IPL 2019: KL Rahul holds firm to guide Kings XI Punjab past Sunrisers Hyderabad

KL Rahul added 114 runs with Mayank Agarwal for the second wicket to put Kings XI Punjab in the driver's seat.

KL Rahul struck an unbeaten 53-ball 71 to guide Kings XI Punjab to victory.   -  IPL

Kings XI Punjab returned to home comfort and to winning ways, leapfrogging into the third spot on the table with a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Monday, despite a late mini-collapse in a below-par chase of 151.

The host appeared to have learnt its lessons in pacing the chase and Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul ensured there would be no finishing hiccups a second time. The duo did not let the early dismissal of Chris Gayle affect their scoring, getting individual half-centuries and adding 114 runs for the second wicket to put Punjab in control. The only difference was the routes they took — Rahul preferring grounded strokes while Agarwal went aerial for his runs.

As it happened| Highlights: KL and Mayank star in close win for Punjab

They seemed to be playing on a different pitch from what the SRH batsmen struggled on, and the conditions did not make it any easier for the visitor. Dew helped the ball come on better to the bat, the ball raced to the boundaries faster and some fumbles in the field by SRH  — including a dropped sitter by Yusuf Pathan of Agarwal on 42 with KXIP still needing 37 runs for victory. It lost three wickets in the last three overs for 16 runs but the Agarwal-Rahul partnership had done enough by then.

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Uncharacteristic Warner

Earlier, it was an uncharacteristically slow knock by Warner who remained unbeaten on 70 that included six hits to the boundary and a single six. In fact, the entire SRH innings had a grand total of two sixes — the other one by Deepak Hooda off the last ball of the innings. Hooda’s 14 runs in the last three balls saw SRH managing 150, almost 30 runs short of the par score.

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The presence of Warner did give SRH the anchor it needed after losing Jonny Bairstow in the second over. The middle order that crumbled in the previous game made amends, Vijay Shankar avoiding any flashy shot in favour of a strenuous partnership and Manish Pandey later on mixing caution with aggression to keep the scoreboard ticking.

But at 50 for one in the first 10 overs, R. Ashwin’s decision to put SRH in looked to be ticking the right boxes. Warner struggled to find the gaps and the pitch stayed slow and low to make strokeplay difficult, his 50 in 49 balls being his slowest IPL half-century.

Shankar nicked Ashwin behind in the 11th over and Mohammad Nabi was run out by the KXIP skipper, deflecting a return shot from Warner to the stumps even as Nabi backed off almost halfway down the pitch. It looked like SRH would end up without enough to defend, and it did.