Saturday saw Chennai Super Kings record another victory as they beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in Pune by six wickets, meeting their target of 127 with two overs to spare. Put into bat, Bangalore suffered at the hands of the Chennai spinners, as Ravindra Jadega and Harbhajan Singh ripped through their batting, with only Partiv Patel and Tim Southee making it into double figures. Opener Patel played very much a lone hand at the top of the innings, making 53 as wickets fell regularly at the other end. When he fell in the 13th over, Bangalore looked like they would post a very low score, and it was only due to some late hitting from Southee, who scored an undefeated 36, that they got anywhere near respectability. Man of the match Jadeja finished with 3 for 18, and Singh took 2 for 22.
In reply, Chennai lost Shane Watson cheaply, but Ambati Rayudu (32) and Suresh Raina (25) steadied matters, and then MS Dhoni, not for the first time in the League this season, steered his side to victory, aided by Dwayne Bravo. Dhoni was 31 not out at the end, including 3 sixes, whilst Bravo was unbeaten on 14.
Meanwhile, the Sunrisers Hyderabad beat the Delhi Daredevils by 7 wickets, reaching their victory target of 163 off the penultimate ball of the match. Winning the toss and deciding to bat first, Delhi overcame the early loss of Glenn Maxwell, and saw Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer put them in a strong position with an 86 run partnership for the second wicket, before Shaw fell to man of the match Rashid Khan for 65, which included 3 sixes. Khan and the other bowlers then helped bring down the scoring rate, before Iyer fell for 44. Khan then was involved in two dismissals in the 17th over, having Risbabh Pant lbw for 18, and then running out Naman Ojha. Vijay Sankar (23 not out) and Daniel Christian (7 not out), then added some late runs as Delhi closed on 163 – 5.
The Sunrisers made a very solid start to their replay, Alex Hayles and Shikhar Dhawan putting on 76 for the first wicket, before Hayles fell to Amit Mishra for 45. The same bowler then accounted for the other opener, Dhawan out for 32, but captain Kane Williamson batted sensibly, and together with Manish Pandey (21) they kept the home side up with the required run rate. Pandey fell at the start of the 18th over, buy Yusuf Pathan then arrived at the crease, and hit 27 not out off just 12 balls, including 2 sixes, as his side successfully reached their victory target.
On Sunday, defending champions, the Mumbai Indians secured another valuable victory, beating the Kolkata Knight Riders by 13 runs, with man of the match Hardik Pandya starring with both bat and ball. Put into bat, Mumbai got off to a strong start as opening pair Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis put on 92 for the first wicket before Lewis fell to Andre Russell for 43, including 2 sixes. Rohit Sharma was out cheaply, but Pandya then joined Yadav at the crease as the home side looked to maintain their momentum. Yadav was out, top scoring with 59, including 2 sixes, but Pandya, first with his namesake Krunal (14), and then with JP Duminy (13 not out) helped Mumbai to reach 181 – 4 at the end of their allotted overs. Pandya was undefeated on 35, which included a six and 4 fours.
Kolkata looked to get off to a fast start of their own, but Chris Lynn fell for 17, and, three balls later, fellow opener Shubman Gill was out to Pandya. Robin Uthappa and Nitesh Rana then combined in a stand of 84 for the third wicket, before Uthappa was out to the bowling of Mayank Markande for 54. Pandya then took his second wicket, capturing Rana for 31, and, although Dinesh Karthik, with an unbeaten 36, kept his side in the game, he lacked meaningful support. Eventually Kolkata reached 168 -6, but they were well short of their target.
In the second match, the Kings XI Punjab beat the Rajasthan Royals by 6 wickets in Indore, in no small measure due to the efforts of their teenage bowling star, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and opening batsman KL Rahul. Put into bat, Rajasthan lost opener D’Arcy Short off the third ball of the match, and then saw captain Ajinkya Rahane perish cheaply. Joss Buttler then added 49 for the third wicket with Sanju Samson, before the latter fell to Andrew Tye for 28. Then 17-year old Rahman made his appearance, with a man of the match 3 for 27. The Afghan spinner took 3 wickets in 4 balls, first accounting for England’s Ben Stokes (12) his compatriot Buttler (51) and then Jofra Archer for a first ball duck. Shreyas Gopal (24) added some late runs, but the final Royals’ total of 152 – 9 never looked like being enough, and so it proved.
Rajasthan enjoyed early success with Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal falling cheaply, but Karin Nair steadied matters with Rahul. Despite the loss of Nair for 31, and the early departure of Axar Patel, the home side were largely untroubled in their run chase, and Rahul and Australian Marcus Stoinis saw them to victory, with an undefeated 5th wicket stand of 68, Stoinis scored 23, whilst Rahul was unbeaten on 84, which included 3 sixes and 7 fours. The defeat pushed Rajasthan to the bottom of the IPL, whilst Punjab strengthened their grip on a play-off spot.
Not for the first time in this tournament, Sunrisers Hyderabad demonstrated their ability to defend a low total on Monday night, defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 5 runs. Put into bat, the home side got off to a poor start, losing openers, Alex Hayles, and Shikhar Dhawan, cheaply. When Manish Pandey fell soon afterwards, the Sunrisers seemed to be struggling. However, another assured performance from their skipper Kane Williamson – later named man of the match – rescued them, as he combined in a 64-run partnership for the 4th wicket with Shakib Al Hasan, before the New Zealander was out for 56, having hit 2 sixes. Eight balls later Shakib departed for 35, and the innings faltered as batsmen chased late runs. The Bangalore bowlers picked up late wickets and there were two runs out for Virat Kohli, as Hyderabad were all out for 146 off the last ball of their innings, with Mohammed Siraj finishing with 3 for 25, and Tim Southee 3 for 30.
In reply, Bangalore got off to a fast start, and despite the early loss of Prithvi Patel who scored a brisk 20, seemed to be well ahead of the run chase, with Kohli leading the way. However, once again, the Hyderabad spinners had a decisive impact, taking 3 wickets for just 10 runs, and drastically slowing the visitors’ momentum. Mandeep Singh and Colin de Grandhomme rebuilt the innings, and it looked like they might just snatch victory, as they began the penultimate over, needing 19 runs off just 12 balls. However, Sidharth Kaul restricted them to just seven runs off the 19th over, and then Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a series of Yorkers which the batsmen could not get away. De Grandhomme fell off the last ball for 33, leaving Singh undefeated on 21, but Bangalore could only muster 141 – 6, suffering a defeat which sees their hopes of reaching the play-offs fade. Sunrisers, for their part, went back to the top of the IPL.