Sunrisers Hyderabad 155 for 2 (Abhishek 75, Tripathi 39*) beat Chennai Super Kings 154 for 7 (Moeen 48, Washington 2-21, Natarajan 2-30) by eight wickets
Sunrisers Hyderabad finally got on the board by chasing down 155 without any big contribution from their international stars, in the process consigning Chennai Super Kings to their fourth defeat in four games. It left the defending champions needing roughly eight wins from 10 matches to be hopeful of qualifying for the playoffs.
This win, with 15 balls to spare, was a significant one for Sunrisers because they hold a dodgy reputation as chasers. This was only their eighth win out of 22 matches chasing between 150 and 175, as against 157 out of 301 overall in the IPL. Abhishek Sharma, under pressure as opener, led the chase with 75 off 50, his first IPL fifty, and Rahul Tripathi supported him with 39 off 15. The international star, Kane Williamson, managed just 32 off 40.
Even though they don't have Rashid Khan anymore, Sunrisers' bowling remained reliable with Washington Sundar and T Natarajan stifling the batters and taking two wickets each. Marco Jansen proved to be a welcome addition, using his height and cutters to concede just 30 in his four and take MS Dhoni's wicket at the death.
Washington, Natarajan take out the openers
Super Kings made their usual start: Ruturaj Gaikwad looking to set himself up for the long innings and Robin Uthappa looking to use the powerplay. However, a slow pitch kept defeating Uthappa's timing before he finally ended up holing out to long-on the first ball he faced from Washington at the start of the fourth over. Introduced in the sixth over, Natarajan bowled the perfect full late swinging delivery first up to go through Gaikwad, making it 36 for 2.
Rayudu, Moeen get stuck Moeen Ali, usually full of intent, looked to give himself some time, but the struggles of Super Kings were epitomised by Ambati Rayudu. He kept trying to hit out but struggled to get any kind of timing on the slow pitch. Eventually Rayudu mis-hit Washington to wide long-on for a run-a-ball 27. Sunrisers made it difficult by using their variety of bowlers in these overs, not letting the batters get used to any one.
With three left-hand batters lined up next, Williamson used the opportunity to bowl one over of part-time offspin from Aiden Markram, giving him the cushion for Umran Malik, who had gone for 29 in three overs. While Moeen managed to hit one six off Markram, the second such attempt ended up at long-on. A ramp off a slower short ball from Natarajan did in for Shivam Dube.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar created pressure with two dots to Dhoni in the 17th over, and Jansen cashed in with a short ball next over, making it 122 for 6 with 15 balls to go.
Strong finish from Super Kings
At the end, when all bets are off, Ravindra Jadeja punished Natarajan for missing his yorker by mere inches twice, and Bhuvneshwar conceded wides in the last over in an attempt to stay away from the reach of the batters. Twenty-nine came off the last two overs to give Super Kings some hope.
Abhishek announces himself
The match began with a question mark over Abhishek's position at the top of the order as Tripathi is known for his explosive starts, which can give Williamson just the platform he needs to set himself up for the long innings. Sunrisers, though, made it clear they were backing their pre-season choice. Abhishek ended up carrying Williamson, who struggled much like the Super Kings batters.
It was only in the last over of the powerplay that Abhishek really opened up. He lofted Maheesh Theekshana's full offbreak over extra cover for a four followed by slogging the carrom ball over deep midwicket for a six. Still, at 37 for 0, it looked like Sunrisers were setting themselves up for a close finish as the asking rate was nudging 8.5 on a difficult pitch.
Even as Williamson looked to work his way into some sort of touch with ones and twos, Abhishek kept finding the boundary. When Williamson got out at the start of the 13th over, Sunrisers still needed 66 off 47.
Tripathi takes charge
If Abhishek's strike rate of 150 and above made it look like he was batting on a different pitch to Williamson, Tripathi was in another dimension altogether. The second ball he faced he pulled for six, the fourth whipped over midwicket for four, and the seventh driven over cover. All of a sudden Sunrisers needed just a run a ball, but Tripathi made sure there was a net-run-rate bonus for them as he got stuck into Chris Jordan and Dwayne Bravo.