Synopsis: Amla misses out on ton but shows what IPL has been missing all these years. While the return of Singh to hometown sends Kings packing.
What was missing in IPL
Hashim Amla has never played in the IPL. Perhaps the perception that he is a “Test player” has a lot to with it, even though he averages over 52 in ODIs and 31.50 in T20Is. In February, he was ignored in the auction and it was only after Kings XI Punjab lost Shaun Marsh (ODI avg 39.51 and T20I avg 18.21) to injury that they drafted in Amla. The scores of 1, 21 and 0 in the first three matches seemed to be adding weight to the dismissive “Test player” theory. It was against this context that he came out to open with Murali Vijay in what was a must-win match for Punjab against the table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Three boundaries off Hyderabad’s reliable left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra in the second over of the innings must have settled some nerves, even though his composure never betrays any. Amla would score 20 runs off nine balls by Nehra, who would later hobble off with a leg injury.
Undeterred by the fall of in-form Murali Vijay and Wridhiman Saha, Amla brought up his fifty in 30 balls. Soon he would unleash his full range of shots, which included walking outside the off stump and scooping the ball over the wicketkeeper/short fine leg’s head for four — as if telling everyone, look, I can play these stokes too. He used it to superb effect against Hyderabad’s trump card Mustafizur Rahman, who is often looking for the yorker. Three fours against the Bangladesh in the 17th over and another against Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 18th took him into the 90s. He would eventually fall four runs short of a deserved century but had done enough to take Punjab to 179 and, in the process, show that he very much belonged.
Return of the native
For this game, Hyderabad dropped their third highest run-getter this season, Kane Williamson. The decision must have looked even worse at innings break as they faced a 180-run chase on a rather big ground. But then David Warner has been in supreme touch this season, scoring five fifties in the tournament. He was going to be the key. And Warner did not disappoint. Warner-Shikhar Dhawan milked 50 runs in the powerplay. Warner went on to complete his sixth half-century of the season before being hit-wicket off Axar Patel. SRH still needed 83 runs off 47 balls. Deepak Hooda, who was promoted up the order, added 42 runs off 23 balls with Yuvraj Singh as Hyderabad before holing out to deep midwicket. However, some power-hitting by Yuvraj, who was once Kings XI’s icon player, in the last five overs along with Ben Cutting’s cameo took Hyderabad to a seven-wicket victory with two balls to spare. Yuvraj returned unbeaten with 24-ball 42 a knock that sent his team into the playoff, and his hometown team out of contention.
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 179/4 in 20 overs [ H Amla 96 off 56 balls (14×4, 2×6), D Miller 20 off 9 balls (2×4, 1×6), B Kumar 2-32, Mustafizur 1-32 ] lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad 180/3 in 19.4 overs [ D Warner 52 off 41 balls (5×4,1×6), Yuvraj 42* off 24 balls (3×4, 3×6), D Hooda 34 off 22 balls (3×4, 1×6), Axar Patel 1-26 ]me.