After a two-day break, IPL matches resumed on Sunday with two games. In the first, AB de Villiers turned the game on its head and led RCB to a thrilling victory over CSK at Ranchi, while at Cuttack later, Sunrisers lost against KKR. In the three matches before the break, SRH had succumbed to might of KXIP’s batting battery, despite scoring 205, Mumbai literally walked out of contention in IPL-7 with a loss against KKR and Rajasthan humbled Daredevils by 62 runs.
The first of these five matches was played at Hyderabad, where SRH batted first, and despite 72/1 in the first 10 overs, bludgeoned past 200 at the end of 20. Naman Ojha, who was promoted in the batting order, blasted 79 off 36 balls with 4 fours and 7 sixes. The entire SRH top order clicked and a late charge by the inimitable David Warner’s 44 off 23 balls ensured that SRH finished their innings with 205 on the board. Hyderabad’s only problem was the track record of their opponents, for whom no score had been too big this season. Though Sehwag fell in the first over of the chase, every other KXIP batsman made winning contribution. Manan Vohra, who opened with Sehwag made a quick-fire 47 off 20, Saha 54 off 26, Maxwell 43 off 22, Miller 24 off 24 and skipper Bailey 35 off 19. Taken together the batsmen hit 19 fours and 12 sixes and surpassed SRH in 18.4 overs.
In the match at Cuttack on May 14, KKR sent Mumbai to bat after winning the toss. The MI batsmen repeated their sordid batting display yet again and finished with a less than challenging 141/5. Though Rauydu, Sharma and Anderson were the major contributors to this score, they did little to raise the scoring rate. Inept planning meant that big-hitting Pollard and Tare got only 12 balls between them but struggled at death. Uthappa and Gambhir began well and even after Gambhir got out, Uthappa carried on with his tremendous form. With Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan coming good, it turned out to be an easy 18.4 over chase for KKR. With this seventh loss, MI is almost out of the reckoning, while KKR have moved within hand-shaking distance to the play-off stage.
In the 41st match of IPL-7 at Ahmedabad on May 15, Kevin Pietersen asked RR to bat after the toss. Royals always appear best as a bunch with each player having the team focus. On Thursday, they were led by Steven Smith as Shane Watson was injured. RR batted purposefully and spaced out scoring, without losing the focus on the run-rate. Top scorer Rahane made 64 off 50 balls but Nair, Cooper and Samson all made vital contributions. Towards the close, Faulkner came out with an 8-ball 23 cameo studded with 3 sixes, as RR ended with 201. For Delhi, KP came out to open the innings with Mayank Agarwal. The ploy didn’t work as KP struggled. On the other end, he saw Agarwal, Karthik and Duminy falling cheaply. Then KP himself got out for a belabored 13 off 18 balls and DD struggled at 48/4 in 7.4 overs. They lost 4 more wickets to make it 91/8 in 14.4. Only Manoj Tiwary stood out from the pack, unbeaten at 61 from 44 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes. At no stage did DD look like chasing the target and finally they finished with a whopping 62-run deficit.
CSK hosted RCB at Ranchi in the first match on Sunday. Batting first after winning the toss, CSK couldn’t emulate their earlier batting performances and lost both openers in the 5th over from Varun Aaron. But Suresh Raina and David Hussey put up a 75-run third wicket partnership. On the slow Ranchi pitch, the ball didn’t come on the bat and brisk scoring became difficult and only 4 sixes could be hit by the powerful CSK batsmen. Raina remained unbeaten with Jadeja as the innings came to an end with just 138/4 on board. Chasing 139, RCB were in immediate trouble with Parthiv Patel getting out. By the end of 6 overs, RCB were struggling at 17/1, with neither Gayle nor Kohli being able to get out of their grooves. Though 7th over produced 16 runs, the batsmen were silent once again and 60 balls, 94 were required for victory. With CSK bowlers dominating, scoring became difficult and Kohli was stumped in trying a desperate stroke in the 15th over. When 53 were required in 30 balls, de Villiers was out in the middle. In the 17th over, Gayle was bowled by Ashwin. Yuvraj joined de Villiers, who had already eased things up for RCB. When he got out in the 18th over, he had made 28 off 14. Yuvraj missed lots of balls before hoisting Hussey for 6 and scoring 2 in the next ball of the last over. When 1 run was needed with 2 balls left, a brave shot from Abu Nechim settled the score in RCB’s favor.
In the other game on Sunday, SRH chose to bat after new captain Darren Sammy won the toss. Finch opened with Dhawan. But Finch got out early and Naman Ojha joined Dhawan, who fell in the fifth over. Though there were good contributions from Ojha, Warner, Rahul and Irfan Pathan, the scoring rate couldn’t be improved. SRH could only reach 142/8. KKR too began with Gambhir falling early but Uthappa batted solidly, as he has been doing, of late. Even after Uthappa was unfortunately run out, KKR were already on course. Manish Pandey scored 35 and after he got out, Yusuf Pathan and Doeschate carried KKR to safety in 19.4 overs for their fourth victory in a row.