Parthiv Patel made 47 off 37 balls and shared 89 runs for the opening wicket with Shikhar Dhawan. (BCCI)
Hyderabad: They stuttered a little at the end, but Sunrisers Hyderabad eventually defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets, thus ensuring them a play-off berth and knocking Royal Challengers Bangalore out of IPL 6.
Chasing 131 could have been tricky on a slow Uppal wicket but Parthiv Patel (47) and Shikhar Dhawan (42) didn't give KKR much chance. The two left-handers kept up with the required rate. Parthiv was the more aggressive of the two initially, hitting Pradeep Sangwan for back-to-back boundaries in the second over.
Gauging the nature of the pitch, Gautam Gambhir started with Yusuf Pathan, whose blitzkrieg (49* off 29) helped his side reaching 130 in their innings. The offspinner seemed to have doing his job, giving away seven runs in his first two overs. But when the offspinner came on to bowl his third over, first Patel hit him for two boundaries and then Dhawan ended it with a six over deep midwicket, taking 15 runs from the over.
It's difficult that Jacques Kallis would have ever seen a batsman jumping out of his crease and hitting him for a six over point in his 17-year-long international career. But Dhawan did just that and that too with great precision. The left-hander drove the next one for four through covers as Hyderabad raced towards their target.
But when everything seemed to be under control, Dhawan played an unnecessary reverse sweep, getting out leg before to Iqbal Abdulla. Patel kept on batting until he too was adjudged lbw off Abdulla. Cameron White (2) attempted a non-existent single that ended in his run out. With Hanuma Vihari (6) and Thisara Perera (4) departing in quick succession, the hosts seemed to have lost the plot. But Darren Sammy (17*) kept calm and ended the game with two sixes off Abdulla, who had a good game (3 for 29) until those two deliveries.
Gambhir (10) and Manvinder Bisla (15) adopted the same policy as other teams have been following against Dale Steyn - playing out the speedster in the initial phase. They were reluctant to go after the South African and that affected their scoring rate. As Gambhir looked out of touch, it left Bisla to do all the scoring. He stroked a couple of boundaries, but fell while trying to clear Perera, hitting a skier to White.
Anand Rajan, who replaced Ishant Sharma, bowled with a disciplined line, not giving anything loose to the KKR batsmen. Runs were hard to come by and the batsmen started to look for quick singles. But it also led to the confusion, which ended in the run out of Gambhir.
As expected, the pitch assisted the spinners - Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma - as soon as they came on to bowl. Eoin Morgan, who came to the crease and played a reverse sweep for four to Sharma, was lucky to survive a close leg before shout against the legspinner but was given out when the ball hit his pads for the second time in two overs.
Hyderabad bowlers strangled the KKR batsmen in the middle overs, bowling lots of dot balls. Kallis, despite trying hard, couldn't give the side the required momentum. He struggled against both pace and spin and that had also put a lot of pressure on his partner Pathan.
Steyn came for his one-over second spell and got Kallis off the first ball for 24, getting him caught at the fine-leg fence. Mishra started his second and last spell with a googly that got the wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate (1).
When the wickets were falling thick and fast, Pathan did well to keep his composure. He kept the scoreboard moving and also hit big shots at the latter stage of the innings. After hitting two maximums against Perera and Steyn, he ended the KKR innings by a monstrous six off Rajan.