Sunrisers Hyderabad 164 for 5 (Garg 51, Sharma 31) beat Chennai Super Kings 157 for 5 (Jadeja 50, Dhoni 47*, Natarajan 2-43) by seven runs
Every so often in the IPL, talented young players seize the stage and bring notice of their incredible ability to a worldwide audience. Sunrisers Hyderabad had two such players bursting through in a seven-run win against Chennai Super Kings. Priyam Garg hit a sparkling half-century in just his second innings for the Sunrisers, while Abhishek Sharma also made his highest score for the franchise to drive them to a competitive 164 for 5.
That nearly wasn't enough in a dramatic finish as Super Kings mounted a furious late assault. The drama heightened with Bhuvnehswar Kumar going off clutching his thigh after one ball of his final over - the 19th of the innings - to have David Warner throwing the ball to the third youngster in the Sunrisers line-up. Abdul Samad had bowled only seven overs in his entire T20 career before this game and was in the XI primarily due to his batting, but ended up finishing his full quota. His final over went for 20 runs, but the Sunrisers bowlers, including Samad himself, had done enough before that to squeeze out a win. Super Kings finished on 157 for 5, for a third defeat in a row, which hasn't happened to them since 2014.
That they couldn't get over the line despite coming so close was down largely to Garg and Sharma. Garg had walked in when Warner was caught by Faf du Plessis completing an in-and-out boundary catch at long-on. Next ball, Kane Williamson was run out in a mix-up which left the normally unflappable New Zealand captain fuming. But Garg, calmly shrugged that off to unleash some death-overs carnage in smashing 51* off 26. Sharma (31 off 24) had been the one to inject initial momentum when both players - barely out of their teens - had the task of dragging the Sunrisers to a good total with their top four of Jonny Bairstow, Warner, Manish Pandey and Williamson all dismissed in the first 11 overs. The two added 77 in just seven overs even as Super Kings' fielding wilted, conceding dropped catches and overthrows aplenty. It was also the first half-century stand by players aged 20 or less in the history of the IPL.
Sunrisers' bowlers kept things tight - Rashid Khan bowling four overs for just 12 runs - and their initial good work went a long way in clinching victory even though the last four overs went for 70 runs.
Sunrisers' slow start
Bairstow was bowled by a banana inswinger from Deepak Chahar in the first over, while Warner never got out of second gear. Pandey, a sedate starter normally, came out swinging to keep the Sunrisers' heads above water. But he fell when looking good, and the Warner-Williamson double-strike meant the team was 69 for 4 in 11 overs.
Super Kings had made several changes to their XI. Ambati Rayudu and Dwayne Bravo were both fit and included, as was Shardul Thakur, while M Vijay, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Josh Hazlewood sat out. That combination gave them greater depth in batting as well as bowling. MS Dhoni used his seamers up front in rotation, with only two overs of spin in the first 11 overs.
Garg, Sharma, take off
Garg started his innings with nudges and flicks, easing himself in. Sharma, whose T20 strike rate of 150.25 is suggestive, was more adventurous early on. He took on Ravindra Jadeja, who had been held back while Warner was the crease, reverse swatting him to the point boundary and then slugging him over midwicket. He also was confident enough to drive Bravo over mid-off, having read his variations.
Garg then took off, beginning in the 16th over, bowled by Thakur. First there was a steer to third man that resulted in three runs, the young guns pushing hard for two and drawing an overthrow, and he ended the over with a dismissive pull. The next over, by Sam Curran, saw Garg unleash three fours and a six, as Sunrisers put on a burst of speed to break the hold the Super Kings bowlers had till then.
Sunrisers clattered 64 runs in the last five overs, and 53 in the final four.
Super Kings top-order batting woes persist
The changes in their XI had given the Super Kings greater batting depth on paper, but some excellent seam bowling up front meant the top order was tied down for large periods. Kumar bent one back in with banana swing to rattle Shane Watson's stumps, having continuously tested the batsman with the incoming delivery. Rayudu was undone by a peach from T Natarajan, du Plessis was run out when he responded to a risky call, and Kedar Jadhav chipped Samad to cover.
Jadeja, Dhoni and the late fightback
Jadeja joined Dhoni in the ninth over, and for the first half of their partnership, the two couldn't keep pace with the required rate. Till the end of the 16th over, both were scoring at less than a run a ball. Jadeja then started connecting sweetly, even as the Sunrisers fielding, which had been livewire till then, slipped up.
Although Jadeja was out soon after his first IPL fifty, Super Kings had a man who could hit big in Sam Curran next. They needed 44 from the last two overs that Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed were slated to bowl. Kumar pulled up with what looked like a hamstring strain after just one ball, and Warner was forced to go to Ahmed for the rest of the over. He gave up 15 runs, which still left the Sunrisers with enough to defend in the final over. Warner chose Samad's legspin ahead of Sharma's left-arm variety for it, and though Samad began with five wides, he denied a winded Dhoni the opportunity to hit sixes, which sealed the contest.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo