The moment he rocked back off two balls that were slightly short in the second over to send Anureet Singh packing over midwicket, one could sense David Warner would continue to be in an ominous touch. By the time he grafted back to the dugout in the 18th over after chipping Beuran Hendricks to Gurkeerat Singh at midwicket, Warner had registered plenty of firsts.
To begin with, a single off Hendricks in the 10th over helped him cross Ajinkya Rahane's tally of 461 to snatch the Orange Cap - one that doesn't have a patch of black like it is on the Sunriers' cap - from the Rajasthan Royals opener. Three overs hence, he drove Akshar Patel over covers for a six to become the first batsman to register six fifties in IPL 2015. The closest to him are Rahane and Lendl Simmons with four fifties each.
Just before he took the long way back, Warner had also become the first batsman to cross the 500-run mark this season. But the first that would give him immense satisfaction was the one he didn't know till the end of the match: he lead Sunrisers Hyderabad to three victories in succession for the very first time. The fact that the captain had played an instrumental role with the bat in two of those three wins would come as icing on the cake.
The little-known Sharma's day out
A change in team combination meant Sunrisers Hyderabad entered the game with just one Kumar as Praveen failed to make the cut. But it also meant that they took the field with three Sharmas, with Bipul joining the two Test bowlers - Ishant and Karn. But it was the lesser-known Bipul who earned more accolades than either of his fancied namesakes.
With Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra getting off the blocks in no time - even plundering Trent Boult for 15 runs in his first over, his most expensive until he was taken for 18 in his last - Warner threw the ball to left-arm spinner Bipul to slow things down. And the Punjab spinner who moved to Himachal Pradesh in the last domestic season did his job to precision.
The spinner who has an uncanny knack of slowing the ball down off his fingers despite a quick action got rid of both the openers in his first two overs to not only justify his selection but also to give Sunrisers the upper hand in the match.
As for the other Sharmas, Karn, who was introduced in the 12th over, conceded 20 runs in his two overs while Ishant was consistent in spraying the ball all over, especially in the death over, to bear the brunt of Killer Miller.
For most of the eighth edition of the IPL, Moises Henriques has emerged as a permanent fixture in the Sunrisers' line-up while the likes of Dale Steyn, Trent Boult, Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara have struggled to keep their places in the side. Though the Sunrisers' management's decision has raised a lot of eyebrows, Henriques has been busy justifying the faith shown in him.
If he flourished with the bat against Delhi Daredevils over the weekend, on Monday, he did it with the ball to peg Kings XI Punjab in the middle overs. Not only did he not concede a single boundary in his four overs, more importantly the medium-pacer hit the Kings XI middle order hard, accounting for Wriddhiman Saha, George Bailey and Gurkeerat Singh.
Henriques' exceptional spell reduced Kings XI to 99 for 6 in the 15th over and even before Miller cut loose, one could sense that Henriques' economical spell had virtually sealed the deal for the Sunrisers.
David overshadows David
If Kings XI Punjab had to break their six-match losing streak, they knew that their David had to overshadow his Sunrisers counterpart. For the whole of IPL 2015, the Kings XI fans had been awaiting a Miller special. The wait was finally over on Monday. Miller did overshadow Warner's brilliant innings but still couldn't help his team turn the tables in their favour.
At the end of the 17th over, Miller was batting on 44 off 30 balls, with Kings XI needing 57 runs to win. The next 14 balls the left-handed batsman faced fetched him 45 [6, 0, 6, 1, 1, 6, 2, 1, 6, 6, 0, 4, 0, 6]. Had it not been for his decision to farm strike in the last over, which resulted in two dots, Miller could well have scored a fifty in 14 balls.
He couldn't play spoilsport to the Sunrisers but Miller's blitzkrieg ensured that the hosts couldn't really improve on their net run rate. If the Sunrisers' charge is halted at the end of the league stage on the basis of NRR, they would know whom to blame. Not Ishant but Miller, who made a mockery of every Sunriers bowler he faced, barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar who contained Miller beautifully by consistently hitting the blockhole in the death overs.
Kings conundrum: Wicked wickets
All through their forgettable season, skipper George Bailey has blamed the inability of his batting troupe to fire as the major factor for his team's mediocre run. The same problem came back to haunt them again on Monday.
Despite getting off to a quickfire start, only their fourth double-digit opening stand of the season, Kings XI threw away the good work in the middle overs. In fact, from 42 for no loss, they lost five wickets for 39 runs in 7.5 overs to nullify the momentum that had been generated at the start of the chase.
Kings XI hold the unwanted of record of losing the most wickets in IPL 2015. Their tally of 90 wickets is higher by 20 than Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, both of whom have lost 70 wickets so far. In fact, with 7.50 dismissals per innings, Kings XI have the worst average of wickets. They are the only team to have not lost less than five wickets even once this year. It has hurt them big time this season. They will hope to rectify it to an extent in their last two games.