David Warner during his last outing for Sunrisers Hyderabad made it count. The absence of his regular opening partner in Jonny Bairstow didn’t matter him much as the Aussie pummeled 81 (56b, 7x4, 6x2). Warner’s eighth fifty this season couldn’t have come at a better time for the hosts and set up an ideal platform for Rashid Khan to revel with three for 21 in their 45–run win over Kings XI Punjab. With plenty at stake for both teams, Warner’s batting was in keeping with the occasion after being put in by R Ashwin. The Australian southpaw has been the scourge of bowling attacks this IPL season and Punjab found themselves at their wit’s end as he toyed with an attack that lacked bite or purpose. The wicket played an ideal foil, as also Wriddhiman Saha, his new opening partner. It proved a good move by Sunrisers to push Saha up the order with license to express himself and the resultant 77 without loss in the Powerplay turned out to be the best in this edition and SRH’s 212 for six is their highest against this opposition.
KXIP’s 167 for eight paled in contrast as barring KL Rahul (79; 56b, 4x4, 6x5), none of the other batsmen showed the inclination to sustain the fight after Chris Gayle fell to Khaleel Ahmed with Manish Pandey hanging on to the skier at point for dear life. Rashid’s twin strikes in the 13th over set them back further and Kings XI needed 90 from the last five.
The dismissals of Nicholas Pooran, David Miller and Ashwin in quick succession after Rahul and Mayank Agarwal added 60 for the second wicket was unlike the SRH innings, which thrived on two big partnerships.
Delhi beat RCB to seal playoff berth
Delhi Capitals clinched a 16-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore and booked a place in the playoff berth. With 16 points from 12 games, Capital have achieved their primary target of making it to the playoffs. This will be their first appearance in the playoffs since 2012. Chasing 188 for victory, RCB began on a positive note with Parthiv Patel (39) and Virat Kohli (23) adding 63 for the first wicket. But Capitals struck back and saw off both the openers in quick succession. After the openers fell, AB de Villiers and Shivam Dube had raised the RCB hopes for a while, but after AB's dismissal it was as good as over. At 111 for five, RCB were staring down the barrel but Gurkeerat Singh (27) and Marcus Stoinis made the Capitals toil on the field. RCB could manage 171 for seven. Earlier, Capitals won the important toss and posted a competitive 187 at the loss of five wickets. For the hosts, captain Shreyas Iyer made 52 and was well complimented by Shikhar Dhawan.
KKR keep playoff hope alive
Jamaican all-rounder Andre Russell came to help hosts Kolkata knight Riders beat Mumbai Indians by 34 runs thereby keeping their thin hopes of making the playoffs alive. He first hit an unbeaten 40-ball 80 before taking 2/25. MI, who suffered their first defeat to KKR after 2015, missed out ensuring a last-four berth but are one win away from being there. Faced with the monumental task of chasing down KKR’s tally of 232/2- the highest score in IPL-12, the visitors lost their openers Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma early, but Hardik Pandya raised hopes of pulling off an upset victory by hitting sixes almost at will. Mumbai’s challenge ended with Hardik’s dismissal and they ended up with 198 for seven.
Royals keep dream alive
Rajasthan Royals continue to dream, even though the coveted playoffs spot remains a distant one. On Saturday, at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, the Royals kept their hopes alive with a seven-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. Faced with a 161-run target, the hosts made it home quite comfortably, riding a 78-run opening stand between Ajinkya Rahane and Liam Livingstone, followed by a 55-run one for the third wicket between skipper Steve Smith and Sanju Samson. The Sunrisers were cruising at 103 for one in the 12th over. But they lost their way to good total. Their woes can be attributed to some disciplined bowling from the Royals and poor batting.
Mumbai capitalise in Dhoni's absence
Mumbai Indians registered a 46-run win over Chennai Super Kings in the absence of its captain M S Dhoni. While Mumbai went to second spot with the win, this was league-leader CSK’s first loss at Chepauk since 2015. The Net Run Rate of CSK, too, took a severe beating which may go against them in case things get tight for the top-two spots. Scoring 156 was not a challenging target for CSK, but when Dhoni is not playing, things take a different colour. The top and middle-order, which has been under the cosh right through the tournament, was brought under severe test by the likes of left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya (2/7) and pacers like Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah. But for M Vijay (38), who was playing his first match of the tournament, not a single CSK batsman could match the guile of the Mumbai attack and wickets kept falling at regular intervals.
Royals prevail in thriller
Young Assam boy Riyan Parag helped Rajasthan Royals to score an upset three-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens. Parag scored 47 off 31 balls with five fours and two sixes. The 44-run seventh wicket stand between Parag and Jofra Archer helped RR snatch victory from almost an impossible position as KKR suffered their sixth defeat on the trot. Earlier, KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik played a lone hand to help the home team score 175 for six on being put into bat by RR skipper Steve Smith. Karthik registered his highest individual score in IPL by remaining unbeaten on 97 off 50 balls with the help of seven fours and nine sixes.
ABD blitzkrieg keeps RCB afloat
AB de Villiers' unbeaten 82 off 44 balls took RCB to a healthy 202 for 4 and things could have gone awry with young Nicholas Pooran (46 off 28 balls) hitting five sixes at the rear before Saini sealed it in the 19th over. Kings XI Punjab finished at 185 for 7 as RCB are now on eight points with three games left. Needing 30 off the last two, Saini, who is one of India's fastest bowlers, produced a hostile over in which he removed the dangerous David Miller and Pooran but more importantly gave away only three runs. With four wins in the last five games, RCB will hope to win the remaining three and expect a few favourable result to make it to the play-offs as rank outsiders.
Watson comes to Chennai's rescue
Shane Watson tore the Sunrisers Hyderabad attack apart at the MA Chidambaram Stadium with an innings of 96 from 53 balls that shepherded Chennai Super Kings run chase of 176. Once he was dismissed, the situation did become tight with just seven runs coming in the 18th and 19th overs, leaving CSK eight runs to get off the last over. But Kedar Jadhav came up with a timely six in the final over bowled by Sandeep Sharma as they huffed and puffed to victory. The victory, nonetheless, was CSK’s eighth of the season and virtually assures them of a play-offs berth.