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Defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad strengthened their hold on the fourth and final play-offs spot of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as they thumped top-placed Mumbai Indians by seven wickets at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here on Monday. Playing their final home game of the league stage, Hyderabad restricted Mumbai to 138/7 in 20 overs, before Shikhar Dhawan (62 not out off 46 deliveries) and Moises Henriques (44 off 35) shared a 91-run stand for the second wicket to steer them home with 1.4 overs to spare. Following this win, Hyderabad, having 15 points from 13 games, eliminated Delhi Daredevils (eight points from 11 games) from the race to the play-offs. But Hyderabad's place in the knock-outs are not confirmed, as fifth-placed Kings XI Punjab (10 points from 11 matches) can still qualify for the play-offs. Only Mumbai have sealed their berth in the play-offs, while Kolkata Knight Riders (16 points from 12 matches) and Rising Pune Supergiant (16 points from 12 matches) are strong contenders.
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Punjab will have to win all of their remaining three games to be in the hunt for the play-offs. Hyderabad will travel to Kanpur to face Gujarat Lions in their final league game. Hence, going by their poor away record this edition, it was important for the David Warner-led side to win at home on Monday. Coming into the game on the back of two consecutive losses, they needed to raise their game and they did. Winning the toss and electing to bat, Mumbai initially struggled on a slower pitch and needed Rohit Sharma's sublime 67 off 45 deliveries to get to 138/7 in a crucial match for Hyderabad as far as play-offs chances are concerned. Mumbai's second-highest scorer was Parthiv Patel with 23. The classy stroke-maker that he is, Rohit was the only batsman who could take on against Siddharth Kaul (3/24), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/29), Mohammad Nabi (1/13) and Rashid Khan (1/22). Hyderabad captain Warner exploited the slowish nature of the wicket, as he introduced Afghan off-spinner Nabi in the second over and the latter gave no rooms for the Mumbai batsmen to go for shots.
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Nabi struck in his fourth delivery, running through the defence of Lendl Simmons (1). Nabi's efective bowling resulted in another wicket as a desperate Nitish Rana (9) pulled medium pacer Kaul to Bhuvneshwar at mid-off, as Mumbai were reduced to 22/2 in 4.1 overs. The next delivery could have been Mumbai three wickets down but Parthiv, at the personal score of 10, was dropped by Vijay Shankar at point off Kaul. However, the left-handed batsman couldn't make most of it as exactly 12 deliveries later, he hit straight a Kaul delivery to David Warner at long-on, as Mumbai reeled at 36/3. Then, Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya (15) forged a 60-run stand for the fourth wicket to bail the team out of the trouble. Rohit started slowly with ones and twos but got into groove once set his eyes in. He hoicked a leg-spinner Rashid Khan delivery over long-on to launch his attack. He targeted medium pacer Moises Enrique in the 14th over and collected three fours in the Australian's over.
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In the next over, Pandya lost his wicket, top-edging Rashid to Enriques at cover in the second ball, as Hyderabad lost their fourth wicket for 96. Rohit then completed his fifty and further threatened the hosts with a four and a six against Mohammed Siraj and Bhuvneshwar respectively. His innings ended when he played a Kaul delivery on to his stumps in the first delivery of the 19th over. The edition's leading wicket-taker Bhuvneshwar then did the job for Hyderabad by removing Kieran Pollard (5) and Karn Sharma (5) as Mumbai were restricted to 138/7. Chasing the small target, Hyderabad suffered an early nightmare as captain and leasing run-scorer Warner (6) was plumbed in front of the wickets against left-arm pacer Mitchell McClenaghan in the first ball of the second over. Then Henriques joined hands with Dhawan and the pair kept patience and played riskfree cricket after initial few quiet overs. By the end of Powerplay overs (6), they took Hyderabad to 43/1.
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Having got a grip of the pitch, they stepped up the gear as Henriques employed hook and pull shots against medium pacers to good effect, while Dhawan used his feet and experience beautifully against the spinners, especially leg-spinner Karn Sharma. Having collected 40 runs in the next four overs, the left-right combo put the hosts in command, with only 56 required from 10 overs. The partnership was broken by paceman Jasprit Bumrah, who found a leading edge off Henrique and was holed out at short cover by Rohit. Dhawan, however, completed his half-century in 35 deliveries, as he drove Hyderabad near Mumbai's total. Yuvraj Singh (9) continued his inconsistent show as he drove a delivery from Malinga to Pandya at cover, with the home team at 112/3 in 14.4 overs. Dhawan and Vijay Shankar (15 not out) then saw the team home as Hyderabad posted their sixth win out of seven games at this stadium.