It was the fourth ball of the 17th over during the Sunrisers Hyderabad innings — a sharp one from Kings XI Punjab’s Mitchell Johnson aimed at David Warner’s rib-cage. Warner was hurried into his shot but still managed to arch back and pull it past the short fine leg and to the boundary. The whole sequence highlighted the sluggish nature of the surface.
It was a pitch that offered very little assistance to the bowlers. Still, Hyderabad must have thought they had the match in their pocket after scoring 205 for five in 20 overs. After all, they have had fantastic bowling resources at their disposal.
Scores in excess of 200 are not chased often in this format. But Kings XI Punjab had done it against Chennai Super Kings in the UAE, and they did it again here in a rampaging manner. A six-wicket win was secured with eight balls to spare. And this they did in style, with eight balls to spare and damaging an array of records en route to the victory.
Wriddhiman Saha and Manan Vohra set them on course, taking the attack to Dale Steyn in the second over during the chase. They paired up after Virender Sehwag (4) got out early and played without fear. The fourth ball of Steyn’s over was short outside the off stump. Saha pulled it off his front foot to the square leg boundary. A single from the next ball got Vohra on strike. Steyn once again banged it short. This time he saw the ball sail into the stands over the deep midwicket fence. It was complete disregard to reputation. It was exhilarating.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, too, couldn’t stem the flow of runs and conceded 15 in the next over as Saha hit three boundaries. The ‘keeper-batsman then welcomed Moises Henriques with a six over long off. Vohra chipped in with back-to-back fours.
Fastest team hundred
After six overs, Punjab galloped to 86 for one; and with Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey waiting in the dug-out, they gained the upper hand. Half way through the eighth over, they had brought up the team 100 — the fastest by any team in the seven seasons of the IPL.
Hyderabad managed to pull things back a little after the first strategic time-out. Saha departed for a scintillating 26-ball 54 — stumped by Naman Ojha off Karn Sharma — and a 91-run (41 balls) second wicket partnership was broken. But in came Maxwell and off he went with three sixes to finish the over.
Steyn’s second spell was Shikhar Dhawan’s last throw of the dice. But Vohra was in imperious form and the move didn’t work. Hyderabad, however, got a lucky break when Vohra was run out at the non-striker’s end. An unlucky end to a super effort (47 off 20 balls) by the 20-year-old opener who played his first match of this IPL.
Maxwell got out (43 off 22; 2×4, 5×6) in the 14th over, but not before the team had brought up the 150 in just 71 balls — another record in IPL’s history. Amit Mishra should have had him earlier but paid the biggest price for over-stepping. Still, the dismissal offered a window of opportunity for the hosts and things indeed became a little tight for Punjab on the home stretch with 26 runs needed from the last three overs — just 19 had come off the previous four.
Steyn was brought back to bowl his final over and managed to keep the scoring rate down to singles from his first two deliveries. But that’s when Bailey decided to finish things off. Two sixes and as many fours did just that. Game over. Steyn returned with the figures of nought for 51 in four overs. It was a bad day in office for the world’s best fast bowler.
Earlier, Naman Ojha shone bright with a brilliant 36-ball 79 (4×4, 7×6) after Hyderabad were asked to bat first. He built on the foundation laid by Aaron Finch and Dhawan, who added 65 runs for the first wicket. David Warner’s whirlwind 44 at the back end of the innings took the team over the 200-run mark. It was Hyderabad’s best batting effort of the tournament. Yet, it wasn’t nearly enough.