Shikhar Dhawan, bowlers star as Sunrisers Hyderabad spoil Rajasthan Royals‘ IPL…

If Ajinkya Rahane ever plans to list a few dates as the worst of his playing career, Monday’s game against Sunrisers Hyderabad should feature somewhere near the top. The stage was set. To lead a team that was making a comeback in the fold after two years, a captain’s knock would have been a perfect display of intent not just for himself, but also for a side that had lifted the silverware in the very first edition. ()

Instead, he scored 13 off as many balls and dropped Shikhar Dhawan in the very first over, allowing him to score a match-winning 73. To make matters worse, Rajastan Royals look far from being a unit. The batting was nowhere near to what it should boast of. The bowling looked pretty wayward and for a captain with the amount of international experience that Rahane has, there was a clear lack of plan B throughout the course of the game.()

Dhawan started from where he had left last season, slamming boundaries at will and leading the batting unit in the absence of David Warner. Laced with 13 boundaries and a towering six over third man, there couldn’t have been a better day for the Indian opener. Apart from that let-off, he was in supreme form and shared an unbeaten second-wicket stand of 121 runs with skipper Kane Williamson. The Kiwi, also a stand-in captain for his side, started well, racing to 12 off six balls before letting Dhawan take over the stage.

READ:

Earlier, it was a lone show from Sanju Samson as his side put up a below-par 125/9 after being put to bat. Laced with five boundaries, Samson had upped the ante for his side for a while before wickets started to fall at regular intervals, forcing him to curb his explosive style.

Samson, who came after D’Arcy Short was run out in the very first over, looked in good nick right from the start as he timed the balls well against an attack that never introduced spin from both ends. But the combination worked for the hosts as the spinners gave away just 46 runs from their combined eight overs while picking up the prized wickets of Samson, Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi.

With Rahane and Stokes back in the pavilion, Samson and Tripathi were heading at a modest rate at the half-way mark, rotating the strike well while gearing up to finish on a high. However, with Shakib Al Hasan removing both in the space of four deliveries in the 14th over, the writing was on the wall. Buttler was perhaps demoted down the order only for such a situation, but even he failed to live up to his reputation as Rashid Khan cleaned him up with a beautiful googly.