Maxwell rides luck again as Punjab edge Hyderabad
Hyderabad 205-5 (20 ov)
Punjab 211-4 (18.4 ov)
Toss: Punjab, chose to field
Hyderabad: Naman 79, Shikhar 45, Warner 44; R Dhawan 2-42
Punjab: Saha 54, Vohra 47, Maxwell 43, Bailey 35; Mishra 1-32
Man of the match: Wriddhiman (Punjab)
In front of a buzzing home crowd at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Uppal, Sunrisers Hyderabad must be wondering what more they could do.
Put in to bat on an excellent batting surface, Hyderabad put up a total in surplus of 200, only to see Kings XI Punjab chase down, for a second time this season, the identical target of 206.
Punjab had chased down Chennai Super Kings’ total earlier, and the batting prowess of both teams is testimony to the fact that both are jostling with each other for the lead on the table.
If Glenn Maxwell was the architect in that win over Chennai, today was a mixed bag.
Wriddhiman Saha and Manan Vohra turned the spotlight on themselves with a most memorable second-wicket alliance of 91, and Maxwell then came in and helped himself to a bouquet of legside sixes as Punjab bounced back emphatically from their nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.
On a day that bowlers from both sides would love to forget in a hurry, Punjab rattled to 211 for four, romping home by six wickets to return to the top of the table.
Naman Ojha had earlier lifted the Hyderabad innings with a spectacular unbeaten 79 off only 36 balls. Saha decided he was not to be left behind in the battle of the wicketkeeper-batsmen.
The diminutive right-hand batsman exploded from the beginning after the second-ball dismissal of Virender Sehwag, linking up in the match-turning stand with Vohra, in his first match of the season, that came off just 41 deliveries.
It was an association to behold, neither batsman a passive partner as the boundaries flowed with breathtaking rapidity. Despite their relative lack of success thus far, Hyderabad still possess one of the stronger bowling attacks in the competition.
Even Dale Steyn, was not spared. There were audacious pulls off the front foot, spectacular drives over the infield, and the occasional cute dab as Shikhar Dhawan, who himself had found some touch earlier in the afternoon, was left searching for answers.
Vohra, one of two players retained by Punjab in the offseason, set the ball rolling with a meaty pull off Steyn that mocked the length of the midwicket boundary, then enjoyed the entertainment from the best seat in the town as Saha went into overdrive.
Between them, Vohra and Saha struck 13 fours and four sixes in 46 deliveries combined that fetched 101 runs. Punjab showed that they had more strings to their bow than just Maxwell and David Miller.
In the same over in which Saha was stumped off Karn Sharma, Maxwell smacked three towering sixes, all over midwicket. Caught off an Amit Mishra no-ball when 23, he celebrated the reprieve with two more sixes off Karn’s next over.
It was ferocious stroke-making; the partisan home crowd was taken aback, but it found enough voice to appreciate the assault, even if their team was at the receiving end.
After Maxwell’s fall, Hyderabad did apply some pressure and bring the equation up to 26 off 18 balls, but captain George Bailey smashed Steyn for 22 runs in the 18th over to settle the issue.
R Kaushik is deputy editor at Wisden India. Visit www.wisdenindia.com or follow then on Twitter @WisdenIndia
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Published: May 14, 2014 04:00 AM