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Yuvraj all but secures Hyderabad qualification

Wisden India logo Wisden India 15-05-2016
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For most part of the Kings XI Punjab v Sunrisers Hyderabad match, Hashim Amla hogged the limelight with his maiden IPL half-century, but a late blitz from Yuvraj Singh spoiled Amla’s party and powered Hyderabad to a seven-wicket win at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Sunday (May 15).

After Punjab rode on Amla’s 96 off 56 balls to make 179 for 4, the bowlers and fielders backed up M Vijay’s moves, but Hyderabad were never out of the contest and Yuvraj’s stroke-filled unbeaten 42 off 24 balls powered them to 180 for 3 in 19.4 overs.

Amla hit 14 fours and two sixes, but the highlight of his knock – during which he brought up the highest individual score by a Punjab batsman this season – was the way he picked the length early and positioned himself to toy with one of the best bowling attacks of the IPL. His willingness to bat deep into the innings and set a big total instead of depending on Punjab’s fickle middle order was evident in the way he rotated the strike between shots to the fence.

Punjab opted to bat on a difficult pitch, and were powered by Amla’s innings throughout. Getting off the mark with a cut through point off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amla targeted Ashish Nehra, off whom he struck three fours through cover and point in the second over, and a straight six in the fourth over. With Amla on song, David Warner brought on Mustafizur Rahman, whose trademark off-cutter accounted for a struggling Vijay in the fifth over.

Amla and Wriddhiman Saha (27) associated for a 54-run second-wicket stand before the Punjab wicketkeeper failed to connect a slower ball from Moises Henriques in his second spell and was caught by Deepak Hooda at midwicket. Meanwhile, Amla notched up his maiden fifty off just 30 balls and brought up Punjab’s 100 with a lofted drive through point in the 13th over.

Amla and Gurkeerat Mann Singh (27) kept the charge on, and a leg injury to Nehra in the 14th over didn’t help Hyderabad’s cause. Amla attacked Henriques by clubbing a four past mid-off and slamming a huge six over long-on, and went into overdrive when he struck three boundaries off Rahman in the 17th over. He was lucky to survive twice in three balls when Vijay Shankar, the substitute fielder, failed to hold on to a couple of difficult chances at deep midwicket and deep cover.

Considering the ease with which Amla was batting, his dismissal off the fourth ball of the last over was rather unfortunate. Having timed most of his deliveries, Amla, looking to get to the milestone, holed out a length ball from Bhuvneshwar, Warner accepting a simple catch at long-off. An unbeaten 9-ball 20 from David Miller upped the tempo and lifted Punjab to the competitive total.

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Hyderabad’s opening pair of Warner and Shikhar Dhawan got the chase off to a steady start with a 68-run stand. Warner was the aggressive partner, constantly making room and smearing boundaries through the offside, and even depositing a Marcus Stoinis delivery into the stands in the fifth over. A couple of fours from Dhawan off Glenn Maxwell set the chase up early, but a direct hit by Mohit Sharma ended Dhawan’s innings on 27.

Warner brought up his sixth half-century off the season, but it was rather unfortunate that, in trying to get a single off Axar Patel, his back foot accidentally disturbed the stumps. Warner thus became the third Hyderabad batsman to be hit-wicket this season after Yuvraj (v Mumbai Indians) and Deepak Hooda (v Delhi Daredevils).

Punjab’s famed death bowling line-up failed to defend 41 runs off the last four overs as Yuvraj and Hooda kept the chase alive with some enterprising hits to the fence during their 42-run third-wicket stand off just 23 balls. But a mistimed pull off Sandeep Sharma ended Hooda’s innings at 34.

With 39 required off 18 balls, Yuvraj took on Mohit with a six over midwicket and a four through the point region. Ben Cutting, replacing Kane Williamson in the Hyderabad XI, soon joined the party, clobbering a huge six over midwicket. Quick running between the wickets and a couple sixes in the last two overs ensured Hyderabad’s reign at the top of the table continued. The defeat meant Punjab became the second team, after Rising Pune Supergiants, to play themselves out of contention for a playoff berth.

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