Hyderabadis have found a reason to celebrate. Sunrisers, the new franchise, unlike the earlier city-based Deccan Chargers which took nine games to register its first home win, won its third straight home game, when it defeated Kings XI Punjab by five wickets with seven balls to spare in the Pepsi IPL-VI match at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Friday.
Chasing a modest 124, SRH, despite losing wickets at regular intervals, romped home in style in the end. Lusty hitting by southpaw Thisara Perera, who struck three huge sixes off Azhar Mahmood in the 19th over, ensured no comeback routes for the opponent. This was after SRH was reduced to 97 for five in 16.1 overs.
SRH made a poor start, opener Quinton de Kock being cleaned up by Praveen Kumar off just the fourth ball of the innings. Though Akshath Reddy whipped paceman Manpreet Grewal over mid-on to the fence, the bowler was soon smiling as Azhar Mahmood pulled off a stunning, one-handed catch at mid-off to reduce SRH to 48 for two in 7.5 overs.
Hanuma Vihari played a sensible innings, but just when he looked set for his maiden IPL fifty, he was caught by David Hussey at short-cover, unable to resist the temptation to drive a widish delivery from leg-spinner Piyush Chawla.
Grewal came back to dismiss Cameron White with one that kept low, and triggered hopes of a Kings XI comeback at 87 for four in 15.1 overs. In the next over, Azhar Mahmood earned an lbw decision against Biplab Samantray to reduce the home team to 97 for five.
Earlier, after winning the toss, it was another dismal batting performance from KXIP. First, fast bowler Ishant Sharma dismissed opener Mandeep Singh, whose mistimed hook was well taken by wicketkeeper de Kock.
Leg-spinner Karan Sharma was the surprise package — striking a double blow in his second over. Captain Adam Gilchrist pulled one straight to the deep and soon an out-of-sorts Paul Valthaty hit one straight to long-off. These dismissals came at the right time for SRH as Gilchrist was just threatening to regain his wonted form — hitting fast bowler Perera for three fours in one over.
The KXIP scorecard read an unimpressive 59 for three from 10 overs.
But the entry of pinch-hitter Piyush Chawla brought cheers in the dug-out. He carted Karan for two huge sixes — one over square-leg and the other over long-off.
However, he was run out soon after, thanks to a smart fielding effort by Akshath Reddy at mid-on.
Indiscreet strokeplay saw KXIP lose four wickets off four balls spread over two overs. In the last five overs, it scored only 31 runs while losing five wickets.