David Warner signed off his Indian Premier League campaign in style, notching up his eight fifty of the season to help Sunrisers Hyderabad take a step closer towards qualifying for the play-offs. The hosts recorded a comfortable 45-run win over Kings XI Punjab in Hyderabad on Monday.
Playing his last match of season before heading home for World Cup preparations, Warner struck a belligerent 81 off 56 balls with seven fours and two sixes to complete his IPL 2019 campaign with 692 runs, quite comfortably the most by any batsman so far.
Chasing the imposing total, KL Rahul (79 off 56, 4x4s, 5x6s) made a valiant effort with the bat but lacked support from the other end as Kings XI were restricted to 167 for eight.
By virtue of this win, Sunrisers have consolidated their fourth position in the table with 12 points from 12 games, while Kings XI are at 10 points from as many matches. Both the teams have two more matches to go with Kings XI still in the hunt, finishing their season at home. SRH, however, will not be returning to Hyderabad unless they reach the final.
Chasing a mammoth total, Kings XI needed a brisk start but they didn’t get one, losing explosive Chris Gayle early.
Gayle departed in the first ball of the third over, brilliantly caught by Manish Pandey off Khaleel Ahmed (3/40) with Kings XI scoreboard reading 11. Thereafter, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal (27 off 18) added 60 off 39 balls to take Kings XI forward.
But just when the partnership was looking threatening, Agarwal holed out to Vijay Shankar off Rashid Khan (3/21) in the ninth over. Nicholas Pooran (21 off 10) played a breezy cameo before Bhuvneshwar Kumar took a beautiful catch at long-leg boundary off Ahmed.
Rashid then came to the party and picked up two wickets – David Miller (11 off 11) and skipper Ravichandran Ashwin – in consecutive balls in the 13th over to stand in chance of registering a hat-trick which did not materialise.
From there on, the asking was tall for Rahul and debutant Prabhsimran Singh (16) and the former finally perished in the 19th over after a gritty knock to shut the doors for Kings XI.
Earlier, Warner and Wriddhiman Saha (28 off 13) got Sunrisers off to a brisk start after being sent into bat. The duo took the Kings XI bowlers to the cleaners to pile up 77 runs of the first six overs — the most scored in a powerplay this season.
Warner made his intentions clear from the onset, hitting young Arshdeep Singh for two boundaries in the opening over and then followed it up with a six over long-off in Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s next over.
Mujeeb was in for some treatment as Warner hit two more boundaries in the spinner’s next over and then Saha also found the fence to bring up Sunrisers’ fifty in the fourth over.
Saha then went after Mohammed Shami (2/36) and hit the pacer for a boundary and six off consecutive balls. His innings came to an end when he under-edged a Murugan Ashwin delivery to debutant Prabhsimran behind the stumps. Saha shared 78 runs off 6.2 overs with Warner for the opening stand.
Warner continued in the same vein and notched up his eight fifty of the season with a boundary off Shami in the 12th over. It was also his eighth consecutive half century against Kings XI Punjab.
Then, in-form Manish Pandey (36 off 25) too played a quick knock in Warner’s company.
Pandey, who struck three fours and a six, added 82 off 55 balls along with Warner before Kings XI skipper R Ashwin (2/20) struck twin blows in the 16th over to remove both the set batsmen. First Ashwin accounted for Pandey and then two balls later dismissed Warner, caught by Mujeeb at point of what was a tired-looking shot.
Then skipper Kane Williamson (14 off 7) and Mohammad Nabi (20 off 10) also played short cameos towards the end. Despite losing late wickets, Warner’s early onslaught was more than enough on the night for Hyderabad. It was only fitting that he walked back to the pavilion to a standing ovation from the adoring Hyderabad crowd.
“It’s obviously great to get out there and do your job properly. We’ve got a great deck to bat on. The groundstaff have worked tirelessly to prepare good wickets and then it’s about going back to basics and backing your instincts,” Warner said while receiving the player of the match award.
(With PTI inputs)