Courtesy of a superior Net Run Rate, Hyderabad now just need to win one of their remaining two games to confirm their place in the playoffs, Meanwhile, even if Punjab win there remaining two encounters, they will need quite a few results to go in their favour.
In reply, apart from KL Rahul (60-ball 79), none of the Punjab batsmen showed the much-required stomach for a fight as Khaleel Ahmed and Rashid Khan scalped three wickets each to restrict them to 167 for 8.
Playing his last match of the season, Warner once again looked at his very best and combined with a couple of fiery cameos led Hyderabad to 212 for 6 in their 20 overs after they were asked to bat first.
With seven consecutive 50-plus scores against Punjab, Warner once again commenced in a grand fashion and had Wriddhiman Saha for company who was even more ruthless with his approach. There wasn't much in the surface and both the batsmen made the most of it by going after the young duo of Arshdeep Singh and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
The two bowlers failed to hit the right line and length and were smashed all around the park. The home team went past the 50-run mark in just four overs - fastest this season. Mohammed Shami (2 for 36) and R Ashwin (2 for 30) too tried their luck inside the powerplay but suffered the same fate as Hyderabad raced to 77 for no loss at the end of six overs. Punjab needed a breakthrough and it was M Ashwin who drew the first blood when he had Saha caught behind for 13-ball 28.
Having been amongst runs in his last two encounters, Pandey took some time to settle in and that allowed Punjab to slow things down a bit. Warner brought up his ninth 50-plus score of this season by finding a boundary towards the third man fence and that's when the two opted to up the ante. R Ashwin brought back Arshdeep and Mujeeb back into the attack and that allowed Warner and Pandey to open their shoulders.
The 82-run stand was finally broken by R Ashwin as Pandey hit one straight into the hands of the fine leg fielder when he was on 36. The offspinner then had Warner caught at point in the same over but only after the left-hander had slammed seven fours and two maximums in his last game of the season. The opener from New South Wales finished with 692 runs in 12 games at an average of 69.20 and has a lead of over 200 runs over the second highest run-getter - Andre Russell (486).
Just when it looked like Punjab were making a comeback in this game, Mohammad Nabi (10-ball 20) and Kane Williamson (7-ball 14) then accumulated 26 runs off Mujeeb's final over as the off-spinner from Afghanistan ended with the figures of 0 for 66. Shami and Arshdeep picked up a couple of wickets in the final two overs but by then Hyderabad already had enough runs to defend.
Punjab needed Chris Gayle (4) to fire but Khaleel (3 for 40) had other ideas. The left-arm paceman managed to induce a top-edge off Gayle's huge willow and Pandey did well to hold on to the catch that went miles in the air. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal then added 60 runs in decent time but the run rate kept inflating.
The Karnataka boys didn't really put any pressure on Hyderabad bowlers and that allowed the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid (3 for 21) to dictate terms. Agarwal muscled Rashid for a maximum to pass a statement but the legspinner got his revenge on the very next delivery, having him caught at deep mid-wicket for 18-ball 27.
With Rahul struggling at the other end, Nicholas Pooran walked in with just one purpose and started swinging from the ball one. The Trinidadian managed a couple of big blows off Nabi and Khaleel's bowling before falling to the latter for 10-ball 21. David Miller (11) stayed for a while but couldn't make any impact as Rashid outfoxed him and R Ashwin in consecutive deliveries to reduce Punjab to 107 for 5 in 13 overs.
Rahul tonked Nabi for back-to-back sixes to complete his fifty but not once looked like causing a threat to Hyderabad. With 90 needed off 30 balls, the 27-year-old finally opened up and started playing his shots freely. Debutant PrabhSimran Singh (16) hit a couple of eye-pleasing shots but failed to provide extensive support to Rahul.
Rahul finally perished in the penultimate over but by then the game was way gone.
First Published: April 30, 2019, 8:10 AM IST