Kings XI Punjab have showed this season that no total is too big for them. Such has been the batting consistency that even when Glenn Maxwell has not fired, or relatively failed going by the lofty standards he has set, the collective batting effort has carried the team to victories.
Still, Hyderabad Sunrisers, looking to rise from mid table, would have backed themselves to defend 205 at the halfway mark. After all, they had Dale Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in their ranks. And when Virender Sehwag fell cheaply, it looked like the hosts were in with a good chance to bring KXIP under pressure.
But Kings XI once again were relentless. After Manan Vohra (47) and Wriddhiman Saha (54) had done the damage, Maxwell (43) and David Miller (24) kept up such an excellent run rate that left skipper George Bailey (35 no, 19 b) in excellent position to finish it off, launching a stunning assault on Steyn to take the score to 211/4 with eight balls left.
In the previous match at home, Sunrisers had barely crossed 150 against Mumbai Indians.
This time opener Naman Ojha (79 no, 36 b, 4x4, 7x6), skipper Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner fired for the hosts on a perfect day for the batsmen.
Even after a slow start, the Sunrisers batting flourished in only their second home game. Dhawan (45, 37b, 5x4, 2x6) struck Sandeep Sharma for 26 runs in the fifth over. Offie Shivam Sharma bowled Aaron Finch (20, 23b, 2x4), but thereafter it was Naman dictating terms.
He and Warner defied the Punjab bowlers, starting to hit fours and sixes with ease. They duo added 81 runs for the third-wicket before Warner fell in a suicidal run out, but Naman continued aggressively to post his season’s best.
The Punjab batsmen never let the run rate drop even after Sehwag was caught and bowled off the second ball of the innings. Vohra and Saha took the bowlers to the cleaners in their 91-run second wicket partnership.
Maxwell survived off a no ball by leggie Amit Mishra and continued his good run, hitting a 22-ball 43 with two fours and five sixes, including three off the first five balls from spinner Karn Sharma. Bailey clobbered two fours and two sixes off Steyn in the 18th over before sealing victory.
However, the six-wicket defeat in the end left Hyderabad, fifth in the table, facing a battle to make it to the playoffs while Kings XI, having achieved their eighth win in 10 games, were back on top of the table.
The result means Sunrisers, last year’s semi-finalists, need to win their next two games on home soil to stay alive for a play-off berth.