Sunrisers Hyderabad took time to identify its strengths in the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League. The flaws were rectified at the right time and riding on the momentum, the orange army beat Mumbai Indians by 10 wickets in Sharjah on Tuesday to enter the playoffs.
Both Sunrisers and Kolkata Knight Riders secured 14 points but the former qualified on the better net run rate (+0.608). KKR (-0.214) finished fifth, while Royal Challengers Bangalore (-0.172) ended fourth after the completion of the league stage.
David Warner (85 not out, 58b, 10×4, 1×6) knew the ingredients required to cook the final meal in the do-or-die league game. Aware of the dew factor that troubled the Mumbai bowlers, he elected to field. Sunrisers restricted Mumbai to 149/8 and chased down the target with 17 balls to spare.
The captain led from the front by guiding Wriddhiman Saha (58 not out, 45b, 7×4, 1×6) and ensuring there are no dots. Even after two boundaries in an over, they ran a single off the third to maintain the rhythm.
Saha, who has been in red-hot form since the 45-ball 87 against Delhi Capitals, swung his bat at everything that came his way. Initially, he mistimed a couple of shots but eventually, he started shuffling across the crease and started attempting the wristy lofts to find boundaries. The duo ruled the roost in the powerplay scoring 56 runs.
They scored the remaining 95 runs off 11.1 overs. Warner and Saha tore apart Krunal Pandya (0/37 in 3.1) and did not refrain from playing their shots against Rahul Chahar (0/36) on a wicket that earlier assisted the likes of Shahbaz Nadeem (2/19) and Rashid Khan (1/32).
The spin show
Electing to field, the electric orange army — after victories over Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore — held Mumbai by its throat in the middle overs when Suryakumar Yadav (36, 29b, 5×4) threatened to run away with the game.
Making a return to the XI after nursing a hamstring injury, skipper Rohit Sharma (4, 7b) did not fire tonight. He misread the pace and bounce of the knuckleball delivery and found Warner at mid-off. Quinton de Kock (25, 13b, 2×4, 2×6) sent Sandeep Sharma (3/34) on a leather hunt before the pacer struck a full toss outside off for the left-hander to drag it onto his stumps.
Left-arm spinner Nadeem and leg-spinner Rashid Khan applied the brakes, with a little help from Saha and Kane Williamson.
Suryakumar and Ishan Kishan (33, 30b, 1×4, 2×6) added 42 for the third wicket. They tried to unsettle Rashid by attacking him. The magic ended soon as Saha stumped Suryakumar when he attempted a drive off a Nadeem delivery pitched outside off. Then, Williamson sprinted in the short mid-wicket region to complete a catch to dismiss Krunal Pandya for a duck. In the next over, Saurabh Tiwary (1, 3b) misread the Rashid wrong ‘un and feebly nicked it to Saha behind the stumps.
Kishan kept the scoreboard ticking with Kieron Pollard who contributed in the rescue act towards the back end. The West Indian hammered a 25-ball 41, laced with four sixes and two fours, to lift Mumbai to a competitive total.
Jason Holder (2/25) dictated terms at the death and also claimed his 100th T20 wicket.