Sunrisers Hyderabad 121 for 1 (Bairstow 63*, Warner 37, Allen 1-22) beat Punjab Kings 120 (Shahrukh 22, Agarwal 22, Ahmed 3-21, Sharma 2-24) by nine wickets
Chasing for the fourth time in as many games, the Sunrisers Hyderabad finally opened their account in IPL 2021 as they beat the Punjab Kings by nine wickets in Chennai.
Set a target of 121, David Warner and Jonny Bairstow gave the Sunrisers a start of 73 in 10.1 overs. The Sunrisers had been in winning positions in their last two games as well before botching up. But this time, the calm presence of Kane Williamson ensured the Kings never got a sniff of victory as Bairstow, who remained unbeaten on 63 off 56, and he took their side home with eight balls to spare.
Earlier, the Kings opted to bat but were bundled out in 19.4 overs. Khaleel Ahmed was the most successful bowler for the Sunrisers, picking up 3 for 23, but it was the spin duo of Rashid Khan and Abhishek Sharma that hurt the Kings more, registering combined figures of 3 for 41 from eight overs.
With three losses on the trot, the Kings have replaced the Sunrisers at the bottom of the points table.
Rashid's sorcery leaves the Kings in trouble
The day didn't start well for Rashid. In the first over of the match, he dropped Mayank Agarwal at deep midwicket off Sharma. But soon he more than made up for that. After Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed KL Rahul cheaply and the Sunrisers restricted the Kings to 32 for 1 in the powerplay, Rashid was all over the opposition.
First, his low catch at short midwicket sent Agarwal on his way for a 25-ball 22. And when he came on to bowl, even Chris Gayle, the only batter in the Kings line-up to have a positive record against Rashid, had no clue which way the ball would turn. Gayle thrust his bat and pad forward to a legbreak, only to be trapped lbw.
In between those two wickets, Warner felled Nicholas Pooran with a direct hit, handing the batter his third duck in four innings. Pooran didn't even face a ball this time. After pushing the ball towards extra cover, Gayle called for a quick single but Pooran was late to react and was found well short.
Coming in at 47 for 4, Moises Henriques tried to sweep Rashid twice in the first two balls he faced. Both times Rashid pinged him on the thigh. Soon after, Rashid beat him with a googly but Bairstow, as clueless as the batter, missed the stumping.
Sharma too shows his tricks
Sharma was unlucky not to have Agarwal's wicket when the batter was on 0, but against one of the prolific opening pairs in the IPL, he conceded just three in the first over. He got the reward for his disciplined bowling when he dismissed Deepak Hooda with a backspinner in the 12th over. Having started well, Hooda tried to flick one away but failed to connect and was lbw for 13.
In his next over, Sharma deceived Henriques in the flight, beat him with the turn, and on this occasion Bairstow made no mistake with the stumping. It was only because of a couple of lusty blows from Shahrukh Khan that the Kings could cross 100.
Warner, Bairstow lead the chase
It wasn't a daunting target but Warner and Bairstow knew a good start was crucial, especially with the pitch slowing down considerably and offering help to spinners. The Kings brought on left-arm spinner Fabian Allen in the second over but Bairstow didn't let him settle down, bludgeoning him for a four and a six.
In the next over, Bairstow and Warner hit a four each of Mohammed Shami. Despite Warner trudging along at run a ball, the Sunrisers had 50 on the board by the end of the powerplay.
Warner holed out for 37, trying to dispatch a short ball from Allen, but Bairstow and Williamson ensured the Sunrisers knocked off the remaining 48 runs without losing another wicket. On the way, Bairstow brought up his second fifty in four innings, off 48 balls and his slowest in T20s till now.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo