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Bhuvneshwar tops Vohra in tense finish

Wisden India logo Wisden India 17-04-2017

A gritty unbeaten 70 off 54 balls from David Warner might have set up Sunrisers Hyderabad’s five-run win in the Indian Premier League 2017 match against Kings XI Punjab in Hyderabad on Monday (April 17), but it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 5 for 19 that stole the show in the end. It was a bowling effort that just about eclipsed Manan Vohra’s scintillating 95 off 50 balls, the pacer trapping the Punjab opener lbw in the penultimate over of the chase before he could pull a rabbit out of the hat for his side.

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Punjab opted to bowl first, assuming that chasing would be easier under lights, but the 159 for 6 that Hyderabad eventually ended up with was a challenge.

Just how big a challenge it was, was made clear when Bhuvneshwar trapped Hashim Amla plumb in front off the first ball of the second innings. Glenn Maxwell came earlier than usual to the crease, at No. 3, but he only mustered one boundary before he was sent on his way by Bhuvneshwar, lobbing one straight down the throat of Warner at long-off.

From 17 for 2, Vohra took charge, but wickets clattered at the other end. First it was the Aghanistan duo of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan that got the crowd on its feet. Nabi was greeted with a six from Eoin Morgan on his first IPL delivery, but got his revenge when he got one to keep low to take out middle stump. Rashid complemented the effort in the next over, removing both David Miller and Wriddhiman Saha to leave Punjab at 62 for 5.

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It seemed that Punjab’s goose was truly cooked, but Vohra had other plans. Given not out off Nabi’s bowling when it appeared he was trapped in front for 32 – umpire Anil Dandekar indicated there was an inside edge but there wasn’t any – Vohra decided to make the most of his luck.

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What followed was a one-man show. It was as if Vohra was batting on another pitch altogether as he found boundaries with ridiculous ease. The 15th over, bowled by Barinder Sran, went for 20 runs with Vohra tonking 12 of them, but he was even more merciless in the 16th over, bowled by Rashid, slamming 20 of the 21 runs that came off the six balls.

Bhuvneshwar could have had him for 83 but Shikhar Dhawan lost his balance after grasping the ball and let it tumble. Vohra managed to hit one more six to take his tally to five to go along with his nine boundaries, before Bhuvneshwar had the last laugh.

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It left Punjab nine down with 15 to get from nine balls – not impossible in Twenty20 cricket – but, despite a front-foot no-ball and two wides, Hyderabad held their nerve with Siddarth Kaul yorking Ishant Sharma to bowl Punjab out for 154 in 19.4 overs.

Earlier, Hyderabad managed only 27 runs for one wicket in the Power Play. At that stage, Warner was batting on a scarcely believable six off 16 balls, but rather than let frustration get the better of him on a pitch that wasn’t aiding strokeplay, he dug his heels in and carried his bat through the innings.

Mohit Sharma produced the first breakthrough, the bouncer doing Dhawan in for a run-a-ball 15. Axar Patel, introduced in the tenth over, then removed Moises Henriques and Yuvraj Singh off consecutive deliveries to tighten the screws and leave Hyderabad at 50 for 3. Henriques shimmied down the track and was stumped by Wriddhiman Saha while Yuvraj feathered an edge behind.

It could have been 54 for 4 had Mohit not slipped, which prevented him from holding on to a catch at deep square-leg when Naman Ojha top-edged a sweep against KC Cariappa. Ojha was only on two then.

From there, Ojha and Warner wrested control of the game from Punjab with a 60-run partnership that came off just 6.1 overs. Ojha (34 in 20 balls) ran the twos and threes hard and found the occasional boundary as well to take the pressure off Warner, who Hyderabad rely too heavily upon at times to do the bulk of the scoring.

Warner, going at slightly more than a run-a-ball now, looked to accelerate but didn’t get as much strike as he would have liked in the last five overs. His body language spoke volumes – he was slapping is bat on his thigh, adjusting and re-adjusting his gloves and generally fidgeting about. But if a catch near the long-off boundary becoming a six and Rashid hitting the last ball for a maximum didn’t put the smile back on Warner’s face, the two points earned from a nail-biting win at the end of the night certainly did.

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