The ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket and its subsequent fall-out directly affected two teams in the Indian Premier League – the Rajasthan Royals and the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Steve Smith, captain of the former, and David Warner, the latter team’s captain, both stepped down from their positions.
Coincidentally, the two teams clashed in their first first game this season.
However, the game turned out to be a one-sided affair. Rajasthan lost the toss and was put to bat first. From the get-go, they were in trouble.
After losing D’Arcy Short for 4, the Royals lost their newly appointed captain Ajinkya Rahane for 13.
The only bright spot in the Rajasthan innings was 23-year-old Kerala-born Sanju Samson. Sanju, who is now playing his sixth year of the IPL, looked solid and finished with a respectable 49 off 42 balls. He was the only player from the Rajasthan side to score more than 20.
Only three others managed to reach double-digit scores. The rest of the team dragged the Royals to a sub-par final score of 125 for 9 in their 20 overs on what looked to be a good pitch to bat on. Shakib Al Hasan and Siddarth Kaul were standouts with the ball. They picked up two wickets apiece and conceded very few runs in the process.
Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan also had a very good game, and gave the opposition just 23 runs and took a wicket in his four overs.
Requiring just over 6 runs an over, the Sunrisers didn’t have the best start when they lost Wriddhiman Saha in the second over to Jaydev Unadkat. Kane Williamson, who was named the Sunrisers’ captain just before the tournament, joined Shikhar Dhawan at the crease.
And then the onslaught began.
Shikhar scored 77 of just 57 balls; his innings included 13 boundaries and a sixer. He was supported by his skipper who made a characteristically dependable 36 runs off 35 balls. The pair cruised through the run chase, allowing Hyderabad to romp home with 25 balls to spare and 9 wickets in hand – clearly proving detractors wrong who questioned how the team would do without their charismatic captain.
In the post-match press conference, Rajasthan captain Ajinkya was asked about the game: “On this wicket, we thought about 160 would have been the ideal total because the ball was doing a bit and the medium pacers had good help from this wicket, but we didn’t get that one (big) partnership. I think we lost crucial wickets in-between (the innings) and I think a partnership was the key. Credit to Sunrisers, but defending 126 the way our bowlers bowl, it was good to see the fast bowlers were putting in the effort but 126 was too low.”
Sunrisers’ mentor and Hyderabad cricketing legend VVS Laxman tweeted after the game.
Could not have asked for a better start to our IPL campaign. All the bowlers bowled brilliantly, maintaining the pressure throughout. It was a delight to watch @SDhawan25 go about the chase fearlessly with the calm & cool head of Kane. Hope to continue with the momentum #SRHvRR— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) April 9, 2018