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Qualifier 2 (N), Chennai, May 24, 2024, Indian Premier League
(20 ov, T:176) 139/7

SRH won by 36 runs

Player Of The Match
18 (18) & 3/23
Cricinfo's MVP
97.36 ptsImpact List

Shahbaz and Abhishek spin Sunrisers Hyderabad into IPL final

SRH managed to score 175 after losing the toss, and their unheralded spinners were too good for RR in the absence of dew

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
Sunrisers Hyderabad 175 for 9 (Klaasen 50, Avesh 3-27, Boult 3-45) beat Rajasthan Royals 139 for 7 (Jurel 56, Shahbaz 3-23, Abhishek 2-24) by 36 runs
"There's nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent." Pat Cummins, November 18, 2023. The next day he took Virat Kohli's wicket and made a ground with 100,000 people feel like a ghost town.
"We have earned the right to have one of those days and still win tournaments." Pat Cummins, May 21, 2024. It's taken a little while longer for him to walk the talk but boy when he says something we best listen. Sunrisers Hyderabad marched into the final of IPL 2024 and this time they did it with their bowling.
It looked like Rajasthan Royals had won a crucial toss and they did the right thing by opting to chase. One square boundary was significantly shorter than the other (61m vs 72m) and asymmetry like that makes it really hard to defend totals, especially if the dew came in, but it didn't. All of a sudden SRH had a dry ball and a dry pitch. And they worked a miracle on that.

SRH stun RR with spin

Shahbaz Ahmed originally came into this game to try and shore up a stop-start batting innings. It was the second time in two playoff games that SRH had to pull the Impact Player trigger early. He made 17 in a partnership of 43 with Heinrich Klaasen to push the total up to 175. But that total looked light when Yashasvi Jaiswal raced to 41 off 19 balls. The game was slipping away. Except it had also shown SRH a way to claw back. Jaydev Unadkat's first over - the seventh - showed signs of how much the ball was gripping. SRH had no specialist spinner in their line-up but in conditions like these you don't need specialists. You just need people that can turn the ball and hold a line. Shahbaz did that and more, winning a match-up he was second-favourite in. Bowling into the left-hander's hitting arc, he handed Jaiswal his first dismissal to spin since IPL 2022.
Cummins brought Abhishek Sharma, who had bowled only three overs this campaign, from the other end. He even called Aiden Markram to roll his arm over. The pitch was now taking handsome amounts of turn and Cummins used any means in his armoury to exploit it. SRH produced a 33-ball period without a single boundary using bowlers whom they haven't really had to turn to but were there now at this crucial time. This 33-ball period also included four wickets. Shahbaz who hadn't picked up a wicket since April 5 turned up with 4-0-23-3 tonight. Abhishek, who had bowled his full quota of overs only twice before Friday, finished with 4-0-24-2.

Klaasen gamechanger

SRH have one of the world's best batters as a finisher and that played a big part in their win. Heinrich Klaasen does not need any protection. He does not need his entry point to be delayed because he has the ability to move through the gears. He can resurrect a failing innings with risk-free shots and still find ways to hit boundaries when he needs to. He was 21 off 20 balls in the 13th over. SRH were 108 for 4 at that point. Batting in Chennai is tricky because of the slowness of the pitches here. Mis-hits can still go for four in the powerplay when there are only two fielders outside the circle but that luck runs out once the field restrictions are lifted. Klaasen understood this nuance and waited for his moments; his match-ups. He has an excellent one against Yuzvendra Chahal and that's whom he targeted, hitting two mighty sixes, including one to the long boundary. The back-foot drive over extra cover was breathtaking.

Royal pains

Looking back now, all the good work RR did feels bittersweet. Trent Boult gave them a first-over wicket for the seventh time this season breaking a partnership that has rewritten history. Abhishek and Travis Head have been scoring their runs at 13.64 an over, the best in IPL history (min 300 runs scored).
Sandeep Sharma bowled 18 slower balls in his spell for just 17 runs and picked up the wicket of Head. His yorker, where he changed his action to be extra slingy, slipped underneath Klaasen in prime hitting form and knocked out his stumps. RR gave away only 12 runs in the last two overs with Avesh Khan executing his yorkers near perfectly. He dismissed Nitish Kumar Reddy, who actually had a decent plan against those yorkers - the reverse scoop because there was no one on the deep-third boundary - by refusing to give him a ball to get underneath. It was high quality planning and execution.

Royals' batting gets stuck again

RR's strength in their bowling comes at a price. The batting depth. And they felt it all the more acutely because Jos Buttler has left to link up with the England squad to prepare for the T20 World Cup and Shimron Hetmyer has been carrying an injury. They tried covering up for it by sending R Ashwin at No. 6 but it didn't work.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who was brought in to open the batting in place of Buttler, looked out of his depth, scoring 6 off 13 before being dismissed for 10 off 16. Sanju Samson made a mistake under pressure, looking to access the long boundary and getting caught for 10 off 11. Riyan Parag was facing 3.3 degrees of turn on average and he too made the wrong call, looking to hit across the line and getting caught off the top edge for 6 off 10. Dhruv Jurel fought hard for a while, scoring 56 off 35 balls, but the balance of power never really looked like it was shifting.
SRH have produced some scintillating performances in this IPL but this - winning with their weaker suit - was special. They're going to be a serious threat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
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Over 20 • RR 139/7

SRH won by 36 runs
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