Sunrisers Hyderabad 168 for 2 (Williamson 57, Abhishek 42, Pooran 34*, Pandya 1-27) beat Gujarat Titans 162 for 7 (Pandya 50*, Manohar 35, Natarajan 2-34, Bhuvneshwar 2-37) by eight wickets

After starting the season with successive defeats, Sunrisers Hyderabad have turned it around with back-to-back victories. Two days after swamping Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers’ attack turned up once again, this time to consign Gujarat Titans to their first loss. It was T Natarajan, who led the way for Sunrisers, first striking in the powerplay and then regularly pinging the blockhole in the death, to limit Titans to 162 for 7, despite Hardik Pandya‘s unbeaten half-century.

Titans would’ve ended with fewer runs if not for 20 wides, ten of which came in the first over bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Titans’ total, however, looked bigger when Kane Williamson struggled to get out of first gear in the chase, and when Rahul Tripathi retired hurt on 17 off 11 balls due to cramps. Williamson ultimately hit a higher gear, against his New Zealand team-mate Lockie Ferguson, and notched up a 42-ball fifty. Williamson holed out for 57 off 46 balls, with Sunrisers needing 34 off 23 balls, but Nicholas Pooran closed out the game with a flurry of boundaries along with Aiden Markram.

SRH’s seamers make early inroads

After leaking 17 runs in an uncharacteristic opening over, Bhuvneshwar tightened up in his second, having Shubman Gill caught at short cover, where Tripathi pulled off a blinding one-handed catch. B Sai Sudharshan, who impressed with 35 on debut, against Punjab Kings, made another solid start, but Natarajan cut his innings short at 11 in the sixth over, when he found sharp extra bounce.

Matthew Wade laboured to a run-ball 19 before Umran Malik rushed him for pace and pinned him lbw. In four innings so far, Wade has managed 56 runs at an overall strike-rate of less than 100.

Pandya’s slowdown

Pandya dashed out of the blocks, with a second-ball four, off Natarajan. Malik then pinged Pandya on the grille of his helmet with a searing lifter, but Pandya immediately shook it off with back-to-back fours, the first being an eye-catching high-elbowed drive through extra-cover. And when Pandya launched Markram over midwicket, he brought up his 100th six in the IPL. After zipping away to 22 off 14 balls, Pandya slowed down, managing only 28 off his last 28 balls. The variations of Natarajan and the accuracy of Washington Sundar, who bowled only three overs, in particular, shut down Pandya.

Abhinav rides his luck

Once he walked in, Abhinav Manohar threw his bat at the ball and carved a pair of fours off Malik – both off the outside edge. He then top-edged Bhuvneshwar for four and similarly miscued Natarajan to long-off, where Markram dropped a sitter. Abhinav was on 21 at that point; he got two more lives on 32 and 33 before Tripathi finally caught one in the outfield, off Bhuvneshwar.

Hello, again, yorker king

A recurrence of a knee injury and Covid-19 ravaged Natarajan’s stint in IPL 2021, but this season he has already shown enough signs that he’s back to his best. He tucked up David Miller with hard lengths and even surprised him with a bouncer. Later in the death, he let rip his trademark yorkers, conceding just seven runs off the last over of the innings. Fittingly, he finished Titans’ innings with a yorker that castled Rashid Khan for a duck.

Nobody has bowled more yorkers than Natarajan’s 15 this season. And nobody has more wickets at the death than Natarajan’s five.

SRH’s go-slow

Sunrisers had a quiet start to their chase, scrounging 11 from the first four overs. Williamson could’ve been dismissed in the first over had Pandya reviewed the lbw shout that was deemed not-out on the field. Williamson and Abhishek then flicked on the intent switch, hitting 31 off the last two overs of the powerplay.

Abhishek used the pace and bounce of Ferguson to his advantage, picking him off for four fours in his first over that cost Titans 17 runs.

Then, when Ferguson returned to the attack for the 11th over, Abishek had fallen to Rashid and Williamson was stuck again.

Williamson, Pooran do the job for SRH

After being on 46 off 41 balls, Williamson found the release when he jumped across off and stylishly scooped Ferguson over short fine leg for six. He crunched the next legal delivery from Ferguson for four to celebrate his fifty in style. Sunrisers then suffered a hiccup when Williamson flapped an offcutter from Pandya to long-on, but Pooran teed off to seal the deal.

After Ferguson dropped a difficult return catch to reprieve him on 11, he shanked two sixes and two fours to ensure that Sunrisers didn’t miss Tripathi. Sunrisers, however, might be fretting over the fitness of Washington, who had his right hand strapped in the dugout.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo