Sunrisers Hyderabad 212 for 6 (Warner 81, Pandey 36) beat Kings XI Punjab 167 for 8 (Rahul 79, Rashid 3-21, Khaleel 3-40) by 45 runs
There might have been very little to separate Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad going into tonight's game - what with both possessing identical win-loss records - but there was plenty to set the two apart once the final ball was bowled. In a game that Sunrisers took command of from the moment the irrepressible David Warner faced the first delivery, Kings XI found themselves on the back foot, trying to put out fires much of the time. In the end, Kings XI themselves crashed and burned, falling short of Sunrisers' 212 by a comfortable 45 runs.
Warner, their bête noire, scored a sizzling 56-ball 81, his eighth successive half-century against Kings XI in what is his last game at the IPL this year. The Powerplay yielded 77, and the rest of the top five all chipped in with at least double figures. Despite Ashwins R and M managing to keep their figures respectable, the carnage overall was enough to take Kane Williamson's men over 200.
The chase was an ungainly assortment of cameos and hoicks, of stops and starts, and the absence of a plan concerning how the innings would be paced was apparent. From the moment Chris Gayle skied Khaleel Ahmed off his third delivery, Kings XI never quite looked like they had the firepower for the chase. KL Rahul's 79 ensured the game wouldn't become a complete embarrassment, but lack of support from the other end meant Kings XI would never mount a serious challenge to prevent their third defeat on the trot.
There is so much about David Warner to distract your attention, but when discussion turns to the cricket, there is little doubt we are talking about a T20 great. His IPL record - especially since he joined Sunrisers in 2014 - has been imperious; he has crossed 500 runs each season, and averages an ethereal 210 against spin this year. Kings XI are his whipping boys, with today's 81 his eighth successive half-century against this opposition.
From the moment he flicked Arshdeep Singh for successive boundaries in the first over, he looked ominous, but it was poor Mujeeb ur Rahman who found himself at the receiving end of the worst of Warner's wrath. Even R Ashwin, who he ended up losing his wicket to, was greeted with a six off the first delivery. By the time he was dismissed, off the last ball of the 16th over, the visibly tiring Warner had begun to lose steam, but with the side going at over ten, the platform for a post-200 score had been firmly set.
That some bowlers will concede big runs is a fact of T20 cricket. In what is a heavily batsman-oriented format, a bowler's bad day doesn't necessarily foretell defeat. But Mujeeb, who was brought into the side today, ended the game with the unwanted record of owning the most expensive figures for an overseas player in IPL history.
Only Basil Thampi has ever conceded more than Mujeeb's 66, and despite Warner's belligerence, it was ironically after he had been dismissed that Mujeeb's figures frayed into record-setting territory. Having leaked, in hindsight, a somewhat economical 40 off his first three overs, he saw Williamson and fellow countryman Mohammad Nabi deposit his final over for 26. It was a killer blow for Kings XI, who, that over aside, bowled well at the death.
To make matters worse, Mujeeb came out to bat in the dying overs, and was bowled off his third ball without scoring.
Afghans making waves
When the IPL began 11 years ago, it would have been hard to predict that a game in 2019 would see three players from Afghanistan make - for better or worse - telling contributions to swing a result. With Nabi's cameo and Mujeeb's off-colour performance dominating the agenda for the first innings, Rashid Khan swooped in to ensure it wouldn't be a bad day all round for Afghan spin.
After a tight first over, he removed the dangerous Mayank Agarwal in his second before the third over arguably struck the final nail in the visitors' coffin. David Miller sent one straight down deep midwicket's throat, and R Ashwin picked out long-off first ball, deceived by the googly. He finished with figures of 3 for 21, setting up a win that does as much for his side's net run rate as it does for the points table.