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35th Match (N), Delhi, April 20, 2024, Indian Premier League
(19.1/20 ov, T:267) 199

SRH won by 67 runs

Player Of The Match
89 (32)
Cricinfo's MVP
150.23 ptsImpact List

Head, Abhishek, Shahbaz, Natarajan break records and help SRH go second

Sunrisers had 300 within their sights at the start but even 266 proved to be too big for Capitals

Sunrisers Hyderabad 266 for 7 (Head 89, Shahbaz 59*, Abhishek 46, Kuldeep 4-55) beat Delhi Capitals 199 (Fraser-McGurk 65, Pant 44, Natarajan 4-19, Reddy 2-17, Markande 2-26) by 67 runs
It would have been the highest total in the history of the IPL if it had happened last season, but on Saturday night in Delhi, 266 for 7 almost felt anticlimactic. That's how far Sunrisers Hyderabad have moved the window of batting possibilities this season. It was the fourth-highest total in IPL history, but it was only the third-highest total achieved by Sunrisers in IPL 2024.
At one point it had felt like they could have finished with so much more, with 300 looking like a frighteningly realistic prospect. Sunrisers had gone where no team in any competition had ever gone before in a T20 powerplay, with Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma raising a hair-raising six-over score of 125 for no loss. Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel, fortified by the relaxation of field restrictions, brought Sunrisers' innings back to the earthly realm thereafter, but that awe-inspiring beginning would remain the defining passage of the match.
Delhi Capitals began their reply by racing to the joint second-highest powerplay score of IPL 2024, but it was only 88 for 2. Jake Fraser-McGurk bettered Head's 16-ball effort by one ball to bring up the season's quickest half-century, but his dismissal in the seventh over effectively ended the contest. Capitals had suggested they might run Sunrisers close when they began their chase, but they slumped badly through its back half, against some excellent defensive bowling led by T Natarajan. In the end they were bowled out for a symbolic 199, with Rishabh Pant struggling for fluency before he was last man out for 44 off 35 balls.

A powerplay from another planet

The first over of the match went for 19, and ended up being the lowest-scoring over of Sunrisers' powerplay.
Head was batting on 84 off 26 balls at the six-over mark, and his opening partner was scoring significantly quicker than him: Abhishek was batting on 40 off 10 at that point.
The hitting was a relentless blur, and no line, length or style of bowling seemed to have any power to stop it. So true was the pitch at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, which was hosting its first game of the season, and so single-minded the two openers in their desire to hit every possible ball to the boundary. Of the 36 balls bowled in the powerplay - Capitals could have given themselves an ironic pat on the back for bowling no wides or no-balls in that time - 13 went for four and 11 for six.

Kuldeep, Axar intervene

Abhishek hit the first non-powerplay ball of the match for six too, stepping out to Kuldeep and going through his shot despite not reaching the pitch of the ball. This had happened in the fifth over too, off the same bowler, and it seemed to reiterate to Capitals' bowlers that they were on a hiding to nothing.
But sometimes a wicket can come out of nowhere, especially if the batters are going after everything, and this is what happened off the next ball, as a diving Axar intercepted an uppish drive at cover.
Aiden Markram came in at No. 3 ahead of Heinrich Klaasen - who is more noted as a spin-hitter - and fell in the same over, slapping a not particularly good ball from Kuldeep - shortish and wide - straight to cover. But sometimes, even an ordinary ball from a wristspinner can behave oddly, sticking in the pitch slightly longer, or bouncing a little more than expected.
Kuldeep's value came to the fore again in his next over - after Klaasen hit him for a pair of sixes - when Head failed to get hold of a ball that wasn't quite short enough to pull. He had put that length away easily in the powerplay, but there was a man back at long-on now and he was out for 89 off 32.
Klaasen is a master at pulling not-quite-pullable lengths against the spinners, but on the day he was done in by an Axar skidder that beat his inside edge to bowl him. Sunrisers were a surreal 154 for 4 in 9.1 overs.

Nitish Kumar Reddy, Shahbaz apply the finish

Given how many runs they already had on the board, and given the time that remained in their innings, Sunrisers' fifth-wicket pair could afford to bat in a relatively conservative way and make sure that Abdul Samad, a specialist death-overs hitter, wouldn't be called upon too early. Nitish Kumar Reddy and Shahbaz Ahmed did this, putting on 67 off 47 balls.
Shahbaz broke free at the finish, hitting Khaleel Ahmed for two sixes in the 19th over and taking two fours and a six off Mukesh Kumar in the 20th to finish unbeaten on 59 off 29 balls. It was the Bengal allrounder's first fifty in the IPL.

A chase of two halves starring Fraser-McGurk and Pant

Prithvi Shaw hit Washington Sundar for 4, 4, 4, 4 off the first four balls of the chase in a battle of Impact Players. Then Washington had his revenge, looping up a delivery with plenty of overspin - the kind of ball that's rarely seen in T20 cricket, but one delivered now with the hope of stemming the run-flow giving way to the desperation of somehow prising out a wicket - and getting him to miscue a lofted hit.
That first over set the tone for Capitals' powerplay. They also lost David Warner early, but they kept going hard, because they had to, and because Fraser-McGurk knows no other way. His smooth, unfettered golfer's swing was in perfect rhythm on the day, and Washington - handed the unforgiving task of bowling two powerplay overs - was at the receiving end of 4, 4, 6, 4, 6, 6 in the third over. Abishek Porel then carved Pat Cummins through and over the off side with abandon in a 20-run fifth over, and Capitals were somehow keeping themselves in the game.
Fraser-McGurk finally mis-hit one in the seventh over, off Mayank Markande, but despite that wicket Capitals' win probability kept rising, with Porel crunching three fours and a six in the next over off Shahbaz. At that point, ESPNcricinfo's forecaster gave them a 21.23% chance of victory, astonishing given the target they were chasing.
But that was more or less that, as their run-scoring ground to a halt after Markande - who had a similar effect to Kuldeep, conceding runs but inducing just enough false shots with his wristspin - had Porel stumped in the ninth over.
Thanks in part to skillful bowling from Natarajan, Cummins and Reddy - they varied their pace nicely while bowling into the pitch, and used the wide line outside off stump effectively to Pant in particular - and in part to the struggle for fluency that Tristan Stubbs and Pant endured on the day, Capitals went nowhere. From the start of the ninth over to the end of their innings, they scored just 68 runs in 67 balls. The match was long over as a contest when Natarajan took out three wickets in the 19th over to finish with figures of 4 for 19.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
SRH 100%
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Over 20 • DC 199/10

Rishabh Pant c Natarajan b Nitish Kumar Reddy 44 (35b 5x4 1x6 54m) SR: 125.71
SRH won by 67 runs
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