Until this match, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s best score in the power-play overs was 59 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Without much hassle, against a generous set of bowlers, they easily bettered that on a Mohali featherbed.
The Punjab pacers began decently—Ishant Sharma and Anureet Singh conceded only 33 runs in the first four overs. But then the hosts missed a trick. They introduced left-arm spinner Axar Patel in the fifth over, and he was clouted for 17 runs in the over. It could still have been a useful over, had Wriddhiman Saha clung on to Warner’s edge off the last delivery. But Warner’s confidence was far from dented, as he plundered 26 runs off the next 13 balls, unfurling his preferred strokes like the pull and slog sweep.
At the other end, Dhawan was threading gaps and finding boundaries with as much ease and better finesse. He was especially severe on leg-spinner KC Cariappa, who he smoked for 18 runs. Punjab changed the bowlers’ around, but none could effectively put brakes on their freewheeling. And it’s quite a sight to behold when these two buccaneering southpaws go about their business. They are as diverse as chalk and cheese—Warner relies on brute force while Dhawan is keener on timing the ball.
Dhawan was especially clinical on the leg-side, especially behind the square-leg. As many as 31 of his 77 runs came between in the arc between square-leg and fine-leg. Warner, meanwhile, was stronger down the ground, and he did something he hardly managed to do during the recent Test series, that is using his feet against the spinners. Axar was hefted for a brace of sixes off consecutive deliveries. Then, unlike Ashwin and Jadeja in the Test series, Axar hardly tested him with flight or change of pace. His non-existent turn also meant he could go through with the shots even if he didn’t reach to the pitch of the ball. It was not just about the big strokes either, as they efficiently rotated the strike and soaked in only 15 dots. Thus in exactly 10 overs, they looted 107 runs, laying the platform for a monstrous score. Though there was an fleeting lull, Kane Williamson powered them to a lofty total with a 27-ball 54, studded with four boundaries and two sixes.
Marsh’s heroics in vain
Any realistic hopes of a win rested on Punjab’s batting ammo upfront. Even without their talisman Hashim Amla, they had amidst them the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Manan Vohra, Martin Guptill and Eoin Morgan. But inside the first five overs, they lost Maxwell, Vohra and Gutpill. That they were still in the game until the 17th over was credit to Marsh’s brilliance. The Australian, who also survived two dropped catches, shredded the reputed Sunrisers’ bowlers like few other batsmen in this edition.
The crowd had begun to filter out of the stadium after their early collapse. But Marsh ensured there was still some lingering hope. At one point they required 100 runs off less that 50 balls, but Marsh tore into the bowlers and made the impossible look possible. But the ever-reliable Bhuvneshwar returned to account for his wicket. With him vanished their best hopes. Then without him, they would have lost badly, their run-rate would have been massively dented.
Kaul and Khan combo
Though Bhuvneshwar was still their most impactful bowler, Siddharth Kaul and Rashid Khan too chipped in with useful performances. Khan conceded only 16 runs and piled in the pressure with 14 dot balls. Kaul, meanwhile, varied his pace and took the important wicket of Maxwell. He then later came back to nail Saha, who had looked in woeful touch, and Axar Patel, who is more than capable of cameos.
Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 207/3 in 20 overs (Dhawan 77 off 48 balls, Williamson 54 off 27, Warner 51 off 27; Maxwell 2/29) bt Kings XI Punjab 181/9 in 20 overs (Shaun Marsh 84 off 50 balls, Siddharth Kaul 3/36, Ashish Nehra 3/32, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/27 ) by 26 runs.
For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App now