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All-round Stokes, hat-trick star Unadkat lift Pune to No. 2

Wisden India logo Wisden India 06-05-2017

Sunrisers Hyderabad have a good record against most sides in the competition, but Rising Pune Supergiant went into the 44th match of the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League on Saturday (May 6) with a 2-1 advantage over the the defending champions. That became 3-1 after an excellent all-round show from Ben Stokes and some last-over heroics from Jaydev Unadkat, including a hat-trick, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, which helped Pune clinch a close game and go past Kolkata Knight Riders to the second spot on the eight-team table with 16 points from 12 games.

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It was a low-scoring contest, with Pune setting Hyderabad only 149 for victory, but the hosts managed just 136 for 9 in their 20 overs on a pitch that wasn’t easy to score on. The equation read 13 in the last over, but Unadkat dismissed Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar off consecutive deliveries to register the third hat-trick of the season and slam the final nail in Hyderabad’s coffin, finishing with fantastic figures of 5 for 30.

The two-paced nature of the pitch had earlier played an important role in allowing the bowlers to put the brakes on Pune’s scoring from the beginning. There were three clean hits over the fence early on – one from Ajinkya Rahane and two from Stokes – but the first four took as many as 13.3 overs to come by.

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The early loss of Rahul Tripathi, who has been the aggressor for Pune at the top of the order, helped Hyderabad bag the advantage after choosing to field. Tripathi, the highest run-getter in Power Plays across teams this season, was sent back by a fabulous effort from Bipul Sharma, who hit the stumps from short fine-leg to catch the batsman, who was trying to steal a quick single, short of his crease.

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Though Bipul dropped Steven Smith in the same position two overs later, he returned to grab the wicket of Rahane, who miscued a sweep for Yuvraj Singh to take an easy catch.

From then on, Smith and Stokes consolidated with a third-wicket stand of 60 off 47 balls, but the bowlers never let go of their hold over the proceedings. Smith’s 39-ball knock of 34 was without a single four or six, and the pressure led him on to play an unconventional shot off Siddarth Kaul, and walk back after being caught by Bipul at short third-man.

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Stokes (39 in 25) and MS Dhoni (31 in 21) did manage to finally hit a few shots to the fence to give Pune some impetus, but a tight spell from Rashid Khan (4-0-18-1), who also accounted for Stokes in the 15th over, left Pune in a rut.

Tight bowling from Kaul and Bhuvneshwar restricted Pune to 148 for 8, but in the end, it proved to be enough – two wickets in the final over helped Kaul end with impressive figures of 4 for 29.

Shikhar Dhawan (19 in 12) and David Warner got Hyderabad’s chase off to a good start, but Stokes removed Dhawan and Kane Williamson in the same over, the fifth of the innings, to trigger some flutter in the oppositions camp.

Warner and Yuvraj calmed those nerves with a steady third-wicket stand of 54 from 47 balls, but Stokes was back in the 13th over to haunt them, making Warner attempt an upper cut of a short ball only to loop a catch to Shardul Thakur at sweeper cover and walk back for a 34-ball 40.

Moises Henriques chopped on a googly from Imran Tahir in the next over, with the scoreboard reading 96 for 4, to leave Yuvraj and Naman Ojha with a challenging task in hand.

A few lusty blows from Yuvraj (47 in 43) and a big six from Ojha kept Hyderabad alive in their pursuit, but both fell in the 18th over, bowled by Jaydev Unadkat, to turn the tide Pune’s way.

Stokes (3 for 30) and Unadkat bowled brilliantly at the death, leaving the tailenders with too much to do in the end.

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