Hyderabad: James Faulkner's effort of 5 for 16 went in vain as Rajasthan Royals failed to chase a moderate total of 137 against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal on Friday. The 23-run victory, meanwhile, boosted Hyderabad's chances of reaching the play-offs as, with 18 points from 15 matches, they are now two points ahead of nearest rival, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and have one more game in hand.
Faulkner probably had seen the footage of his previous outing against the same opponent in Jaipur where he got a five-for (5 for 20). The tall Tasmanian started off in the same fashion - providing early wickets to his side. He first rattled Parthiv Patel's stumps and then had Shikhar Dhawan (1) caught at backward point by Ajinkya Rahane.
One might have expected Cameron White (0) playing more reservedly, especially after his side lost early wickets, but he was tempted to play a hook by Shane Watson and caught by Siddharth Trivedi at long leg. Hanuma Vihari (19) and Biplab Samantray (55) then did the repair work as the Hyderabad innings went ahead at a snail's pace, getting just 21 runs in the six-over mandatory powerplay.
Samantray hit the first boundary of the innings when he lofted Pravin Tambe over covers in the fifth over. He steered Stuart Binny to the vacant third man region for the team's second boundary. He and Vihari shared 44 runs for the fourth wicket until Vihari mistimed a flick off Trivedi and Sachin Baby took a good catch.
Samantray continued with the touch he found, launching Tambe over extra cover for another four. Darren Sammy took a few deliveries to gauge the nature of the pitch before smashing Kevon Cooper for a straight four. While Sammy began the Cooper over with a four, Samantray ended it with a swipe for six over midwicket.
Sammy continued batting in an aggressive mode, smacking Watson for a 92-metre six when the allrounder came in for his second spell. Samantray brought up his maiden IPL fifty with a four through covers off Cooper. Faulkner was looking for another five-for and he got one when he dismissed the well-set Samantray and Dale Steyn in his final over, restricting Hyderabad innings for 136 for 9.
It's not so that Hyderabad had not defended low totals. They did it twice against Pune Warriors early in the tournament. Dale Steyn was fiery at the start, bowling with absolute full pace, not letting Rahane and Dravid to find gaps. Ishant Sharma although was not as accurate as his short delivery was hooked for six by Dravid. He compensated the short delivery by pitching one too full and Dravid obliged by placing it perfectly to the midwicket fence for four.
White decided to look for the amount of spin the pitch was offering and brought in Karan Sharma, but the legspinner was spanked for a slog six over deep midwicket by Rahane. But despite playing some attractive strokes, Rahane was not looking in his fluent self and departed after the run out of Dravid. Sanju Samson hasn't done anything of note in the last few matches and he failed once again when he holed out to Steyn at long-off off Amit Mishra.
With the required rate zooming up, Watson and Binny had to take a few chances and the former was first to perish while trying to do that. He slightly mistimed a pull off Perera, getting caught by Sammy at long-on. Binny was cleaned up in the same over, making it almost impossible for the visitors.
Mishra, who gave away just eight runs for his two wickets, trapped Baby for 3, while Karan had Faulkner (6) for his second wicket. Steyn came back for his second spell and shattered Brad Hodge's stumps and got Cooper (26) as well.