KL Rahul's third fifty in four matches helped Kings XI Punjab over the line with a ball to spare, ensuring they maintained a perfect home record in IPL 2019 with a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. The visiting bowling unit did well to stretch the match into the final over as a 114-run second-wicket stand between Rahul and Mayank Agarwal nearly went to waste due to a late stumble chasing a target of 151.
With 19 off 18 balls required and nine wickets in hand, Sandeep Sharma and Siddharth Kaul suddenly dragged Sunrisers back into the contest with a superb pair of death overs that claimed Agarwal, David Miller and Mandeep Singh to leave Rahul and new man Sam Curran needing 11 to get off the final over bowled by Mohammad Nabi. But Sunrisers paid for sloppy fielding in the ensuing sequence as a pair of would-be singles by Curran turned into two twos, before a final fumble by David Warner at long-on on the penultimate ball allowed a single to become another two for the winning run.
After R Ashwin won the toss and sent the visitors in to bat, the Kings XI bowling unit strangled Sunrisers top-order in the first half of the innings. Jonny Bairstow fell to Mujeeb Ur Rahman's fourth ball in the second over as a leg stump line of attack that initially resulted in a pair of leg-side wides finally paid off with a catch flicked to Ashwin at midwicket.
Warner survived a run-out chance by Miller at backward point on 4 in the fifth over as both he and Vijay Shankar struggled to get momentum going in the face of a disciplined display by the hosts, ending the Powerplay at 27 for 1. The pair reached 50 for 1 at the halfway mark, having gone 5.1 overs without a boundary. The pressure finally resulted in Shankar edging Ashwin behind in the 11th as his attempted late cut to third man went awry due to some extra bounce.
Warner shifts gears
Entering the 16th over, Warner was still striking at under a run a ball before taking Mujeeb on to give Sunrisers a late burst. Warner had earlier showed signs of getting unstuck by reverse sweeping Mujeeb over point for a boundary in the 13th and became aggressive once more against the Afghan by stepping outside leg stump to loft him over long-on for six, moving to 47 off 46 balls. He brought up a 49-ball half-century later in the over, the slowest of Warner's T20 career.
Warner survived another chance on the second ball of the final over. After Mohammed Shami had Manish Pandey caught at deep midwicket to start the over, Warner should have been out on 69 gloving an attempted scoop to the keeper but was given not out. A single next ball allowed Deepak Hooda on strike, who flicked four past the keeper before two straight drives accounted for another 10 runs to complete 100 off the final 10 overs for Sunrisers.
Rashid nabs Gayle the whale
The 20-year-old Afghan legspinner took a famous beating at the hands of the Universe Boss on the same ground last season when Gayle torched Rashid Khan for six sixes, including four in a row during one over, on the way to an unbeaten 104 off 63 balls. Rashid ended with 1 for 55 on that day in a Kings XI win.
But on this occasion, their showdown was short and sweet in favour of Rashid who nabbed the biggest fish out there. Having already scored 16 of Kings XI's first 18 runs, Gayle decided to take on the first delivery Rashid bowled after entering the attack in the fourth over and wound up driving a catch to Hooda at long-on, who charged in for a brilliant take.
Rahul stays cool
After Gayle fell, wickets were hard to come by for Rashid and everyone else in the Sunrisers bowling unit. Rahul continued his fine early season form by steering the rest of the Kings XI chase. He smacked Nabi for two boundaries in the 13th to bring up a 34-ball half-century.
Victory looked assured before the late wobble of wickets. But after five runs by Curran to start the final over, Rahul's dominance over Nabi continued with a straight driven four to take the equation down to two off two balls. Another flick by Rahul toward long-on was certain to level the scores but wound up becoming the winning shot after Warner couldn't pick up the ball cleanly.