Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) powered their way into the final of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 with a commanding 36-run victory over Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the Qualifier 2 held in Chennai. Opting to bat first, SRH posted a challenging total of 175 runs, which their bowlers defended with discipline and flair.

Upon being asked to bat first by RR, SRH exhibited the aggressive batting intent that has become their hallmark throughout the TATA IPL 2024. Despite losing a few early wickets during the powerplay, their intent to score heavily remained unshaken. Trent Boult, opening the bowling for RR, managed to strike early, causing damage by removing Abhishek Sharma in the very first over. Abhishek had initially started strong with a six over mid-wicket and a boundary but was soon undone by Boult’s skillful delivery, resulting in a catch on the off-side.

Travis Head began his innings cautiously, allowing himself time to settle, while at the other end, Rahul Tripathi took on the role of aggressor. Tripathi displayed a combative spirit, attacking the bowlers with finesse. Although a bit edgy at times, he managed to hit Ashwin for a boundary through third man and followed it up by picking another boundary off Boult. When Ashwin returned for his second over, Tripathi dispatched him for two boundaries and a six. Boult, after being hit for a six and a four, returned to claim Tripathi’s wicket with a cleverly disguised slower ball that was caught at short third-man. By scoring 37 off 15 balls, Tripathi provided SRH with the momentum they needed.

Boult wasn’t finished yet, as he went on to dismiss SRH’s captain Aiden Markram who edged the ball to Yuzvendra Chahal at short third-man. By the time the fifth over concluded, SRH were at 57 for three, setting the stage for a rebuilding effort. Travis Head and Heinrich Klaasen then took charge of stabilizing the innings. Head, initially quiet, found his rhythm and hit his first boundary against Sandeep Sharma in the sixth over. Klaasen gained momentum by hitting Chahal for a six over mid-wicket in the eighth over. However, the next few overs turned quiet, which led to Head’s dismissal as he edged one from Sandeep to third-man.

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In the backend of the innings, it was Klaasen who anchored SRH, guiding them from a precarious 120 for six to a defendable total. Just as RR’s bowlers continued their strikes to keep the scoring in check, Avesh Khan managed two crucial wickets in the 14th over by dismissing Nitish Reddy and Abdul Samad successively. Klaasen, not deterred, went on to achieve his fifty off 33 balls in the 18th over. Shahbaz Ahmed was brought in as an Impact Player and contributed with a valuable 18 runs, pushing SRH to a final score of 175 for nine. Among the RR bowlers, Sandeep Sharma (two for 25) and Avesh Khan (three for 27) were notable performers, alongside Boult who also claimed three wickets.

Rajasthan Royals began their chase confidently, with Yashaswi Jaiswal in excellent touch, hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a six over mid-wicket in the very first over. Jaiswal continued to show his class, reaching 51 for one by the end of the powerplay, putting RR in a strong position with his fluent stroke play. However, the introduction of SRH’s spinners changed the course of the game dramatically. Shahbaz Ahmed struck a crucial blow by having Jaiswal caught in the deep for a well-made 42 off 21 balls.

Abhishek then joined the attack and quickly picked up the wicket of Sanju Samson, who was caught by Markram at deep mid-wicket. The duo of SRH spinners kept the pressure on, with Shahbaz tightening the grip further with a double-wicket over, dismissing Riyan Parag and Ravichandran Ashwin. At 80 for five in 12 overs, RR found themselves in a precarious situation.

Despite bringing in Shimron Hetmyer as an Impact Player, RR couldn’t mount a substantial comeback. Rovman Powell was kept at bay by the disciplined SRH bowlers. Dhruv Jurel stood out as the lone fighter, displaying commendable temperament under pressure. Reaching his fifty off 26 balls in the penultimate over, Jurel provided some resistance, but by then, SRH was well on their way to victory.

The left-arm spin duo of Shahbaz and Abhishek proved to be the game-changers, taking five wickets between them and giving away only 47 runs in their combined eight overs. Their stellar performance ensured that SRH set up a rematch of Qualifier 1 and will face Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for the championship title on Sunday in Chennai.

By IPL Agent

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