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Abhishek propels SRH before rain spoils Royals’ hopes of top-2 finish

Hits 28-ball 66 as Sunrisers chase down record 215 against Punjab Kings; rain in Guwahati forces RR and table toppers KKR to split points

Rain in Guwahati washed out Rajasthan Royals’ last IPL league match against table toppers Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, robbing the Royals of a chance to reclaim the second spot and consigning them to a five-match winless streak. KKR opted to bowl in a seven-overs-per-side match at a hurriedly taken toss after ground staff managed to prepare the turf for a very late start, but rain returned to dash Royals’ hopes of an opportunity to bag a win.

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Abhishek Sharma plays a shot during the match against Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League 2024(ANI)

Splitting points left Royals with 17 points, the same as Sunrisers Hyderabad, but Abhishek Sharma’s 28-ball 66 ensured Hyderabad pipped Royals on net run rate after chasing Punjab Kings’ 215 with five balls to spare at home earlier in the day. This means Kolkata Knight Riders — who are yet to realise the impact of English opener Phil Salt’s World Cup departure with their final two league matches being abandoned — will square off with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first Qualifier at Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Loser of that match will get another chance of reaching the final when they play the winners of Wednesday’s Eliminator, featuring Royal Challengers Bengaluru — who have turned a corner after losing seven out of their first eight league matches — and Rajasthan Royals.

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Sunday started with Sunrisers on 15 points, needing a win against Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals to lose against KKR to cement their second position. They were nearly granted that wish. Bulk of the job was done by the batters as usual. Choosing to bat, Punjab Kings rode a 55-ball 97-run first-wicket partnership between Prabhsimran Singh and Atharva Taide to set up the innings before Rilee Rossouw ramped up the scoring with 49 off 24 balls. With Jitesh Sharma providing the finishing touches with a scintillating 15-ball 32, Punjab Kings could have been tempted into thinking they had put up enough.

Arshdeep Singh then bolstered that belief by dismissing Travis Head first ball of Hyderabad’s chase, getting the ball to seam and take the top of off-stump. In came Rahul Tripathi, who presented the full face of his bat to a full inswinger and send the ball screaming through cover point for four. Another four, this time guided over the slip cordon before Tripathi clouted Rishi Dhawan into the stands and Sunrisers were well and truly away despite the early stutter.

Due a last bow at home before the action moves to Ahmedabad and Chennai, Sharma then started wowing the Hyderabad crowd with a stupendous show of clean striking. Two short balls given the right treatment by pulling them over fine-leg for sixes, Sharma then clattered a length delivery over deep third man boundary. Overall, Sharma hit six sixes along with five fours to put pressure back on the Punjab bowlers. With Tripathi, he added 70 off 29 balls to pave the way for Nitish Reddy and Heinrich Klaasen to come in and blaze their way in the middle overs and ensure Sunrisers Hyderabad were never really bothered despite losing a few wickets towards the end.


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