Sunrisers Hyderabad fans enjoy during the T20 cricket match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders at Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium, in Hyderabad. (Satish Bate/HT)
Darren Sammy's two sixes could not have come at a more tense moment for Sunrisers Hyderabad. With victory hopes hanging by a thread after the already eliminated Kolkata Knight Riders sprang into life, they needed something special to go through to the play-offs as the fourth team.
That is when Sammy landed those big blows. It not just lifted the Hyderabad crowd, it also made sure Sammy's fellow Caribbean Chris Gayle, the league's biggest draw, will not be seen in action anymore as Royal Challengers Bangalore were knocked out.
Hyderabad joined twice winners Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and the crisis-hit Rajasthan Royals in play-offs. Scorecard
It was Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan's opening partnership that saved the day for the Sunrisers, who again restricted the opposition. Yusuf Pathan's effort with the bat was eclipsed. Mainmen
Pathan barely swayed away from a fiery Dale Steyn bouncer aimed at his head in the second last over. He did slam the next delivery over mid wicket for six but to make sure Steyn does not forget the shot in a hurry, Pathan raised both his arms and applauded himself. At the top of his run-up, Steyn too applauded. The irritated KKR all-rounder asked the South Africa pacer to mind his business.
The war of words continued over the next two balls, ending only when the umpires and teammates stepped in. Pathan (49 not out) stretched the total to 130 for seven. With the Sunrisers needing a win to reach the playoffs, the ball was in Hyderabad batsmen’s court. Patel and Dhawan provided a solid start and Hyderabad had victory in sight.
Dhawan (42) was slow to start, but turned aggressive once he had his eye in. His best moment came when he came down the track and Jaques Kallis banged in short. The opener showed quick reflexes to make the adjustment, jumping and hitting the bouncer over deep point for six.
But the loss of quick wickets and a Sunil Narine maiden over, left Sunrisers needing 15 from 12 balls. But Sammy's two sixes off successive deliveries from left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla settled the contest.