The Royal Challengers Bangalore buckled under the pressure of a big score in a must-win game earlier on Thursday to see their IPL 2014 playoff hopes come to a tame end; the Sunrisers Hyderabad, though, refused to go out with just a whimper, making a target of 186 look as easy as a Sunday morning stroll.
David Warner, loving life back at the top of the order, brought out his big-hitting guns yet again, bashing the Chennai Super Kings bowlers to submission in an enthralling knock of 90 (45b, 12x4, 3x6) to guide SRH to a convincing six-wicket win.
CSK would have thought they were on course to snap a two-game losing streak after posting 185 for three in their 20 overs, with Dwayne Smith, MS Dhoni and David Hussey all playing good knocks.
However, Warner had other ideas, blitzing the CSK bowlers at the top, before Shikhar Dhawan (64 n.o., 50b, 4x4, 2x6) finished the chase off wonderfully well in 19.4 overs to keep SRH in the hunt for that fourth and final place in the playoffs.
The two points takes the Sunrisers to 12 from 13 matches, and after KKR beat RCB in the early game, the Hyderabad side need the Rajasthan Royals to lose their final two matches and hope to sneak in on net run rate. CSK, who have now lost three in a row, stay second on 16 points, but only on run rate, with the marauding Kolkata Knight Riders breathing down their necks for a place in the top two.
Warner started the chase of like a man possessed, tonking the living daylights of the white ball, as Shikhar Dhawan, a mere spectator, watched in glee from the other end.
The charge began in the first over, courtesy two boundaries off Mohit Sharma, with R Ashwin then bearing Warner's brunt as pretty much every over until the 12th went for plenty, with SRH storming to 114 for no loss after the first 66 balls of the second innings.
Dhawan scored just 22 runs in the opening partnership of 116 from 11.2 overs as Warner set the game up perfectly for his side. In fact, the Aussie looked on course to become the second player in two days to score a hundred in IPL 2014, only for his compatriot John Hastings, who had gone for 21 runs in an over courtesy Warner, to pick him up in the 12th over of the innings.
Following Warner's dismissal, SRH needed 70 from the final 46 deliveries, with the onus falling on Dhawan to pick up from where his opening partner had left off. Dhawan did just that, putting on 52 in 35 balls with Naman Ojha (19, 17b, 1x6), before seeing his side home in the final over despite a couple of late wickets.
The first 20 overs saw the Chennai Super Kings get off to a bright start courtesy an early onslaught from Smith, before MS Dhoni, the finisher extraordinaire, and David Hussey finished the innings off to perfection.
Faf Du Plessis was sent in to open the innings with Smith, with Brendon McCullum back home for the birth of his third child, and the new CSK opening duo got off to a blistering start. Smith opened things up with three boundaries off the first over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, before Du Plessis got in on the act with three of his own against his compatriot Dale Steyn, who had a game to forget in Ranchi.
Du Plessis (10, 11b, 4x4) looked really good in the middle, enjoying himself in the Powerplay overs, but the South African's quickfire innings was cut short in the most unlucky manner – Smith hitting the ball straight back with Karn Sharma just getting a piece of the ball and hitting the stumps catching Du Plessis out of his crease.
The West Indian, though, did not let that unfortunate dismissal bother him too much, continuing his assault by smoking Parvez Rasool, so impressive in his last game against RCB, for three straight sixes. Smith (47, 28b, 4x4, 4x6) looked on course for another big innings, only to fall to Karn Sharma in the next over, the seventh, trapped in front after misreading a googly from the leg-spinner.
Sharma (4-0-19-2) would then pick up Suresh Raina as well, with the left-hander holing out in the deep, as SRH looked to claw their way back after the early blitz. Dhoni and Hussey, who had a rather forgettable first game for CSK a couple of matches ago, came in, used their experience, settled things down, set the platform, and then went slam-bang thank you ma'am.
The two right-handers put on 108 in just 11.2 overs, with Hussey (50 n.o., 33b, 5x4, 2x6), initially taking on the aggressor's role, before Dhoni (57, 41b, 2x4, 4x6) went six crazy right at the death, taking Steyn (4-0-43-0) for 24 runs in the final over – Dhoni and Hussey scoring 68 runs together in the final five overs.