Yuvraj Singh and Ben Cutting unleashed some brutal end-overs hitting to nail a chase of 180 in Mohali and all but seal Sunrisers Hyderabad’s berth in the playoffs of IPL 2016. For their part, Kings XI Punjab became the second team after Rising Pune Supergiants to crash out of the tournament, despite a 56-ball 96 by Hashim Amla.
Yuvraj showcased his clean striking, with three fours and three massive sixes, in an unbeaten 42 off 24, while Ben Cutting – playing his first game for Sunrisers – chipped in with crucial monster hits of his own. Both batsmen ruthlessly tore into seamer Mohit Sharma in the 18th over, plundering 19 runs to bring the equation down to 20 required off the last two overs. Kings XI were clinging on as Sandeep Sharma conceded only three off the first three balls of the 19th, but Cutting slammed the fourth over the straight boundary to puncture the tension in the Sunrisers dugout. The chase was completed with seven wickets in hand and two balls to spare.
The early stages of the chase were anchored by David Warner’s sixth fifty of the season. Warner and Shikhar Dhawan put on a 68-run opening stand, and after Dhawan was run out, Warner and Deepak Hooda looked set to take control of the innings. Just as they seemed to have settled in, however, Warner got out softly against the run of play. Looking to tuck the ball onto the leg side, he stepped deep into his crease and trod onto his stumps.
Warner’s dismissal Sunrisers’ third hit-wicket in four matches – left the game open again. They still required 83 off 47 balls a stern test for a shaky middle order but Yuvraj and Hooda hit Axar Patel for a four and a six later in the same over. The next three overs yielded roughly ten runs apiece, courtesy Hooda’s lusty hacks and Yuvraj’s well-timed blows.
Hooda’s dismissal off the last ball of the 16th was followed by Axar’s stingy 17th over, which left Sunrisers with 39 to get off the last three overs. But Yuvraj and Cutting laid into Mohit Sharma and never looked back.
After Kings XI had opted to bat on a hot Mohali afternoon, Amla set a brisk pace by square-cutting the second ball for four. That shot seemed to bring back the classy, free-flowing Amla, who can unpick the best of attacks with timing and calculated belligerence. An assortment of cuts and drives was accompanied by some rather adventurous scoops.
Amla was helped by the fact that Sunrisers’ new-ball bowlers were not at their best. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was tidy but not threatening, while Ashish Nehra offered too many boundary balls in his first two overs. Despite the early loss of M Vijay – who spooned a well-disguised slower ball from Mustafizur Rahman to mid-off – the Kings XI innings soon gathered momentum.
Amla stroked 14 fours and two sixes en route to his 96, receiving support from Wriddhiman Saha, Gurkeerat Singh and David Miller, in increasing order of explosiveness. Miller’s unbeaten nine-ball 20 towards the end of the innings was a timely boost to Kings XI, as Amla was beginning to run out of steam.
In an increasingly desperate attempt to stem the run flow, Sunrisers used seven bowlers, none of whom proved particularly effective. They even lost Nehra to a leg injury in his third over. However, it was their batsmen who ultimately took them to their eighth win of the season and within sniffing distance of a berth in the playoffs.