Sunrisers top table after another low-scorer
Sunrisers Hyderabad 127 for 5 (Vihari 46, Gony 2-24) beat Kings XI Punjab 123 for 9 (Gilchrist 26, K Sharma 2-19) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For the second match in a row, Sunrisers Hyderabad turned it on in the penultimate over to clinch a tight victory and go top of the table, defying all pre-tournament predictions. While Amit Mishra conjured a heist in the previous match with a hat-trick, this time it was Thisara Perera's three massive sixes in the 19th over that settled the game.
Kings XI Punjab's Azhar Mahmood got a duck in the previous match against Kolkata Knight Riders, but he made up for that with a three-wicket haul. He failed with the bat again, and was doing a terrific job of compensating with the ball once again, having given away only 15 in his first three overs. With the game on the line - 18 needed off 12 - Kings XI trusted in Mahmood again, but this time he came up short, as he served up three length deliveries that were clobbered into the crowd by Perera.
The first six over long-on would have exorcised some demons for Perera. A week ago, in the game against Delhi Daredevils, he had attempted a similar shot in a similar match situation and had picked out the man at long-on, leaving the tailenders the responsibility of closing out the chase. Today, there was no chance for the fielder at long-on, as the ball sailed comfortably beyond the rope to effectively seal the match.
In a game featuring two of the weakest batting line-ups in the competition, and on a turning track, another low-scoring encounter was to be expected. Adam Gilchrist, yet again, played some cracking cuts to raise hopes of a run-filled game, but his 26 proved to be the highest score of the innings. Legspinner Karan Sharma completely bamboozled the returning Paul Valthaty with his big turn to show runs may not prove easy.
Piyush Chawla, though, justified his promotion to the heights of No. 5 with a couple of sixes in a 15-ball 23, and lifted Kings XI to a solid 88 for 3 after 14 overs. On his departure, Kings XI looked to the experienced David Hussey to provide the acceleration, but he too holed out, skying a catch to sweeper cover.
Still, with Mahmood, Manpreet Gony fresh off an 18-ball 42, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Praveen Kumar there was enough firepower for some big-hitting in the final overs. Instead, Kings XI lost four wickets in four deliveries, as batsmen repeatedly kept finding the fielders in the deep, Gony went for a second run that wasn't there and Dale Steyn proved too pacy for Gurkeerat Singh. The wickets tumbled with such haste that No. 11 Praveen didn't even have all his equipment on when it was his turn to bat.
Faced with a small target of 124, most teams would have been strong favourites, but Sunrisers' batting is short on experience and quality. Quinton de Kock may find himself on the sidelines after his second failure, but two other youngsters, Hanuma Vihari and Akshath Reddy, calmly guided the chase early on. Vihari's 46 was the highest score of the match and earned him his second Man-of-the-Match award. His dismissal in the 12th over and that of an out-of-sorts Cameron White in the 16th ratcheted up the tension, before Perera's mighty hits showed why he is quickly becoming Sunrisers' most important player.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo