Will the Sun Rise for a second time for Hyderabad at the Feroz Shah Kotla : This is precisely the question that would be rising in every cricket lover’s mind on this day, when Sun Risers Hyderabad (SRH) prepare themselves to take on Gujarat Lions (GL), in a virtual semi final encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi, to decide who would face the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the title clash this Sunday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.
SRH are fresh from their victory over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the eliminator round. They successfully defended a modest total of 162 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in 20 overs.
They went on to win the game by a margin of 22 runs, restricting KKR to 140 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in 20 overs.
Yuvraj Singh, who top scored for SRH with 44 runs off just 30 deliveries with 8 fours and a six at a strike rate of 146.66, literally helped his team post a total of 162 runs after they were in a dire strait, losing 3 wickets for 71 runs in 9.5 overs.
A rearguard action by Bipul Sharma (14 runs off 6 deliveries) also helped the cause.
Defending a small total, DRH bowlers, in the absence of their key bowler, Aashish Nehra, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4-0-19-3), ensured that KKR batters were not let off the hook after pinning them down to a situation of 69 runs for the loss of 4 wickets in 10.5 overs.
Moises Henriques, Player of the Match, chipped in with a good performance claiming 2 wickets, giving away 17 runs in 3 overs.
On the other hand, GL had a tough time facing RCB in the first qualifier at Bengaluru. Put into bat, they managed to put only 158 runs on the board in 20 overs, with only Dwayne Smith, playing a very sensible and responsible innings, scoring 73 runs off 57 deliveries with 5 fours and 6 sixes at 178.04 strike rate.
Shane Watson did the maximum damage claiming 4 wickets, giving away 29 runs in his 4 overs.
On a day when both Chris Gayle (9) and Virat kohli (0) failed, AB de Villiers took the onus on him and went on to score an unbeaten 79* runs off 47 balls studded with 5 fours and 5 sixes at 168.08 strike rate.
He also put up an unbroken partnership of 91* runs in 8.4 overs for the 7th wicket alongwith the young Iqbal Abdullah (33*, 25 balls, 3*4, 1*6) and helped his team reach the finals for a third time.
RCB is a completely ‘charged’ team now. They had been languishing at the lower half of the points table in the beginning stages of the tournament, having won just 2 games out of the first 7 played but later on recovered, thanks to a wonderful batting display by the Kohli, and won 6 out of the next 7 games played.
They ended the league stage being No 2 on the points table just behind GL.
The Lions had a very good run in the league stage, pocketing 18 points out of 9 wins from 14 games. However, they seemed to wither out a bit in the first qualifier.
They would expect their star performers, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Praveen Kumar et al to rise to the occasion and deliver when it matters.
A win in this game would take them to the final in their very first appearance in IPL.
SRH have already played a game at Firoz Shah Kotla and know the surface, a shade better than GL.
May the best team win.