Just when the winning streak of teams batting second looked over, Sunrisers Hyderabad gave it a fresh lease of life. Saturday’s chase was an extension of how they have gone about this particular business in their previous two matches. But this victory was fashioned by Hyderabad’s bowlers, particularly by Mustafizur Rahman, who finished with 2/9, including a maiden.
Kings XI Punjab didn’t have much batting confidence going into the match. Their struggle was only compounded by the skill of Rahman and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. If Kumar was slippery with his small doses of swing initially, it was so difficult to read Rahman that debutant Nitin Naik looked outclassed. It was Naik’s fighting 22, however, topped-up by a 17-ball 36 from Axar Patel, that gave the visitors a defendable score. But it wasn’t only their bowling that made Hyderabad’s performance look thorough. Their fielding too was sharp.
Like Rahman, who after a maiden over, threw himself across the turf to complete a fabulous catch of Glenn Maxwell. The Aussie’s dry run in the IPL seems unending. David Warner was athletic in the deep. Even Kumar was electric at point where he almost latched on to a difficult catch from Marsh in the 13th over. It could have effectively ended Punjab’s resistance.
Marsh didn’t stay long enough to make an impact, courtesy that cutter from Rahman. It deceived Marsh into a plod, only to nip back and hit his pad dead in front of the stumps.
Luck was on Hyderabad’s side too.
Shikhar Dhawan nearly chopped Kyle Abbott on to his stumps in the second over but recovered to send the next ball past cover point for a boundary. Warner joined the party next over by going down on his knee and lifting Sandeep Sharma over long-off for a huge six.
Another six two deliveries later and Hyderabad were off to a solid start that produced an opening partnership of 90 runs. A second consecutive wicketless chase looked possible and could have made this win look more comprehensive, but David Miller saved Punjab the blushes by holding on to Warner’s lofted shot at long-on.