Group B might still be the more open of the two groups, but Titans gave their chances of progressing quite a boost with a thumping victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Ranchi. That didn't look likely when Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel were belting some wayward bowling from Titans around in a rapid half-century opening stand, but, as has always been the worry for Sunrisers, their middle-order frailty was exposed and, this time, their bowlers failed to bail them out.
Captain Henry Davids, who has been prolific in most domestic games recently, and Jacques Rudolph - who had got into double digits only three times in his previous eight T20 innings - were involved in what was only the second century stand of the main tournament, as Titans chased down 146 without breaking a sweat. Davids took the early initiative, hitting six boundaries in the Powerplay, the highlight being an inside-hit off Dale Steyn over the covers for six. By the time he was dismissed for 64 in the 13th over, Titans needed just 34 more and Rudolph saw them through though he couldn't secure a half-century. Victory was sealed in the 17th over, with eight wickets to spare.
Sunrisers openers had got off to a similarly dominating start after being inserted. In their previous game, against Brisbane Heat, they had done superbly to defend 123, but before that a lack of discipline cost them dearly against Chennai Super Kings. They produced equally errant lines in this match, bowling consistently short and wide. Morne Morkel began with a relatively testing over to Parthiv Patel, angling the ball across him from over the wicket and inducing a couple of plays and misses. He then went round the wicket though, as did most of the bowlers, presumably to change the angle and cramp the two left-hand batsmen for room, but couldn't pull it off. Dhawan and Parthiv took advantage, lofting the repeated deliveries comfortably outside off stump over the infield.
Playing primarily in the air cost Dhawan when he picked out third man in the first over after the Powerplay. Seamer David Wiese was the bowler and, buoyed by that big wicket, he went on to turn the tide of the match. He had Parthiv bowled with a slower ball while hitting across the line and Hanuma Vihari caught brilliantly at midwicket with a well-directed short delivery.
The local batsmen continued to disappoint for Sunrisers. After Vihari was out for six, Biplab Samantray was stumped for no score, overbalancing while trying to flick a leg-side delivery. The three big overseas batting options, JP Duminy, Thisara Perera and Darren Sammy, also failed for Sunrisers - after Dhawan was dismissed, they managed just one boundary and 43 runs in 10 overs. Dhawan apart, they lost five more wickets in the same period.
A chunk of the credit for those wickets need go to Titans' sharp fielding. There was Davids' effort to dismiss Vihari - he had run across from midwicket to square leg and leapt to latch on to the skier - then there was Farhaan Behardien's spectacular take at long-off. Sammy had muscled the ball flat and hard in his direction, and Behardien must have been left with stinging palms as he jumped to intercept the rocketing ball. Keeper Mangaliso Mosehle then connected with a direct hit to send Perera back. If it hadn't been for some big hitting by Karn Sharma and Steyn in the final couple of overs - Steyn was particularly brutal on Marchant de Lange in the final over, making room and hitting two fours and two sixes - Titans' top order would have been even less tested than it was.