Cape Town - A classy half-century by Ajinkya Rahane has steered the Rajasthan Royals to a nervous and laboured six-wicket win against the Sunrisers Hyderabad thanks to a square boundary from James Faulkner off the final ball of their Indian Premier League clash at the Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.
The supersport.com website reports that the Hyderabad-attack defended a low total of 127 for five brilliantly.
They kept on pressing and forced the clash into the 20th over with their economic bowling.
Praveen Kumar was left to defend five runs in the final over and executed his yorker-skills splendidly.
Thanks to Kumar, the game went right down to the wire. It required a square-drive by Faulkner off the final delivery to down the dogged Hyderabad.
Faulkner managed an unbeaten six to lead the Royals to 131 for four.
The Rajasthan Royals remain at the summit of the IPL-table with eight points after four matches.
The top-class Royals bowling attack, led by Dhawal Kulkarni and the wrist spinner Pravin Tambe, deserve praise for their economy and quality and restricted Hyderabad to 127 for five.
Kulkarni finished with two for nine, while Tambe took two for 21.
Rahane led the chase expertly with a measured innings, and was the senior partner in a 64-run opening stand with Sanju Samson.
He kept his composure when a superb bowling performance from Ravi Bopara briefly threatened to derail the chase.
Bopara was full value for his two for 18 in four overs.
Rahane perished in slightly unconventional fashion in the penultimate over when he dragged a delivery by Trent Boult onto his stumps.
He perished for 62, having faced 56 balls. He bludgeoned nine fours.
The defiant Hyderabad-attack forced the clash into the 20th over with their classy bowling.
Boult took one for 31 in four overs, while Sharma captured one for 19.
Naman Ojha pulled off a stunning catch behind the stumps off Bopara to send Samson packing for 26 in the 11th over.
Smith signaled his aggressive intent by attacking Boult and Karn Sharma.
The legspinner Sharma struck when he had Smith caught in the covers by David Warner for 13 in the 14th over as the Royals slipped to 84 for two.
Bopara gave Hyderabad a sniff when he took a return-catch to remove Karun Nair for 1.
During the Hyderabad-innings, the top-order stuttered on 35 for three after the conclusion of the power play.
Rahane ran out the belligerent opener Warner with a direct hit from backward point when he looked well set on 21.
Kulkarni accounted for Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul, moving the ball late off the seam into the right-hander.
Eoin Morgan and Ojha repaired some of that early damage with a composed 52-run partnership off 57 balls for the fourth wicket.
The introduction of the legspinner Tambe changed the complexion of the innings.
He bowled Ojha for 25 to reduce Hyderabad to 87 for four in the 15th over.
In his next over, he trapped Morgan in front for 27 to reduce Hyderabad to 96 for five. Morgan faced 30 balls and hit a few splendid pull-shots, but was bamboozled by Tambe’s variety and flight.
Bopara and A. Ashish Reddy tried to inject some urgency into the batting at the back-end of the innings. They were denied a more expansive finish by the shrewd death bowling from Tim Southee and Chris Morris.
Bopara managed 23 off 19 balls.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: DA Warner (captain), S Dhawan, KL Rahul, EJG Morgan, NV Ojha (wicketkeeper), RS Bopara, A Ashish Reddy, KV Sharma, P Kumar, B Kumar, TA Boult
Rajasthan Royals: AM Rahane, SV Samson (wicketkeeper), SPD Smith (captain), KK Nair, STR Binny, DJ Hooda, JP Faulkner, CH Morris, TG Southee, DS Kulkarni, PV Tambe