Sunrisers Hyderabad have done it again. Mumbai Indians have done it again. It was trademark performances from both sides in contrasting regards which saw a repeat of Match 6, with Hyderabad floundering this time and Mumbai pull-off another turn around.
Except, the stage was set this time in terms of Hyderabad’s middle-order woes. Their age-old demons of dreadful middle-order outcomes saw them fall short of chasing 150. For Mumbai, it was enough to defend for the second game in a row. The game also followed the template of Chennai as a venue, with both batting line-ups falling in the second half of their respective innings.
Hyderabad had a cracking start, with their best opening duo reuniting at the top. David Warner and Jonny Bairstow razed off 67 runs from the target in a matter of seven overs. Bairstow’s brilliance suggested as if he will chase it off on his own, contributing 43 runs to the partnership. His charge in the Powerplay appeared to be deflating Mumbai’s morals. However, his hit-wicket opened the door for Mumbai. Manish Pandey was the first to walk through that door, heading back for 2 off seven balls.
Warner’s presence became critical. He seemed stoic to see Hyderabad through until his attempt was cut short by Hardik Pandya’s brilliance in the field. He found Warner way short off a cheeky single with his quick pick up and release to shoot a direct hit. Warner walked back for 36, exposing his inexperienced middle-order in a phase where runs were becoming harder to come by with each passing over.
Mumbai feasted on their chances. They choked the runs before Rahul Chahar, the hero of their win against Kolkata, snaffled Virat Singh and Abhishek Sharma in his last over. Vijay Shankar kept their hopes alive with successive sixes off Krunal Pandya in the 16th over. But even for Shankar, two overs each from Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah were too much to neutralize.
With the equation down to 31 runs from 24 balls, Bumrah ceased run scoring opportunities and Boult cleaned up the lower order. Abdul Samad’s run out in the 17th over - again through Hardik’s brilliance - did not help. Shankar gave in to the pressure, losing his wicket to Bumrah in the penultimate over. Boult’s accurate yorkers brought him three wickets as Hyderabad was bundled out for 137 from 90 for two.
Hyderabad’s batting, number 5 onwards, now averages 8.5 runs per wicket in three games this year.
Hyderabad had to chase for the third game in a row. Rohit Sharma won the toss and made the brave call of batting first. It was the first time a captain opted to bat first in Chennai this season.
There was no help for bowlers in the first six overs to say the least. With neither lateral movement for the pacers nor grip for the spinners, Rohit and Quinton de Kock forged a 55-run opening stand from 39 balls. But post Rohit’s wicket, run scoring became an increasingly laborious task. Suryakumar Yadav’s pristinely timed inside-out drive over covers for a six was the last of Mumbai’s batting domination in their innings.
Surya got out next ball, with the ball stopping on the pitch and Mumbai’s innings went south afterwards. De Kock and Ishan Kishan played too many shots to score only 27 runs in their 32-ball stand. De Kock trudged to 40 off 39 when he was holed out at deep midwicket in a desperate attempt to produce a boundary. Kishan, having come into when batting was getting difficult, fell for 12 off 21.
Restricted to 114 for four with 19 balls left, they were saved by Kieron Pollard to reach the par score. Pollard, for a change, was sent above Hardik Pandya which gave him time to get himself in. The move paid rich dividends as Pollard scored 35 from 22 balls, an impactful innings in the context of the match. He was dropped by Shankar, who had done everything fine till then by picking two wickets. Pollard was on 19 off 17 balls when he was given a reprieve. He made it count on the last two balls, carrying Mumbai to 150 with consecutive sixes which took him past 200 maximums for Mumbai.
Pollard feasted on Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s sudden slump with the ball in the competition. Bhuvi erred in length, to see Pollard strike a six each off the last two balls, helping MI end on a high and create the winning margin.
In a match where the average run-rate was 7.3, Bhuvi went at an economy of 11.3, without taking a wicket.
Hyderabad made four changes in their XI, signs of an unsettled side. In the end, nothing worked for them as they fell flat to revive their middle-order fortunes. They are yet to win this season and at Chennai, ever. Mumbai would be thrilled to pull two games back as their defeat on the opening night of IPL 2021 seems an event in the distant past.