Sunrisers Hyderabad registered an important win against Royal Challengers Bangalore, making the fight for the third and fourth places, and thus the scramble for the playoffs, that much more hotter.
In the 12th match for each team, Sunrisers defeated Challengers by seven wickets at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Tuesday evening.
With their fifth win, Sunrisers are on 10 points, the same as Challengers but are sixth in the table below Virat Kohli's side due to a poorer Net Run Rate. Sunrisers and Bangalore can both reach a maximum of 14 points should they win both their remaining matches, RCB against Kolkata Knight Riders on May 22 and against Chennai Super Kings on May 24 and Sunrisers against CSK on Thursday and Kolkata Knight Riders two days later.
Sunrisers top-order put up a clinical performance while chasing a challenging target of 161, after their bowlers restricted Bangalore to 160/6. In his second match after relinquishing the captain's band, Sunrisers opener Shikhar Dhawan returned to form with a stroke-filled 50 (39b, 7x4, 1x6) and shared 100 in 12.3 overs for the opening wicket with David Warner. The left-handed Australian helped himself to a 46-ball 59 with three fours and four sixes, putting the match beyond Challengers grasp.
Dhawan attacked from the start with some flowing cover drives and a hooked six off Varun Aaron. The lndian opener dominated the Powerplay, scoring 29 out of 51 runs in that period. Thereafter, once the field spread, Warner took charge, picking up a six off veteran Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and two maximum hits off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Hyderabad were always ahead though the win came off the fourth delivery of the final over. Naman Ojha played his part with a 20-ball 24 (2x6) while back-again-captain in the previous match, Darren Sammy was there in the end to see his team cross the line and earn two invaluable points. Hyderabad needed 20 off the last two overs but an erratic Aaron conceded 16 runs including two sixes, one each to Ojha and Sammy.
A loss here to Hyderabad would have almost certainly meant curtains for them.
Earlier, Kohli scored his first half-century of the league. His 41-ball 67 (4x4, 4x6) held the Bangalore innings together. A better start from Chris Gayle and Parthiv Patel would have given RCB a much taller score that could have made the difference in the end.
Only Yuvraj Singh (21) and AB de Villiers (29) gave Kohli some support against Hyderabad, who used seven bowlers including Jammu and Kashmir off-spinner Parvez Rasool, who finished with a tidy 1/26 in his four overs, his victim being Yuvraj.
SRH WON BY 7 WICKETS