Sunrisers Hyderabad 201 for 6 (Bairstow 97, Warner 52, Bishnoi 3-29) beat Kings XI Punjab 132 (Pooran 77, Rashid 3-12, Natarajan 2-24) by 69 runs
Support acts. They're not talked about often in an IPL game. But that was the difference between the two teams in Dubai. Jonny Bairstow walloped 97 off 55 balls, with his opening partner David Warner chipping in with 52 off 40 himself, to lift the Sunrisers Hyderabad to 201 for 6.
The Kings XI Punjab had Nicholas Pooran in breathtaking form, but his 77 off 36 was an aberration on the scorecard… because their next highest score was 11. Sunrisers' bowling was just too good for them.
The domino effect
The Kings XI had a good plan. Load up on powerplay specialists to attack a top-heavy opposition. If only their execution was as good. There were five wides in the first over. Full tosses caressed for four in the second. Worst of all, they gave Warner room early in his innings. The Sunrisers captain hit five boundaries from his first 14 balls and cruised to his 50th IPL fifty. He brings up one of those every 2.64 (!) innings.
Power. Bairstow has so much of it that it sometimes doesn't matter what you bowl. The Kings XI tried to use Sheldon Cottrell's left-arm angle to snag the outside edge, but all that did was offer room to be whacked over the off side. Mujeeb Ur Rahman's mystery spin didn't work because the batsman played him like a medium-pacer, sitting back in his crease and cross-batting him away. Ravi Bishnoi was hit for 6, 4, 6 in his first over.
Bairstow went to fifty shortly after that, celebrated it by thumping Maxwell for 4, 6, 6 and showed no sign of stopping. Perhaps the best illustration of his form tonight is that he went from 29 to 81 in the time Warner went from 29 to 50. Sure, he had more of the strike but that too was a recognition of his quality. It takes a lot to make Warner play second fiddle.
The redemption of Kings XI
Before taking their first wicket in this game, Kings XI had gone 219 balls without one. In that time, they'd also carefully gift-wrapped 408 runs to the opposition. Most worryingly, their death bowling has been awful this season, giving up 15 runs an over in the last four.
But as soon as Warner fell everything changed. It felt like there was too little time for even a team like Sunrisers with such a brittle middle order to mess up, but they lost five wickets in four overs to two uncapped Indians - legspinner Bishnoi (3-29) and left-arm yorker specialist Arshdeep Singh (2-33). After being 160 for 0, in the 16th over, Sunrisers finished 201 for 6, with only five boundaries in the last 38 balls.
King of Kings
When Pooran sent the 17th ball he faced into the second tier in Dubai, he brought up the fastest fifty of this season's IPL. And the coolest thing about that is, he had told everyone it was coming.
Pooran got to his landmark as he hit legspin-bowling allrounder Abdul Samad for 6, 4, 6, 6, 6, 0. At the time, he had a strike-rate of nearly 300. The rest of his team, meanwhile, managed 33 runs off 35 balls at a strike-rate of 94.
How long can one man resist a whole team though, especially one working double-time to win? Priyam Garg had one stump to aim at to run Glenn Maxwell out and he nailed it. Rashid Khan was stringing together overs that cost no more than three each. Plus, his googly may well be cricket's version of a hieroglyph. Very very few are capable of reading it. It earned him a double-wicket maiden in the 15th over.
Kings XI slipped from 91 for 3 in the ninth over to 126 for 6 in the 14th. There was no recovering from that.