Sanju Samson scored 82, but a total of 164 proved less than adequate for the Royals
Sunrisers Hyderabad 167 for 3 (Roy 60, Williamson 51*) beat Rajasthan Royals 164 for 5 (Samson 82, Kaul 2-36) by seven wickets
Roy, with his trademark boundary-blasting style, enjoyed a debut to remember for the Sunrisers. He had been brought in for David Warner – a big call in itself – but with every boundary he struck, it felt like one of the most iconic player-franchise partnerships in the IPL might have come to its end. Warner’s lack of form and Roy’s runs will make it difficult for the man who led Sunrisers to their only IPL title to find a place in their XI for the rest of the season. Williamson, who has replaced Warner as captain, played a typically controlled innings to see the team through. Roy’s start meant there were no fireworks needed in the back-end, and Williamson’s calm steering of the chase was exactly what his team wanted.
Jaiswal’s aggression up top
Yashasvi Jaiswal didn’t have a happy outing with the Royals in IPL 2020, but returning to the UAE has seen him unlock his potential. Of the first ten balls he faced, four went to the boundary as Jaiswal made his intent clear. Royals gameplan clearly involved going hard from the start, and that didn’t change even when Evin Lewis fell while pulling a half-tracker straight to deep square leg in the second over. Bhuvneshwar Kumar hadn’t had too much to show in the wickets column, but Lewis gifted the bowler one. Jaiswal, however, continued unfazed. He wasn’t always in perfect control, but his approach benefitted the Royals because it didn’t let the run-rate flag when Lewis was out.
Samson moves through the gears
The Royals captain knew his team lacked batting depth and that their chances of a good total depended heavily on him. That dependence became more pronounced when Liam Livingstone was out for 4, and Samson constructed his innings accordingly. In the initial phase, he played balls more on merit, but that also meant a bad ball was ruthlessly punished to the boundary. That still meant Samson was going at just about a run a ball, on 38 off 36 after 14 overs. He then cut loose spectacularly, as his next 21 balls brought forth 44 runs. He began the assault with perhaps the most audacious shot of his innings, stepping out and lifting no less than Rashid Khan over long-off. The reputation and skill of the bowler didn’t factor, Samson saw a ball he could smash and did it.
Bhuvneshwar’s control at the death
He bowled the 17th and 19th overs, bringing a measure of control to the Sunrisers when Samson was cutting loose. In the 19th, he nailed his yorkers consistently, giving up a mere seven runs. His first over had been a wicket-maiden too, and his bowling at the death meant Sunrisers were chasing less than they might have.
Saha’s power play and Roy’s successful debut
Wriddhiman Saha has been a quietly effective batter at the top of the order, especially in the powerplay. He was quick off the blocks once again, which also gave Roy a bit of extra time to settle in. Roy soon got into the groove too, courtesy some wayward bowling by Chris Morris, who offered him lengths full enough to smack. Four boundaries came in the fifth over, one of them via leg-byes, and the Sunrisers were up and running. Saha was out stumped when he charged Mahipal Lomror’s left-arm spin, but with Roy going along nicely, the chase was on track. Roy blitzed Rahul Tewatia out of the attack with a six and three fours in the 11th over, bringing the equation down to a run a ball with nine overs left.
There was a bit of a wobble when Roy fell, with Sunrisers also losing Priyam Garg soon after, but the opener’s big hitting meant the chase was in a place where it could absorb a quiet period.
Williamson finishes it
The finish was a straight contest between what Kane Williamson would do and how Royals’ death bowling would go. In Mustafizur Rahman, there was a terrific death bowler in operation. Moreover, the Sunrisers were not exactly brimming with confidence in their middle order. However, in Abhishek Sharma, Williamson found the perfect foil. Abhishek kept his cool in a chase that could have become tense, hitting Chetan Sakariya for a six over the bowler’s head in an over that would swing the game decisively Sunrisers’ way, as an equation of 22 from 18 became 6 off 12. Williamson finished things off with two boundaries to midwicket, the second of which also raised his own half-century while bringing up victory.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo