Hyderabad // There are days when excellence takes a backseat, and two teams do their best to lose a game of cricket.
For Sunrisers Hyderabad, who were within one win of topping the points table, and Kings XI Punjab, who were yet to give their campaign any concrete shape, this was one such game. In a match that was scrappy at best, and much worse for the best part, Hyderabad had enough firepower to chase down 123.
When Adam Gilchrist, leading Punjab, won the toss and chose to bat, he would have hoped that a change in personal fortunes would rub off on to his team.
For a time last night, it seemed that the long blade was going to cut deep.
Gilchrist, almost halfway between his 41st and 42nd years, threatened to reprise his greatest hits, crashing the ball through the off side with limited footwork and lifting the ball over the on side with sublime timing.
But, just as he threatened to play an impact innings, Gilchrist fell for a 25-ball 26.
With Mandeep Singh, the other opener, failing to impress, and Paul Valthaty consuming 17 balls for a bumbling six, Punjab were sliding.
When the need of the hour was a solid anchor, Punjab got a middle order that was long on ambition and short on pragmatism.
Every batsman attempted to clear the rope without having a clear plan.
David Hussey's 22 and a brisk 23 from the promoted Piyush Chawla only left Punjab at 104 for 5 in the middle of the 17th over.
The tail failed to wag and they finished with a sub-par 123 for 9.
On most days, against many teams, this would have been a score that would have been surpassed without fuss.
However, the Sunrisers have made it a habit to do as little as possible with the bat.
All that was needed was a sensible approach, and typically, this was not what followed.
With no batsman remaining calm, it was only a chancy 46 from Hanuma Vihari that allowed Hyderabad to reach 97 when their fifth wicket fell.
Thisara Perera, held back for an eventuality where the game was teetering in the balance, sealed the deal, hitting two humongous sixes off Azhar Mahmood to get Hyderabad across the line with seven balls and five wickets to spare.
Anand Vasu is managing editor at Wisden India.
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