Neither David Warner nor Steve Smith had the greatest day with the bat but it was Warner who ended up smiling in the battle between the two Australian IPL captains as his Sunrisers Hyderabad side cantered to an eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals.
Manish Pandey's 83 not out off 47 balls, decorated with four fours and eight sixes, ended up nullifying the excellence of Jofra Archer as the Sunrisers achieved their first win in five attempts while chasing in IPL 2020 to move into fifth spot in the table.
Warner, who had earlier been dismissed yet again by Archer for four, was left thrilled. "It was a stunning performance. Starts with the toss where you questioned my decision to chase," he smiled at the post-match presentation.
"We probably are a better defending team, but my decision to chase was based on the last two games. And the weather is cooler, with dew around, it might be flipping around for everyone."
It was a bad day for Smith, though, because while his Royals side also have eight points, they have played one match more than the Sunrisers and have therefore slid further away from playoff qualification. They need to win their last three matches to progress.
Smith made 19 off 15 balls in mid-innings and Ben Stokes 30 from 32 as Rajasthan laboured to 6-154, a total that Hyderabad overhauled with 11 balls to spare.
Pandey and Vijay Shankar hit half-centuries as they combined for an unbeaten 140 with their side 2-16 in the third over.
Pandey was summoned to the middle in the first over after Warner was out to Archer for the sixth time this year in all formats.
Shankar joined him after Jonny Bairstow was bowled by Archer in the third over.
"Our plan was to see Jofra off even if he had bowled a third (successive over)," Pandey said.
"We had two leggies and a couple of Indian fast bowlers to go after. I just middled the first ball, and automatically I thought if I keep my shape and use the powerplay, I could finish this well before the final over."
Pandey didn't waste any time. He hit two cut fours off Kartik Tyagi, then two sixes off Ben Stokes, and two more sixes off Tyagi as he raced to his half-century off 28 balls.
When Archer came back for a last crack in the 16th over, Shankar sent the first three deliveries to the fence to see him off, even though the Englishman finished with sterling figures of 2-21.
Australian Associated Press