Sunrisers Hyderabad thrived on the pressure of a must-win game to thrash table-toppers Mumbai Indians by 10 wickets and qualify for the IPL playoffs in Sharjah on Tuesday.
Skipper David Warner (81 not out off 57) and Wriddhiman Saha (58 not out off 44) lit up the last league game of the tournament with an unbeaten 151-run opening stand to chase down the 150-run target in 17.1 overs.
The bowlers had set up the game nicely for SRH by restricting MI to 149 for eight despite a timely 41 off 25 from veteran Kieron Pollard.
With their third straight win, SRH finished third in the points table with 14 points and a much better run-rate than Royal Challengers Bangalore, who finished fourth on the same number of points. Both teams play the Eliminator in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
The outcome also knocked Kolkata Knight Riders out of the competition with the Eoin Morgan-led side having an inferior run-rate with 14 points.
The fact that Mumbai rested star pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult for the game also made the task easier for SRH.
The sole good news for Mumbai was the return to action of their skipper Rohit Sharma after a two-week injury lay-off, declaring he was “fit and fine” after concerns over his fitness, that led to him being excluded from the India squad for the Australia tour.
In the run chase, it was a delight to watch Warner and Saha showcase their range of strokes. On way to a resounding win, Warner also crossed the 500-run mark for the sixth time in IPL history, showing his remarkable consistency in the tournament.
Saha, who is in the team in place of Jonny Bairstow, has repaid the faith the team has shown in him with consistent performances. He was once again in sublime touch on Tuesday, collecting seven fours and a straight six of Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Warner, at the other end, hit 10 fours and a six.
Earlier, MI would have ended up with a smaller total if it wasn’t for Pollard, who ensured his team put up a fighting total. The defending champions collected 51 runs off the last five overs.
Needing a victory to make the playoffs, Sunrisers bowlers made merry on a helping surface after their skipper Warner decided to put the opposition in to bat.
MI skipper Rohit (4), who missed the last four games due to a hamstring injury, made a surprise return in his team’’s last game ahead of the play-offs.
However, he lasted for only seven balls as pacer Sandeep Sharma (3/34) had him caught at mid-off with a well-disguised knuckleball.
Sandeep also found the stumps of Rohit’s opening partner Quinton de Kock (36 off 29) who played on after smashing the SRH pacer for couple of sixes and a boundary.
It was the turn of spinners Rashid Khan (1/32) and Shahbaz Nadeem (2/19) to provide wickets in the middle-overs.
Nadeem got rid of in-form Suryakumar Yadav (36) and Krunal Pandya (0) in the 12th over and then Rashid removed Saurabh Tiwary in the following to reduce Mumbai to 82 for five.
Just when the partnership between Ishan Kishan (33 of 30) and Pollard was looking dangerous, Sandeep removed the southpaw to tighten the screws on the opposition.
However, Pollard came to his team’’s rescue yet again with a valuable cameo.
Pollard hammered four sixes, three of those came in the penultimate over bowled by death overs specialist T Natarajan.
West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder (2/25) also produced a tidy spell.