Sunrisers Hyderabad 201 for 5 (Warner 69, Bairstow 45, Shreyas Gopal 3-27) beat Rajasthan Royals 198 for 2 (Samson 102*, Rahane 70, Rashid 1-24) by five wickets
Rajasthan Royals may wonder how they lost this one. Their No. 3 Sanju Samson struck a sublime 102 not out off 55 balls. During the course of that knock, he had also shared a 119-run partnership off 75 balls, with captain Ajinkya Rahane. With the ball, legspinner Shreyas Gopal even took 3 for 27 - by a distance the best figures of the match. And yet, despite having had the best innings of the game, the biggest partnership, and the best bowler, Royals lost by a distance - Sunrisers Hyderabad having an entire over and five wickets to spare when the winning runs were hit.
Where Royals had star individual performances, Sunrisers made better use of their resources across the board. Royals only had four batsmen take strike, but Sunrisers were better able to use their depth, because their top order batsmen took more chances. David Warner, for instance, had bludgeoned 67 off 36 balls and had motored his team to a position where they were well ahead of the required rate, and yet, continued to take chances, perhaps knowing there was plenty of firepower to come. He caught on the fine leg boundary off the 37th ball he faced.
Jonny Bairstow, who was involved in a 110-run opening stand off 58 deliveries with Warner, and Vijay Shankar - who made 35 off 15 - were similarly adventurous, despite having propelled their team to positions of strength. They trusted the batsmen below them.
Royals, meanwhile, had slow-ish periods of their innings. The Powerplay brought them only 35 runs, perhaps a consequence of Jos Buttler having lost his wicket in that period. Even the next three overs yielded modest returns - Royals sitting at 62 for 1 after 9 overs.
Sunrisers still had to orchestrate their highest successful chase ever, beating the 188 they had made against Delhi Daredevils last year, but had Royals taken more risks at the top of their innings, Sunrisers may have had to chase even more than 199.
Key innings for Sunrisers
Warner set the tone for the chase, hitting the first ball of the innings for four past fine leg, and the fourth ball for six over midwicket. In fact, each of the first eight boundaries of the innings - seven fours and that six - came off Warner's bat. Opening partner Bairstow did soon find his own rhythm as well, and even though the two were dismissed in successive overs - the 10th and 11th of the innings - they had put Sunrisers on track.
Vijay Shankar, coming in at No. 4 ensured they stayed on that track, hitting three sixes and a four in his 15-ball stay, in which he made 35.
Even a serious middle-overs stutter, during which three Sunrisers batsmen were out for three runs, could not derail the good work these batsmen had done.
Rashid Khan watch
Arguably the best T20 cricketer on the planet made sure to impose himself on this game as well. First, he bowled the imperious Jos Buttler behind his legs in the fourth over. He then completed an outstanding spell, conceding only a run-a-ball.
When Sunrisers had their middle-order batting stutter, Rashid showed he could hold his nerve with the bat as well. Coming in at No. 7, Rashid struck vital boundaries to kill the game. With eight runs needed off eight deliveries, Rashid drilled an attempted Jofra Archer yorker for four through cover, then struck him high into the stands beyond deep square leg to seal the match. Rashid made 15 off 8 balls with the bat.
The batting highlight
Wrists. Every batsman has them. Almost no one weaponises them to the extent that Sanju Samson did in the most spectacular over of the match - the 18th of Royals' innings, bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The serenely-struck six over long off first ball was glorious enough, but it was Samson's four fours square on the offside that were the gems that studded his innings. Bhuvneshwar didn't do a lot wrong, really. All four of those deliveries were very nearly yorker length, and they weren't too far wide of off stump. Samson, though, kept getting low and carving them majestically, either side of point. So graceful was he, the shots brought to mind the artistry of a VVS Laxman or Mahela Jayawardene.
The fours came two at a time during a stretch of five deliveries. With a legside two breaking up that sequence, Samson reaped 24 from the over, and although Royals seemed destined for a score of about 180 for the majority of their innings, that over put something closer to 200 in their sights.
Samson was outstanding, striking at over 185. Perhaps it was Rahane, who made 70 off 49 (a strike rate of 143), who needed to take more risks earlier on.