Thanks to the combined efforts of their batting unit – including Wriddhiman Saha, Manan Vohra, Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey – Kings XI Punjab comfortably chased down the 206-run target set by Sunrisers Hyderabad. While Naman Ojha’s stellar half-century was the talk of the town at half-time, Saha’s early blitz soon overshadowed all performances that preceded it. And after a record-setting start – that included KXIP bringing up the fastest 100 and 150 in IPL history – the middle order did the trick for the table-toppers.
Earlier, George Bailey won the toss and elected to field first. The decision seemed to have worked for SRH as Shikhar Dhawan, who was well supported by Aaron Finch, got off to a good start. After getting his eye in, the SRH skipper played a big role in plundering 26 runs off Sandeep Sharma in the fifth over. Thanks to these early exploits, SRH notched up 55 runs in the powerplay without losing a single wicket. In fact, the first-wicket pair brought up 65 runs, before Finch (20) was dismissed by Rishi Dhawan in the ninth over.
By the halfway stage, SRH had posted 72 for one with Shikhar Dhawan (45) going great guns, along with Naman Ojha for company. However, a half-century would elude the SRH skipper, who had to return to the dugout just five runs short of it; Shivam Sharma bowled him out in the 12th over. Ojha then brought SRH back in the contest back by helping score 16 runs off the very next over. And then, David Warner joined in the blitz as the duo picked up another 16 runs from the 15th over to take their team’s score to 127 for two.
The two batsmen then added 42 runs – including 18 off the 18th over – off the next 19 deliveries, before Warner (44) was run-out off the first ball of the 19th over. But Ojha carried on unfazed; he got to his half-century with a boundary off Sandeep Sharma. And while the KXIP pacer picked up Moises Henriques’ (0) wicket, Ojha took him to the cleaners and helped pick 26 runs off the 19th over. Irfan Pathan (0) also got out without troubling the scorers; Rishi Dhawan claimed his wicket in the final over. Ojha (79*), however, ensured SRH got past the 200-run mark as he struck another maximum – the seventh of his 36-ball knock. Thanks to the middle-order batsman’s big-hitting, his team posted a total of 205 for five in 20 overs.
In response, KXIP lost Virender Sehwag (4) in the first over; Bhuvneshwar Kumar caught the veteran opener off his own bowling. However, Wriddhiman Saha, who walked in at No.3, took charge of the innings as Manan Vohra played a great supporting role to him. As a result of an early onslaught, KXIP raced past 50 in the fourth over of the run-chase. And the big-hitting was far from over as Saha brought up his half-century in the sixth over – which yielded 20 runs – en route to bringing up a whopping 86 runs in the powerplay.
Finally, SRH caught a break when Karn Sharma ended Saha’s (54) 26-ball blitz in the eighth over. At 95 for two, another big-hitter – Glenn Maxwell – came in to bat, and he did not take too long to unleash his willow. After facing a dot-ball first up, the destructive batter struck a six to take SRH past the 100-run mark in just 7.3 overs – the fastest that any team has got to triple digits in the IPL. Maxwell followed it up with two more sixes in that over. He added 30 runs off 12 balls with Vohra (47), until the latter was run-out in the 10th over.
With KXIP needing 81 runs off 65 balls, KXIP’s two Ms – Maxwell and David Miller – joined forces. While Miller worked the ball around for singles, Maxwell continued with the big hits, as the pair compiled 34 runs in quick time. However, Maxwell’s (43) 22-ball blitz was ended by Amit Mishra in the 14th over. However, by then the run-chase equation had come down drastically – 47 runs off 41 balls. The SRH bowlers then bowled a few tight overs, which induced a lofted shot from George Bailey that was claimed by Warner; but after replays suggested that the fielder had grassed it, the KXIP skipper got a much-needed respite.
Given that there were no boundaries hit during a three-and-a-half-over stretch leading up to the 18th over, the SRH bowlers had snuck their team back into contention – as the run-chase equation read 26 runs off 18 balls. But Bailey then struck a welcome six, followed by a four, to bring the required run-rate down to a run-a-ball. He then, struck another maximum and a boundary, and took Dale Steyn for 22 runs in the 18th over. With just four needed off two overs, Bailey (35*) and Miller (24*) took their team across the line with five wickets in hand and eight balls to spare. Man of the Match: Wriddhiman Saha for his game-changing knock