Eight balls, four wickets and three runs — Gujarat Lions went from 118 for one to 123 for five for a spectacular collapse in its final IPL match here that had value for only one team. Sunrisers Hyderabad made sure it made the opportunity count, cantering to an eight-wicket win here on Saturday and, with it, confirming a spot for itself in the playoffs.
Chasing a below-par 155 was always going to be easy and SRH, riding on an unbeaten and relaxed 133-run partnership between skipper David Warner and Vijay Shankar for the third wicket, made merry in 18.1 overs. The win also kept SRH's unbeaten record against GL intact in five face-offs, all won chasing. It was also the first time this season that a team won without hitting a single six.
GL had its chances. Warner, whose patient innings was more about placement that power, was not given out caught behind on 29 off leg-spinner Ankit Soni despite the snickometer later showing a thick edge. Shankar was dropped on seven by Dinesh Karthik. Praveen Kumar, coming in for Basil Thampi, dismissed a dangerous-looking Shikhar Dhawan and Moises Henriques in his second over – with variations in pace and angle that proved he still had the swing in him. But it wasn't enough.
Lack of energy in the Gujarat fielders meant misfields cost the host at least 20 runs. After a point, it looked like Gujarat had simply given up and was going through the motions.
Earlier, folding up for 154 in 19.2 overs wasn't the end the host would have envisaged when openers Ishan Kishan and Dwayne Smith were smashing all around, racing to 105 in the first ten overs. As long as the duo was batting, Gujarat looked set to go past 200 with ease. Kishan (61) got his highest IPL score, Smith got his own half century and together they plundered the SRH bowling.
A boundary each from both in the very first over of Bhuvneshwar Kumar set the tone before Kishan took charge. Siddarth Kaul was welcomed with a nonchalant six over fine leg and Rashid Khan was received with another imperious one over midwicket that also brought up his 50. Smith was equally effective at the other end before Rashid broke the partnership, snaring him leg-before. And then, it stopped.
Kishan and Suresh Raina fell two balls apart to give Mohammed Siraj his first of four wickets in the 13th. The other two would again come in a single over, the 17th, when he accounted for James Faulkner and Pradeep Sangwan. Rashid got two of his own in the 14th, sending back Dinesh Karthik and Aaron Finch. And just like that, GL had lost the core of its batting. Ravindra Jadeja kept chipping away but had no support. In the end, even he the world's best all-rounder could not save his team from bowing out on a losing note.
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