For the second time in succession, Sunrisers Hyderabad cocked a snook at a side stacked with batting riches. The host not only got away with it, but pulled another incredible win out of the hat, bringing Kings XI Punjab crashing down to earth at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium on Thursday night. Defending a modest 132 for six, Sunrisers terminated Punjab’s pursuit at 119 with four balls to spare.
When the chase began, K.L. Rahul, more cavalier than his Caribbean comrade Chris Gayle, cracked a quartet of boundaries and a big one, as if to prove his credentials. That poise slipped when Rashid Khan entered the scene, as the leggie beat the opener once and then uprooted his off-stump with a mystery ball that crashed into the woodwork out of nowhere.
Basil Thampi then felled the big bird, Gayle not quite able to get the measure of the former’s bouncer. Thampi’s joy knew no bounds as he clasped the caught-and-bowled chance off a skier descending not far from the batsman. The rest of the top and middle order surrendered meekly.
Offered first strike, the host writhed in the throes of a serious batting meltdown thanks to some high velocity stuff from Ankit Rajpoot (five for 14). The strapping speedster had Williamson slashing at a chest-high delivery, the ball ballooning to Ashwin at mid-off.
If that wasn’t a big enough blow for the Sunrisers, Shikhar Dhawan departed soon, snicking to first slip Karun Nair, also off Rajpoot.
Spearing the ball in from the pinnacle of his high-arm action, the six-footer used all of his height to get the ball to lift and move off the seam, much to the discomfiture of the home side batsmen, five of six falling to the hostile fare that the 24-year-old served up. Fittingly, he bagged top scorer Manish Pandey (54, 3 x 4, 1 x 6) too, a precisely deployed sand-shoe crusher castling the Karnataka batsman, two balls from the close.
With his side hardly in the pink of health, Wriddhiman Saha swung at a rising Rajpoot delivery, only to lob a simple catch to mid-wicket Andrew Tye. Thanks to Barinder Sran overstepping, Shakib Al Hasan was a born-again batsman, albeit briefly, cracking two boundaries off the left-armer in the same over.
Sunrisers had sunk to its lowest PowerPlay score (37 for 3) this season. Hyderabad hobbled to its 50 in eight overs, not getting much further halfway through the innings, posting only 57.
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