Returning to the ‘home’ stage, Yuvraj Singh performed the role expected of him. The left-hander rescued Sunrisers Hyderabad with a timely blitz against Kings XI Punjab to ensure the team’s entry into the play-offs of the Indian Premier League here.
The much-needed eighth victory raised Sunrisers’ tally to 16 points.
The result, of what was the 12th match for both teams, kept Kings’ tally to 10 points and dumped it out of the race for the next stage.
Chasing 180, Sunrisers made it with seven wickets and two delivers to spare.
After Man-of-the-Match Hashim Amla’s 96 justified skipper M. Vijay’s decision to bat, the Sunrisers batsmen made amends for some ordinary display by the bowlers.
Warner is top-scorer
Skipper David Warner top-scored with 52 as all the five batsmen on view contributed their bit.
Yuvraj’s 24-ball 42, including three sixes and as many boundaries, came in testing times. Resolute to prove a point against his former team he once captained, Yuvraj was in his element.
But it was left to Ben Cutting, who slammed two sixes and a four, to hit the winning run.
After Vijay used different bowlers, including himself, in the first seven overs, Warner scored his sixth half-century of the season, and Shikhar Dhawan laid a firm foundation.
Once the duo was back in the dugout — Dhawan was run out and Warner was hit wicket — with Sunrisers still needing 83 runs, the team’s middle-order rose to the occasion.
Interestingly, Warner became the third SRH batsmen, after Yuvraj and Deepak Hooda, to be out hit-wicket this season.
By sheer coincidence, the Yuvraj-Hooda pair carried on the battle with some timely big hits during their 23-ball 42-run stand.
With 50 needed off 30 deliveries, it was anybody’s match. Off Sandeep Sharma, Yuvraj hoisted a six to maintain the run-rate but Hooda holed out to the last ball.
In the 17th over, Axar Patel gave away just two runs to brighten Kings’ prospects. But SRH hit right back by taking 19 off Mohit Sharma after Yuvraj and Cutting hit a six each.
Now 20 runs were needed off two overs.
Sandeep’s next over leaked 11 runs, including a six to Cutting and left SRH needing nine runs off the final over.
Yuvraj smashed a 100-metre six to tilt the scales in his team’s favour.
Amla misses century
Earlier, Amla made his presence felt in the competition with a quality knock.
Though the mild-mannered South African missed a well-deserved maiden century by just four runs, 14 boundaries and two sixes underscored his importance in the squad.
He played some classical strokes on both sides of the wicket, improvised almost at will to find the ropes and used his feet to pace and spin alike to keep every bowler at bay.
Sixteen big hits, during his stay of 19.4 overs, reflected Amla’s domination of the famed SRH bowling.
He was most severe on Ashish Nehra who limped off after bowling 2.5 overs.
Looking to reach his century in the last over, Amla’s bid for a boundary ended in the waiting hands of Warner at long-off.
The innings witnessed 11 overs that leaked runs in double-digits, with the last five producing 58 runs!
In the end, even this effort proved futile.