Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) ended their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 campaign on a winning note, thanks to half-centuries by Shimron Hetmyer and Gurkeerat Singh Mann, which helped the side register a four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and keep the Orange Army's dream of advancing to the play-offs uncertain. It was the crucial 144-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Hetmyer (75 off 47) and Gurkeerat (65 off 48) which set the platform for a much-needed victory for the hosts.
Hetmyer's knock contained four boundaries and six hits into the stands while Gurkeerat's innings was laced with eight fours and a six. For entering the play-offs, Hyderabad will now have to depend on the result of Sunday's contest between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians as both Kolkata and Hyderabad have 12 points each.
Chasing a 176-run target, the hosts were off to a worst possible start as they lost opener Parthiv Patel (0) in the very first over with just a run on board, courtesy Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Things worsened for the home side as Khaleel Ahmed packed back RCB skipper Virat Kohli (16 off 7) while Bhuvneshwar struck again in his second over to send back A.B. de Villers, reducing the hosts to 20/3 in just 2.3 overs. It seemed RCB would suffer another batting collapse but the story turned a different way as Hetmyer and Gurkeerat not only denied the visitors from making any further inroads but also anchored their innings with some sensible strokeplays.
The duo slowly lifted RCB touch the 50-run mark in 6.1 overs before guiding their side to the three-digit mark in 11.5 overs as most of the Hyderabad bowlers looked helpless and struggled to break the partnership. At one stage, it seemed both Hetmyer and Gurkeerat would themselves guide their team home. However, with RCB just 12 runs away from victory off 15 balls, Hyderabad leggie Rashid Khan dismissed the former, who while trying to clear the long-off boundary mistimed a shot to hand a catch to Vijay Shankar.
Khaleel then sent back Gurkeerat in the 19th over to bring back his team in the contest and make the one-sided affair look interesting before RCB's lower-order batsman Umesh Yadav smashed Mohammad Nabi for two consecutive boundaries in the final over to help his side cross the line with four balls to spare. For Hyderabad, Khaleel was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/34 while Bhuvneshwar scalped two for 24. Earlier, skipper Kane Williamson's brisk unbeaten half-century had propelled Hyderabad to a fighting 175/7.
Despite a good start, Hyderabad were at 147/7 in 19 overs before Williamson (70 off 43) clobbered Umesh for 28 runs in the final six balls to help his side reach a challenging total. For the home side, Washington Sundar starred with the ball and picked up three wickets for 20 runs and Navdeep Saini got two wickets for 39 runs. Williamson's knock was laced with five boundaries and four sixes.
Asked to bat, the visitors were off to a flying start as openers Martin Guptill (30 off 23) and Wriddhiman Saha (20 off 11) added 29 runs in the first three overs. The developing partnership, however, didn't last long as Saini's slower delivery was misread by Saha and he ended up giving an easy catch to Umesh at mid-on, leaving his side at 46/1. Hyderabad then lost Guptill and Manish Pandey in quick succession as Sundar accounted for both, leaving the visitors reeling at 61/3 in 7.5 overs. Vijay Shankar (27 off 18) and Williamson then repaired the damages and added 45 runs to take Hyderabad past the three-digit mark.
With everything going well for the visitors, Sundar once again came with a breakthrough and packed back Vijay in the 14th over as Hyderabad scorecard read 106/4.
Hyderabad then lost Yusuf Pathan (3), Nabi (4) and Rashid (1) in quick succession with the addition of just 33 runs.
Williamson not only kept the scoreboard ticking but also hammered Bangalore bowlers at regular intervals before his last over carnage took his side to a fighting total.
Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 178/6 in 19.2 overs (Shimron Hetmyer 75, Gurkeerat Singh Mann 65; Khaleel Ahmed 3/37) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 175/7 (Kane Williamson 70 not out, Martin Guptill 30; Washington Sundar 3/24) by 4 wickets