Saha’s quickfire half-century sets up another successful over-200 run chase
Dense clouds hovered over Hyderabad on Wednesday evening, heaven’s artillery threatening to bombard the historic city as night approached. Instead it rained sixes at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium in a cracker of a contest that saw the white sphere sail over the ropes no less than two dozen times.
In the battle of big hitting, Kings XI Punjab, faced with a challenge of chasing down Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 205, prevailed with eight balls to spare.
The Kings made light of the loss of Virender Sehwag in the very first over. His non-striker Wridhiman Saha combined with young Manan Vohra to plunder the Power Play overs, clearing the fieldsmen often and with ease.
Against an asking rate of 10.25, the marauding two-some had cruised to 13.25 by the end of the fifth over itself. Saha’s half-hour sortie for a quick-fire 54 (8x4, 2x6) ended when he was stumped by Ojha, as stepped out to Karn Sharma.
Glenn Maxwell announced his arrival in his trademark style, heaving the leggie thrice over the cow corner and mid-wicket hoardings. Meanwhile Vohra, unfazed by reputations in the exuberance of youth, struck fast bowling champion of the world Dale Steyn for a six over mid-wicket.
His exit was unfortunate, caught out of bounds when backing up as Bhuvneshwar Kumar palmed the ball to the wicket at the bowler’s end.
Maxwell enjoyed his slice of luck though, staging a return after an Amit Mishra delivery that dismissed him was ruled a no-ball. Presently, belligerence got the better of the orange cap holder, as he aimed another big blow at a Mishra ball that turned away from him, the miscued hit ballooning to Steyn at long off.
With 47 required for victory from 41 balls, Punjab skipper George Bailey joined Miller, prudence making way for valour as caution took precedence over adventure. David Warner’s boot-strap low grab let off Bailey with 29 needed from 20.
The captain kept his cool though, a brace of big hits and as many boundaries off Steyn bringing his side within shaking hands distance of the target at an easy equation of four runs from a dozen balls. In the fitness of things, Bailey signed off with a six to seal victory.
Slamming sixes never seemed as easy as when Ojha patted seven of them in an undefeated 79 that took the Eagles to its tallest total this season. The wait had been worth the while.
After the host was invited to bat, Shikhar Dhawan regained his long-lost touch. Taut, tattooed muscle swung into motion in the game’s fifth over, as the Sunrisers’ skipper tore into Sandeep Sharma, ransacking four boundaries and a big one off the seamer.
His 37-ball 45, adorned with two sixes and five boundaries, served as a fine launch-pad for the batsmen who followed.
Aaron Finch, attempting to cut off-spinner Shivam Sharma bowling round the wicket, found his woodwork rearranged. Ojha, who came in one-down, seemed to have been straining at the leash, making the most of his promotion in the batting hierarchy.
The tall wicket-keeper batsman’s first two boundaries came after he had cleared the fence four times with fluid front-foot stroke-play. The ball breezed into the stands, much to the delight of a 26,000 plus home-crowd that came braving over 40 degree temperatures.
At the other end, Warner was at his ferocious best, carting compatriot Mitchell Johnson for two fours and hoisting Akshar Patel twice over the hoardings.
The left-right duo put on 81 runs for the third wicket, by far the most productive partnership for the twin-cities based team, which struck a rich vein in the last five overs too, that yielded 78, thanks largely to Ojha.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Aaron Finch b Shivam Sharma 20 (23b, 2x4), Shikhar Dhawan c Shivam b Rishi Dhawan 45 (37b, 5x4, 2x6), Naman Ojha (not out) 79 (36b, 4x4, 7x6), David Warner run out 44 (23b, 3x4, 3x6), Moises Henriques c Miller b Sandeep 0 (1b), Irfan Pathan c Miller b Rishi Dhawan 1 (2b), Karn Sharma not out 1 (1b); Extras (lb-1, nb-3, w-11): 15;
Total (for five wickets): 205.
Fall of wickets: 1-65 (Finch), 2-88 (Dhawan), 3-169 (Warner), 4-183 (Henriques), 5-196 (Irfan).
Kings XI Punjab bowling: Sandeep Sharma 4-0-65-1, Mitchell Johnson 4-0-26-0, Shivam Sharma 4-0-31-1, Akshar Patel 4-0-40-0, Rishi Dhawan 4-0-42-2.
Kings XI Punjab: Virender Sehwag c & b Bhuvneshwar 4 (2b, 1x4), Manan Vohra run out 47 (20b, 5x4, 2x6), Wriddhiman Saha st. Ojha b Karn Sharma 54 (26b, 8x4, 2x6), Glenn Maxwell c Steyn b Mishra 43 (22b, 2x4, 5x6), David Miller (not out) 24 (24b, 1x4), George Bailey (not out) 35 (19b, 2x4, 3x6); Extras (lb-3, nb-1): 4
Total (for four wickets in 18.4 overs): 211.
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Sehwag), 2-95 (Saha), 3-125 (Vohra), 4-159 (Maxwell).
Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3.4-0-38-1, Dale Steyn 4-0-51-0, Moises Henriques 2-0-36-0, Karn Sharma 4-0-46-1, Amit Mishra 4-0-32-1, Irfan Pathan 1-0-5-0.
Man-of-the-match: Wriddhiman Saha
KXIP won by 6 wickets with 8 balls to spare