Sunrisers Hyderabad produced a clinical performance to seal their place in the Qualifier 2 as they crushed the hopes of two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders with a comfortable 22 runs win in the IPL Eliminator, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
After putting on 162 for eight, riding on Yuvraj Singh’s 30-ball 44, Sunrisers came up with a fine bowling performance and accurate catching to restrict KKR to 140 for eight to progress to the Qualifier 2 stage for the first time since making their debut in 2013.
Sunrsiers will now take on the losers of the Qualifier 1, Gujarat Lions on Friday for their maiden entry into the summit clash of the tournament.
Chasing the target, KKR did not have the best of starts as they lost Robin Uthappa (11) early, caught by Moises Henriques at short extra cover off left-arm pacer Barinder Sran (1/29) in the second over.
In-form KKR captain Gautam Gambhir (28) and Colin Munro (16) then stitched a 38-run partnership before Yuvraj brilliance on the field led to the dismissal of the latter.
Yuvraj caught Munro short of the crease with a direct hit from the point with just one stump to aim at as KKR slumped to 53 for two after seven overs.
To make matters worse for KKR, Gambhir returned to the pavilion an over later while going for a big shot only to miscue it to substitute fielder V Shankar at long-on off Ben Cutting.
Manish Pandey (36) and Suryakumar Yadav (23) then put on 46-runs for the fifth wicket to keep KKR in the hunt. Both Pandey and Yadav played sensibly by rotating the strike and struck fours and sixes when bad deliveries came their way.
With KKR needing 53 off the last five overs, the ever-climbing asking rate took a toll on Yadav as he departed in search of a big shot, caught by a running Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket boundary off Henriques (2/17).
But KKR’s hopes were finally dashed when their top-scorer Pandey holed out at the long-on boundary off Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/19).
Earlier, young spinner Kuldeep Yadav scalped three wickets as Kolkata Knight Riders produced a fine bowling performance to restrict Hyderabad to a manageable total.
Left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep returned with figures of three for 35 to deny Sunrisers a huge total and was ably supported by Morne Morkel (2/31) and Jason Holder (2/33).
Sunrisers were dealt a big blow when Shikhar Dhawan departed in the last ball of the second over.
Dhawan started on a bright note and struck Morkel for back-to-back boundaries before perishing in search of one too many as the South African pacer went through his defence.
Warner and Moises Henriques then stitched a fine 59-run stand for the second wicket that came off 46 balls to stabilize Sunrisers innings before Kuldeep scalped two wickets in consecutive balls to derail the Hyderabad outfit.
Henriques (31 off 21 balls) became Kuldeep?s first victim as the batsman gave a straight forward catch back to the bowler in search of a big shot just after clobbering him over long-off for a six and then Warner was bowled in the very next ball as Sunrisers slumped to 71 for three after 10 overs.
Sunrisers opened the floodgates in the 13th over when Yuvraj Singh (44 off 30) lofted Kuldeep straight over the head for a four and a six.
Deepak Hooda (21 off 13) clobbered Sunil Narine for a six in the first ball off the 15th over before Yuvraj finished off the over with another boundary.
The 16th over from Holder yielded 14 runs for Sunrisers but also witnessed the dismissal of Hooda who was run out.
Sunrisers promoted big-hitting Ben Cutting up the order ahead of Naman Ojha but the Australian failed to make any impact as he was foxed by a googly from Kuldeep and Robin Uthappa did the rest behind the stumps.
But Yuvraj looked in vintage touch as he hit the bowler for consecutive fours in 17th over to take Sunrisers forward.
Just when it looked Yuvraj would register his maiden half-century of the ongoing IPL, the left-hander perished, bowled by Holder.
Towards the end, Bipul Sharma (14 not out off 6) played a short cameo as he walloped Morkel for two hits over the fence in the final over to take Sunrisers past the 160-run score.