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Gambhir, bowlers knock Hyderabad out in rain-hit Eliminator

Wisden India logo Wisden India 17-05-2017

© Wisden ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’

Sunrisers Hyderabad took the adage to heart and put on a batting display not unlike that of Royal Challengers Bangalore this season at their M Chinnaswamy stadium.

David Warner’s men crawled to 128 for 7 in 20 excruciating overs against Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2017 Eliminator in Bangalore on Wednesday (May 17).

For a little over three hours, torrential rain raised the hopes of the defending champions, but the venue’s subsurface aeration system sucked that right out, and Kolkata proceeded to hunt down the revised total of 48 from 6 overs with five balls to spare.

Full scorecard

Kolkata momentarily bowed to the pressure of the scoreboard, losing three wickets in the first seven balls, before Gautam Gambhir (32 not out from 19) and Ishank Jaggi (5 not out from 8) carried them to 48 for 3 in 5.2 overs.

Kolkata will now face Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 at the same venue on May 19.

Hyderabad’s coaching staff looked an irked bunch as they attempted to convince the umpires that underfoot conditions weren’t suitable for play. Perhaps if their batting line-up hadn’t fared as poorly as it did, they wouldn’t have to have those discussions.

An understanding of conditions in Bangalore meant Gambhir’s bowling changes and field placements were spot on. It helped that he won an important toss; but the real astuteness was in bringing back Nathan Coulter-Nile and Piyush Chawla for Colin de Grandhomme and Kuldeep Yadav. Losing Manish Pandey to an injury forced the inclusion of Suryakumar Yadav, while Ankit Rajpoot made way for Ishank Jaggi.

Surprisingly, four changes in a crucial tie didn’t throw their synchronisation off.

The pacers stuck to their plan of landing it back of length till the leather was hard. The Umesh Yadav-led pace unit then put slower offcutters to good use. Coulter-Nile’s figures of 3 for 20 from four overs, including the wicket of Chris Jordan with a breathtaking return catch, was the pick of the lot.

Complete coverage: IPL 2017

The spinners, Sunil Narine, Chawla and Yusuf Pathan, conceded a tidy 54 runs from eight overs between them.

But, as even Bangalore’s demoralised batting fared better (158 for 6) against an identical Kolkata line-up in the last game at the same venue, a late surge was expected. Those hopes were scuttled after David Warner was bowled for 37 by a slider from Chawla.

The situation was made worse when Yuvraj Singh pulled a short ball from Umesh right to Chawla at deep backward square.

Kane Williamson’s scratchy 24 did little in terms of confidence for the ones to come after.

Vijay Shankar offered brief relief but once he fell for 22 from 17, there wasn’t much Hyderabad could do but hope for a miracle.

The rain gods offered Hyderabad some relief: Two balls before the end of their innings, raging winds threatened to blow the roof off. Soon followed a gentle drizzle, and once the players came off the field, the skies burst open.

The sparse gathering was forced to rush to the deep end of the stands, but the orange-clad fans hoped it wouldn’t relent. Had the rain persisted and conditions deemed unsuitable beyond 1.20am, Hyderabad would’ve progressed by virtue of scoring one point more than Kolkata at the end of the league stages.

A 11.50pm start would’ve seen Kolkata face the full quota of 20 overs. A 12.58am start would’ve offered a five-over game where Gambhir’s men would be chasing 41. Super Over would’ve decided the fate of the contest if the rain stopped by 1.20am.

Even as the probability of one of these deciding the outcome grew, the rain relented. By 12.30am, it was down to a few specks, and with the recently installed subsurface aeration system and the good-old Super Sopper getting to work, play resumed at 12.55am.

Lynn opened alongside Robin Uthappa and it looked like the Australian would get it over with in a hurry with a six over point off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Right after came a befuddling sequence. Lynn edged a wide-of-offstump yorker to Naman Ojha, the wicketkeeper. Yusuf Pathan ran himself out silly and Uthappa played the pick-up pull right to Shikhar Dhawan at a wide deep square-leg.

Panic had set in. Fortunately for Kolkata, Gambhir’s experience prevailed. He played out the good balls and put away the bad with disdain to bring a long, tiring night to a fitting end.

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