In the sixth season of the Indian Premier League, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have redefined the art of defending low totals. The fire and brimstone of Dale Steyn with new and old ball, the sheer experience and guile of Amit Mishra in the middle overs, and the exuberance of Karan Sharma have proved the undoing of many teams. When Hyderabad won the toss on Monday (May 13) and forced Mumbai to chase for the first time this season at the Wankhede Stadium, they found a way to lose a game after doing the hard work of putting the runs on the board.
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Kieron Pollard, thriving in a sink-or-swim situation, showed that desperation can occasionally be a batsman's ally in a brutal assault that ensured that Mumbai went past Hyderabad's 178 for 3 with 7 wickets and 3 balls to spare. (Watch analysis)
The game was in Hyderabad's favour till the 17th over of the chase, which Thisara Perera bowled. Mumbai had reached 117 for 3, with Sachin Tendulkar having retired hurt on 38. Rohit Sharma pounced on a long-hop, rocking back to hit the ball into the top tier of the tall stands at Wankhede. A single put Pollard on strike, and mayhem ensued. A boundary and a hat-trick of sixes took the tally for the over to 29, making a mockery of the required rate. (See pictures)
In a bid to staunch the bleed, Amit Mishra was brought back, and once again a single from Rohit was followed by a hat-trick of Pollard sixes. Bringing up the second fastest half-century of the season off only 20 balls, three slower than fellow West Indian Chris Gayle, Pollard stamped his authority on the chase. Dale Steyn, who was consistently magnificent to concede only 23 from his quota, took the game to the final over, with seven still needed. Hyderabad chose to give Perera a chance to redeem himself, but all Pollard saw was an opportunity to cash in. Two more sixes took Pollard's tally to eight for the innings, a 27-ball 66 that put Mumbai on the top of the points table.
The tone for the game was set early on by Parthiv Patel, or, to be more accurate, by Mitchell Johnson, who first strayed on the pads and then overcompensated by bowling short and wide outside the off to be pinged for four boundaries in an over that yielded 19. Shikhar Dhawan, on whom Hyderabad have leant so heavily for runs, got into the act, rising with the ball to uppercut Dhawal Kulkarni for the first six of the innings. With 38 on the board, Parthiv played one shot too many to hole out to square-leg. (Read: statistical highlights)
Dhawan got better after Parthiv's departure, marrying timing with placement to beat the offside field with ease. Hanuma Vihari, batting at No. 3, bedded down to give the innings stability, and protected a partnership that was eventually worth 73 when Dhawan stepped out to Johnson and feathered an edge to the 'keeper. Dhawan's 41-ball 59 ensured that Hyderabad had the perfect launchpad. Vihari continued to build, hitting just four fours in his 41, but Cameron White cleared his front leg and launched the ball into the stands thrice in a 23-ball 43 that took Hyderabad to 178.
In the face of Pollard's late assault, it proved too few.