didn't factor in Bipul Sharma's left-handedness. Bipul moved quickly to the ball, took aim, and hit direct at the striker's end with Tripathi not even close to regaining his ground.
It was the only bit of quality fielding in the Powerplay, though; Bipul dropped a sitter at the same position to let off Steven Smith, Siddarth Kaul did not move at mid-on when Ajinkya Rahane spooned a possible catch towards him, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, diving to his left at short fine leg, gave Smith a second life.
Maybe it was deliberate from Sunrisers, for apart from a Rahane six over long-on, off Moises Henriques, there were no boundaries in the first 10 overs. There was little attacking intent as well, with Rahane and Smith content to milk leg-side singles for most part. After 10 overs, Rising Pune were 51 for 2.
Stokes, Dhoni and the power difference
Smith ended up facing 39 balls without hitting a four or a six. At the post-match presentation, he noted the difficulty of timing the ball, and praised the contributions of his team's "stronger boys". Stokes was one of them - he hit three sixes in his 39 - and MS Dhoni the other.
Before this game, against the quicker bowlers, Dhoni had scored 75 off 35 balls when they had pitched it full or short, but only 43 off 52 balls off the in-between lengths. Initially, the Sunrisers seamers kept pitching it on a good length or just short of a good length, and Dhoni was batting on 10 off 14 balls at the 18-overs mark. Uncharacteristically, it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who lost his length, feeding him two short balls and an overpitched wide ball in the 19th over, and Dhoni spanked them for 4, 6 and 6.
The cross-seam masterclass
When Stokes came into the attack, Sunrisers were 25 for 0 after two expensive overs from Unadkat, who kept providing width to Dhawan and Warner, and two quiet overs from Washington Sundar, who kept denying them width. Stokes struck with his first ball and his third, both legcutters. One, bowled cross-seam, hit the shiny side, skidded low, and bowled Dhawan. The other, hitting the seam, bounced extra and kissed Williamson's glove.
Giving himself room against Washington in the next over, Warner hit the offspinner for three fours, but Stokes made sure Sunrisers wouldn't claw things back too quickly, only conceding two off his second over.
Unadkat ends Sunrisers fightback
Taking Stokes' cue, Shardul Thakur and Daniel Christian mixed up slower balls with cross-seam deliveries, and in tandem with Imran Tahir kept Warner and Yuvraj Singh relatively quiet, with the odd boundary keeping the teams neck-and-neck. Stokes returned in the 13th over and derived extra bounce again; Warner failing to keep down a slash, picked out sweeper cover. When Tahir bowled Henriques with a googly, Sunrisers needed 53 from 36.
By the time Unadkat came back to bowl the 18th over, the equation read 32 off 18, with Yuvraj on 47. Both Yuvraj and Naman Ojha fell in that over, caught by sweeper cover, failing to generate enough power against Unadkat's slower ball.
Three twos in Stokes' final over left Sunrisers needing 13 off 6. They would end up getting 0 for 3 off those six balls, their lower order finding no way of dealing with Unadkat's slower ball. He kept pitching them at a length that was too short to hit down the ground and not short enough to pull. Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all holed out, one after another, getting far more elevation and far less distance than they desired, and what should have been a tense final over turned into a rout.