Hyderabad: Bouncing back strongly after their humiliating defeat against Vidarbha on Friday, Hyderabad registered a thrilling four-wicket win over Saurashtra in the fourth round league match of Group D Vijay Hazare one-day tournament at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Saturday.
Set to chase 278 for a victory, Hyderabad survived a few hiccups before Akash Bhandari’s blitz (29-ball 41 not out; 5×4, 1×6) steered the home side to victory with three balls remaining. This was Hyderabad’s third win in the group while Saurashtra, who lost to Jammu & Kashmir, suffered their second successive defeat. Saturday is a rest day.
It was a close match but Hyderabad kept their nerves to come out victors. With chairman of selectors MSK Prasad watching the match, skipper Ambati Rayudu (76 off 83 balls, 2×4, 4×6) led from the front with a cool head in Hyderabad’s win. He along with opener Akshath Reddy (96-ball 94; 10×4, 1×6) kept the Saurashtra attack at bay with an 85-run stand for the fourth wicket to raise hopes of Hyderabad’s win.
The confident Akshath, who is in a red-hot form, struck sweetly-timed boundaries even as left-hander Rohit Rayudu (20) and B Sandeep fell early in the Hyderabad’s chase. The left-handed Sandeep threw away his wicket by lofting straight to long-on fielder’s throat. But Akshath and Rayudu batted sensibly. Akshath, who has already hit a century and 75 in this tournament, looked good for his second century. But he needlessly holed out to long-off with six runs away from a well-deserved century.
Rayudu, who struck the ball cleanly, too departed with 19 runs away from victory. It was left to Bhandari to bat boldly to finish off the match. Requiring 16 runs in two overs, Bhandari hit two boundaries off left-arm seamer Jayadev Unadkat in the 49th over to seal the issue.
Earlier, pace bowler Mohammad Siraj, who was hammered by the Vidarbha on Thursday, was not to repeat his mistakes. He bowled straight and fast. In his first four overs, the pace bowler removed opener Robin Uthappa and skipper Cheteshwar Pujara. Uthappa was done in by a ball which swung in sharply while Pujara was beaten by a delivery that moved late. Left-hander Ravindra Jadeja, who went wicket less also, was dismissed for seven. He was out to Ravi Teja. Saurashtra slipped 52 for 3. Opener Samarth Vyas made 57 before being castled by leg spinner Bhandari.
Saurashtra fought back through A V Vasavada (49) and Perak Mankad (62). Hyderabad controlled the middle overs very nicely. Debutant off-spinner Saketh Sairam impressed with his loop and variations. Siraj took his third wicket by scalping the wicket of Mankad and Saurashtra had to settle for a less than 300-run target.