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Mustafizur magic gives Hyderabad third win

Wisden India logo Wisden India 23-04-2016

The way Mustafizur Rahman has operated in the Indian Premier League 2016 so far, his left-arm seam bowling can be easily compared with that of a puppeteer in complete control of his strings at a puppet show. The batsmen know that Rahman will mix up his cutters with fast deliveries and will invariably be full in length. On Saturday (April 23), Mustafizur bowled just one short ball and 17 dots to return figures of 4-1-9-2 – the most economical spell in this edition – to set up Sunrisers Hyderabad’s five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.

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Mustafizur’s dot-ball percentage was impressive enough; but that the batsmen failed to connect eight of those deliveries made him look even more special. His spectacular show, and twin strikes by Moises Henriques to remove David Miller and Glenn Maxwell in the tenth over, kept Punjab to 143 for 6 after David Warner won the toss for the third time in a row.

Hyderabad’s chase got a big boost when Warner hit Sandeep Sharma, Kyle Abbott and Maxwell for three sixes and four fours inside the Power Play. Warner’s 59 – his fourth half-century in five matches – and his 90-run opening stand with Shikhar Dhawan in 9.4 overs put paid to any hopes Punjab would have had of defending their total successfully.

Miller caught Warner and ran out Aditya Tare, playing his first match for the Sunrisers, off consecutive deliveries, but Dhawan’s 45 took Hyderabad to the brink of their third successive win. With five runs needed, Manan Vohra took a super catch at short midwicket to send Eoin Morgan back, and Miller’s sharp underarm throw, also from midwicket, off the next ball ran Deepak Hooda out. But Henriques hit the winning boundary with 13 balls to spare, taking Hyderabad to the third position on the points table.

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Hyderabad were more switched on of the two sides, and it was evident in the first ball of the third over when M Vijay, expecting an inswinger, was outsmarted by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s outswinger to be caught behind. Hooda conceded just two runs with his first over of offspin and Mustafizur capped off the Power Play phase with a maiden over, as Punjab were left behind very early in the race.

Mustafizur’s first over, a maiden, was a classic case of staying a step ahead of the batsman. Edgy after four dot balls, Vohra, who had hit a glorious six over the cover fence off Barinder Sran, tapped one and ran for a non-existent single. Sent back by Shaun Marsh, Vohra failed to ground his bat before Dhawan’s direct hit from cover broke the stumps.

With Marsh setting himself to play the anchor role, Miller and Maxwell had to support him, but the duo fell in the same over for the third time in five matches this season. Miller was done in by a bit of extra bounce from Henriques to give Naman Ojha his second catch behind the stumps, and a diving Mustafizur caught Maxwell’s flick-pull off a short delivery at fine-leg.

Mustafizur returned for his second spell in the 14th over, and trapped Marsh in front of the wicket with an off-cutter for 40. Even though Nikhil Naik, who replaced the out of form Wriddhiman Saha, and Axar Patel, who hit three straight sixes during his unbeaten 36, put on 50 runs in 5.5 overs, Punjab had lost more ground than they would have wanted in the first half of the innings, thanks to Mustafizur.

Eventually it was more than enough to secure victory for Hyderabad.

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