Kings XI Punjab cannot get that smooth, exciting, smash-bang brand of cricket that enthralled everyone in IPL 2014 going this season, try as they might. A return to Mohali for the first time in IPL 2015 was thought to be the possible "the good-luck charm returns" scenario for KXIP, but, yet again, their much-vaunted batting lineup, albeit sans Virender Sehwag and Glenn Maxwell, failed again, with the Sunrisers Hyderabad taking away a precious two points.
Put into bat first, SRH looked on course for a big score as Warner (58, 41b, 10x4, 1x6) was his typically Warner self, smashing the bowlers at will and keeping that run rate hovering around the 8-9-run mark. Had Warner played until the end, or at least near the end, than getting out in the tenth over, SRH would have cruised to 180 and more.
Instead, once their skipper fell, to a lob to long-on off Axar Patel, the middle order, yet again, struggled to find their boundary-hitting mojo, with the Kings XI Punjab pulling things back brilliantly.
Just like that, with Warner's wicket, SRH went from 76 in ten overs to don't-know-what-to-do mode. Just another 74 runs came in the final ten overs, and that too only thanks to two huge sixes from Ashish Reddy (22, 8b, 1x4, 2x6) in the final over, when the Sunrisers should have at least gotten 90.
So, KXIP would have gone into the second innings, fancying chasing down 151, but then their batting has never quite gone according to plan this season has it. Manan Vohra, in for Sehwag, fell to Trent Boult, preferred to Dale Steyn, early, playing a wide ball outside off onto his stumps, before the usually-calm-during-the-chase man – Shaun Marsh – also did the same, this time to Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
George Bailey (22, 16b, 3x4) came in at No.4, with KXIP in a spot of bother, and played some wonderful cricketing strokes to take the pressure off, and easily enough the home team looked on course for the target again. However, a rare false stroke from the Kings XI skipper, as he failed to clear mid-off off Moises Henriques, tilted the balance in SRH's favour again, with that balance skewed very much towards the away team as Murali Vijay, via a run out, and David Miller, courtesy a hole out, fell without making enough of an impression.
At 72/5, with KXIP needing 79 from 46 balls, the game seemed over, but Wriddhiman Saha, who lived a charmed life, and Axar Patel kept the game alive with a nice partnership of 44 from 29 balls.
Sensing the danger of taking the game too deep, Warner brought his strike bowler Boult (4-0-19-3) in the 18th over, and the first ball was a full, straight yorker which sent the middle-stump of Axar (17, 13b, 1x6) cartwheeling, with the final one of the over inducing a mistimed pull shot from Saha (42, 33b, 2x4, 1x6).
With Kings XI needed 28 from the final two overs, and just three wickets in hand, SRH closed the game out easily enough to stop their opponents at 130 for nine and pick up a 20-run win, which is also their third in seven matches. Kings XI, who were top-of-the-table this time last season, though, remain rooted to the bottom with just two wins in seven.