Ambati Rayudu © AFP
Ambati Rayudu © AFP

In Match 46 of VIVO IPL 2018, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) were on course for a total in excess of 190 against Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan’s half-centuries took them to 141 for 2 in 16 overs. However, CSK bowlers removed both and restricted SRH to 180. In reply, Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson pulped SRH — undoubtedly the best attack of the tournament — and walked away with a comprehensive win. Rayudu celebrated his return to the national side after three years with a scintillating 100 not out. This is his first hundred in IPL, and only the fourth of the season.

Chasing 180, Rayudu and Watson took on SRH bowlers after a couple of overs of caution. The pitch had nothing on offer after some movement for the first 10 overs of the SRH innings. Rayudu and Watson helped themselves to a flurry of boundaries once they got their eyes in. Both batsmen looked in their elements and pounced on anything short. Even the slower balls, slightly awry, was send across the ropes.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma couldn’t keep the run rate down. The CSK openers played Rashid Khan with respect, while Shakib Al Hasan remained inconsistent. Rayudu came down the track and hammered some eye-catching straight sixes off both pacers and spinners. At the other end Watson hit with tremendous power. The duo added 134 runs — the highest by an opening pair vs SRH this season — and laid the platform for an easy win.

Watson lost the plot against the run of play. He responded to a call from Rayudu and fell short of a Williamson throw, for 57. Rayudu lost Suresh Raina; owing to a poor stroke off Sandeep. MS Dhoni, at No. 4, was given a reprieve as Manish Pandey dropped a dolly at long-on, off Shakib. In the same over, Rayudu moved into the 90s, stepping out and hitting Shakib for a six and a four.

Rayudu had 3 fifties prior this season to this innings. He capitalised on this opportunity and registered three figures and finished the job for his side.

With this victory, CSK are on 16 points and strengthen their chances for the playoffs. They remain in the top two along with SRH.

Brief scores:

Sunrisers Hyderabad 179 for 4 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 79, Kane Williamson 51, Deepak Hooda 21; Shardul Thakur 2 for 32, Deepak Chahar 1 for 16) lost to Chennai Super Kings 180 for 2 in 19 overs (Ambati Rayudu 100*, Shane Watson 57, MS Dhoni 20*; Sandeep Sharma 1 for 36) by 8 wickets with 6 balls to spare.

Player of the Match: Ambati Rayudu.