Warner keeps Sunrisers in the race
Sunrisers Hyderabad needed to win this game in Ranchi to avoid elimination and David Warner's punishing innings secured the two points that took his team to fifth place
Sunrisers Hyderabad 189 for 4 (Warner 90, Dhawan 64*) beat Chennai Super Kings 185 for 3 (Dhoni 57*, Hussey 50*, Smith 47) by six wicketsScorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sunrisers Hyderabad needed to win this game in Ranchi to avoid elimination and David Warner's punishing innings secured the two points that took his team to fifth place in the league. Chennai Super Kings' third successive defeat weakened their hold on second place, and narrowed the gap between them and the other contenders, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals.
While Super Kings relied on three batsmen to achieve a formidable total, Sunrisers needed only one to gun it down. By the time Warner was done, the game was all but won, and Shikhar Dhawan saw Sunrisers through to the finish with an unbeaten half-century that was the ideal foil to his aggressive opening partner.
Everything seemed to fall in place for Sunrisers at the start of the chase. Warner, who had scored 59 in his previous innings, began in high gear and received generous helpings of loose deliveries from Mohit Sharma and R Ashwin. He got the lion's share of the strike too, with Dhawan playing only 11 balls in the Powerplay, and powered Sunrisers to 64 in six overs.
With the pitch offering no movement for the seamers, Mohit gave Warner several opportunities to free his arms and paid the price by watching the ball disappear between point and cover. Unlike the previous game
in Ranchi, there was no turn tonight, and Warner was able to hit Ashwin down the ground without risk. The serious acceleration came in the sixth over, from John Hastings on season debut, when Warner collected five boundaries in the Vs behind and in front of the wicket to pass fifty off 25 deliveries.
The other Super Kings spinners - Ravindra Jadeja and Pawan Negi - were also punished by Warner and by the time he dragged Hastings on for 90 off 45 balls, Sunrisers needed only 70 off 52 balls.
Having contributed only 22 to the opening stand of 116, Dhawan now took over, finding the leg-side boundary with regularity against the spinners to get to 50 off 40 balls. Though Sunrisers lost three wickets in 13 balls towards the end, the asking rate was entirely under control, and Dhawan ensured the job was done.
Given how rough the game was on the bowlers, the period between the seventh and 14th overs in the Super Kings innings was an understated yet defining period of play. Dwayne Smith had set off at cracking speed and Super Kings had scored 60 in the Powerplay, but the next eight overs yielded only 40 runs for two wickets, as MS Dhoni and David Hussey bided their time. Hussey was on 15 off 19 balls and Dhoni on 11 from 19 when they decided to accelerate, but perhaps they could have done more with the time they took to consolidate a powerful start.
Once they flicked the switch, though, Hussey and Dhoni were unstoppable. They targeted the gentle seam of Irfan Pathan and Darren Sammy, and the speed of Dale Steyn, alike. Five of the last six overs went for ten or more, and Dhoni saved his best for the end. He was striking at less than a run a ball at the start of the 20th over, but deposited Steyn's first ball over the midwicket boundary. Another six and a brace of fours followed as Dhoni took 24 off the final over - no batsman has scored more in a Steyn over in Twenty20 cricket.
However, while Super Kings may have left their surge too late on a placid surface, Warner wasted no time at all and won the game.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo