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Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma defy the odds on the slow pace of Hyderabad as SRH beats LSG – Firstpost

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Travis Head, left, and Abhishek Sharma congratulate each other after their team’s win over Lucknow Super Giants in Hyderabad on Wednesday. AP

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) is doing Sunrisers Hyderabad things again in the Indian Premier League (IPL). They not only defeated Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) by 10 wickets on Wednesday but also undermined Mumbai Indians’ (MI) hopes of making it to the IPL play-offs as Hardik Pandya and Co became the first team to get out of the IPL was eliminated.

Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma once again dominate proceedings

SRH have made a name for themselves by being dominant bowlers on their home ground at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. The Pat Cummins-led team have won three out of four matches at the venue so far, with their only defeat coming against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) on April 25.

Also read | SRH breaks records in high-speed chase against LSG

That was during the chase, as they eventually lost by 35 runs, and while the Orange Army are not known as “chase masters” in the IPL as far as this season is concerned, Travis Head (89*) and Abhishek Sharma (75*) proved to be the opposite on Wednesday. The famous SRH opening duo have fulfilled their terms all season with some free-flowing performances, and Wednesday was something similar against a hapless LSG bowling line-up.

On a rather slow wicket to bat in Hyderabad, LSG did just that after winning the toss. And that failed early on, with Quinton de Kock and Marcus Stoinis dismissed as Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck twice in the powerplay. KL Rahul’s strike rate came under scrutiny again after hitting just one four and one six in a 33-ball knock of 29. Batting at a strike rate of less than 100 is far from ideal in a T20 and Rahul was the length undone. balls and inswingers that Bhuvneshwar continued to produce.

The LSG captain was dismissed by Pat Cummins in the 10th over after he holed out at long leg to T Natarajan.

LSG were 57/3 at that stage and were further restricted to 66/4 in the 12th over after the wicket of Krunal Pandya. What followed, however, was a brave comeback from Nicholas Pooran (48*) and Ayush Badoni (55*), who posted an unbeaten 99 runs off 52 deliveries for the fifth wicket. Lucknow eventually managed to post 165/4, a total that Badoni said bowlers could defend if dew was not on offer.

As Badoni predicted, there was not much dew. But Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma, Travishek’s ever-reliable opening duo, defied the odds. Hoping that spinners would be of good use on the slower surface against SRH, Rahul turned to off-break bowler Krishnappa Gowtham to initiate the bowling attack.

The first over was largely a disciplined over from Gowtham, apart from a boundary from Head in the last ball of that over. However, in just his second over, the all-rounder would be beaten due to some merciless boundaries from the Australian big hitter. Head started with a maximum over the bowler, before hitting a pair of sixes towards the sights later in the over. A total of 22 runs came from the 35-year-old’s second over and added to Lucknow’s misery as SRH raced to 47/0 in just three overs.

Meanwhile, Abhishek Sharma had started his attack earlier. In the second over, when he hit four fours off Yash Thakur. The 50-run stand between Abhishek and Head came in less than four overs, thanks to a maximum from the first over long-on. To be precise, the half-century partnership yielded just 19 balls, the same number of deliveries that Abhishek got to his fifty.

Dot balls were hard to come by for Lucknow and the innings looked like a highlights package. Only 14 dot balls were bowled during these 9.4 overs that SRH took to end the match as Abhishek and Head came to bat and forced the bowlers to dance to their tunes.

And just like that, SRH reached 107 inside the powerplay without losing a wicket. That was the second-highest powerplay total this IPL, after SRH’s 125/0 against Delhi Capitals (DC) earlier. LSG were also missing pacer Mohsin Khan due to a head injury and that hurt their chances immensely. In his first over alone, Naveen-ul-Haq scored 23 runs while bowling the fifth over of the chase. SRH was more than halfway through and had reached 87/0. Ravi Bishnoi was also punished for regular boundaries by both openers.

The heavy defeat left skipper KL Rahul clueless. “I’m out of words. We’ve seen this kind of percussion on TV. But this is unreal hitting. Everything seemed to find the center of the bat. Kudos for their skills. They have worked hard on their six-hitting skills. They didn’t give us a chance to know what the pitch was playing in the second innings. It was difficult to stop them when they teed off from ball one,” Rahul said after the match, adding that the visitors were at least “40-50 runs” short.

The loss leaves LSG with even more work to do to qualify for the play-offs. Two wins in their last two matches would only take them to 16 points, which may not be enough considering that Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have an extra match in hand.

CSK (fourth, 12 points) DC (fifth, 12 points) and LSG (sixth, 12 points) are in a tight battle for a possible fourth spot in the play-offs, and it is anyone’s guess which of the three teams would go through.

As an avid sports follower, I have been working with Firstpost for the past four years. When it’s not sports, my other interests are movies and music. view more

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