Yuvraj Singh came to the party with the bat when the Sunrisers Hyderabad needed him, and then the SRH bowlers did what they have done all season, defend a par score, to send their team into Qualifier 2 against the Gujarat Lions on Friday at the expense of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Put into bat in this Eliminator in Delhi, SRH were restricted to 162/8 in their 20 overs, with Yuvraj top-scoring with 44 (30b, 8x4, 1x6). You would have backed the KKR batting lineup to knock off those runs on a not-the-greatest-but-far-from-a-difficult wicket to bat on at the Feroz Shah Kotla, but a combined bowling effort from the Sunrisers put paid to those hopes, with the former champions eventually ending up on 140 for eight, 22 runs short of their target.
There was no perfect, setting-the-game-up opening partnership from Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir, with the former falling in just the second over of the innings, lobbing a catch to Moises Henriques at cover off the bowling of Barinder Sran.
Gambhir (28, 28b, 2x4, 1x6) and Munro looked good together, finding the runs fairly often to keep that scoreboard moving along. However, a brilliant piece of fielding from Yuvraj ended Munro's (16, 17b, 1x4) stay at the crease, with the Indian veteran hitting the stumps direct from backward point.
The KKR skipper then fell to Ben Cutting, mishitting a pull shot, before the Sunrisers were roaring after picking up the wicket of the in-form man Yusuf Pathan, who found Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the deep to give Henriques his first wicket.
At 69/4, KKR, without Andre Russell again, needed a big and quick partnership, and for a while it looked like Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav would provide it, with the two right-handers going on the attack at the right times to put a bit of pressure back on the SRH bowlers. However, after 46 runs from five overs, Suryakumar Yadav holed out in the deep off Henriques (3-0-17-2), leaving Manish Pandey and Rajgopal Sathish to take KKR home.
When Suryakumar Yadav (23, 15b, 1x4, 1x6) fell, KKR needed 48 off 25, with Mustafizur Rahman, the death overs specialist, still having a couple of overs up his sleeve. The first of those Mustafizur (4-0-28-0) overs went for eight runs, courtesy a last-ball four from Pandey, but Bhuvneshwar (4-0-19-3) picked up the vital wicket of Pandey in the next over, leaving Sathish and Holder to knock out the runs, which they could not do as the run rate just kept climbing up and up.
The first innings was one that promised a lot more, but eventually ended up falling a little flat, as SRH kept losing wickets at the wrong time.
Shikhar Dhawan was the first to go, in the second over to Morne Morkel, as the left-hander backed away a little too much to leave his stumps exposed for the bowler to hit middle stump. From there, though, David Warner and Henriques put on a decent partnership of 59, to set some kind of base.
However, the Sunrisers Hyderabad needed one of them to carry on to make a big score, but neither could do that, with both Henriques and Warner falling off consecutive deliveries to Kuldeep Yadav (4-0-35-3). The first to go was Henriques (31, 21b, 1x4, 2x6), who made a mess of an awful delivery down the legside to find a top edge back to the bowler. Warner (28, 28b, 3x4), dropped in the fifth over by Yusuf Pathan, then played a really poor shot next ball, going across the line, missing and seeing his timber disturbed.
Those two wickets in two balls put SRH right on the backfoot again, but another small rebuild came about via the blades of Yuvraj and Deepak Hooda (21, 13b, 2x6), with the two allying for 49 runs. But, again, just when that momentum was swinging SRH's way, a wicket went, and then another.
Yuvraj, however, hit a few precious boundaries to put the Sunrisers in sight of 170, maybe even more, before his crucial wicket, with nine balls left, ended those hopes, forcing SRH to settle for 162.