Kings XI ride Rahul, Agarwal 50s to beat Sunrisers (Lead)
Mohali, April 9 (IANS) Kings XI Punjab made heavy weather of an easy run-chase but in the end rode stylish half centuries from K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to edge-past Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets in a thrilling Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter here on Monday.
Auditioning for a berth in the World Cup squad, opener Rahul remained not out at 71 off 53 balls to notch up his third half-century of the season with the help of seven fours and one six as good friend Agarwal (55; 43 balls; 3x4; 3x6) matched him with equal gusto.
Chasing a modest 151 for victory, the pair added 114 runs for the second wicket after the hosts lost Chris Gayle (16) early to a Rashid Khan 1/20) delivery which the southpaw tried to hit for a six, getting caught by Deepak Hooda at long on.
It was all Rahul-Agarwal show from there on, as the Karnataka pair paced their innings to perfection and played some delightful shots down the ground. While Rahul brought up his fifty in 34 balls, Agarwal took 40 deliveries to get there.
Agarwal -- who was dropped by Yusuf Pathan on 40 -- holed out to Vijay Shankar at deep midwicket off Sandeep Sharma (2/21) in the 18th over.
But just when it looked like the damage had already been done, David Miller (1) and Mandeep Singh (2) threw their wickets away to Sandeep in the same over and Siddarth Kaul in the 19th to leave the game on the edge with 11 runs needed in the final over.
Mohammad Nabi gave just five runs away from the first three balls before Rahul hit a magnificent straight drive for four to then score the winning runs off a David Warner misfield as Punjab won with one ball to spare, putting up 151/4 in 19.5 overs.
Earlier, Warner struck an unbeaten half-century but Punjab bowlers put in a disciplined effort to restrict Sunrisers to 150/4 after skipper R Ashwin asked them to bat first.
In-form Warner brought up his third IPL fifty of the season as he scored an unbeaten 70 (62 balls, 4x6, 6x1), but it was an uncharacteristic knock where the destructive Australian left-hander struggled with timing as he carried his bat through the innings.
In the last two overs, Sunrisers managed 26 runs to up the ante with Deepak Hooda (14*) hitting Mohammed Shami (1/30) for 15 runs in the final over, including two fours and a six.
Warner joined hands with Manish Pandey (19) for a 55-run fourth wicket partnership but it never really took off.
Asked to bat first, the visitors lost Jonny Bairstow (1) early, as the England stumper-batsman flicked Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/34) to Ravichandran Ashwin at short midwicket who took a smart catch.
It took Warner 15 balls to hit his first boundary in the fifth over when the southpaw punched an overpitched Ankit Rajpoot delivery past the diving mid-on fielder.
Warner and Shankar (26) laboured to a 49-run stand for the second wicket as Sunrisers trudged to 50/1 at the halfway stage.
Shankar lost his wicket just after that, trying to guide a Ashwin (1/30) carrom ball towards third man and feathering it to wicketkeeper K.L. Rahul in the process.
Mohammad Nabi (12) was run out by Ashwin off his own bowling as Sunrisers could only get to 92/3 after 15 overs.
Pandey and Warner then tried their best to get some runs but it was only after the latter got out that Hyderabad accelerated to get to 150-run mark.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 150/4 (David Warner 70 not out; Ravichandran Ashwin 1/30; Mohammed Shami 1/30; Kings XI Punjab 151/4 K.L. Rahul 71 not out, Mayank Agarwal 55; Sandeep Sharma 2/21)