Sunrisers hold nerve to make playoffs
Sunrisers Hyderabad 132 for 5 (Parthiv 47, Dhawan 42, Abdulla 3-29) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 130 for 7 (Yusuf 49*, Steyn 2-24) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sunrisers Hyderabad threatened to blaze into the playoffs. They then opened the back door for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Then Darren Sammy danced down the track and lofted Iqbal Abdulla for successive sixes to send the Uppal Stadium into a frenzy. Sunrisers had taken the final playoff spot in their debut IPL season, after almost blowing it towards the end.
Having watched their bowlers tie Rajasthan Royals in knots during a similar chase two nights ago, Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan came out determined to be positive. They continued in the same manner for 89 runs in just over 11 overs, and had it not been for a rather needless reverse-sweep attempted by Dhawan, Sunrisers, Royal Challengers and their respective fans would have been spared several tense minutes.
It was Parthiv who all but sealed the chase at the start. He came out in a volley of cuts, pulls and flicks when offered the slightest width. By the time Dhawan slog-swept Yusuf Pathan for his first boundary, Parthiv was already on 31 off 20. Dhawan now started to toy with the bowling, walking out to hit through extra cover and jumping to slash Jacques Kallis for six over cover.
This was the same slow pitch on which Kolkata Knight Riders had limped to 130. Even after Dhawan went leg-before to Abdulla, Sunrisers needed 31 off 40 at one stage. Then Parthiv walked out to Abdulla and was given leg-before.
Hanuma Vihari, as he has done often in the season, sucked momentum out of the innings. And then heaved a top-edge to backward point after making 6 off 13. In between, he was involved in a terrible mix-up that led to the run-out of Cameron White. Shami Ahmed disturbed Thisara Perera's bails with a yorker, and Sunrisers suddenly needed 19 of 13.
Fortunately, Biplab Samantray got one on the pads to put it away for four. Sammy, who had been made to look absolutely clueless by Sunil Narine during the 17th over which was a maiden, found enough courage to step out to Abdulla and finish the game with a couple of sixes.
Only Yusuf has been able to hit sixes when Knight Riders batted after winning the toss. Gautam Gambhir had run himself out again, and none of the other batsmen had been able to get the measure of a slow pitch and an attack that had thrived on it through the season.
Dale Steyn and Anand Rajan, who replaced the ill Ishant Sharma, hardly provided any width, and the legspinners Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma tied Knight Riders down further. They tossed it up, they bowled flat and quick, they turned legbreaks, they turned their googlies. And Knight Riders plodded on, finding no rhythm at all.
Yusuf has not done much during three seasons at Knight Riders, but he appeared to find some touch towards the end of this season. He looked determined from the outset and even recovered from a 147 kph Steyn bouncer to pull him for six next ball. He was not able to get too much strike at the death, and though he hit the last ball of the innings for six, 130 did not challenge Sunrisers. Until, that is, they themselves panicked when the playoffs beckoned, before Sammy held his nerve.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo