Indian T20 League: Punjab edge out Hyderabad in last-ball thriller

Nathan Ellis held his nerve to help Punjab avoid a second consecutive heartbreaking defeat in the Indian T20 League. The 27-year-old, making his debut, defended seven runs off the final ball to seal a fourth win for Punjab this season. The victory lifted the Mohali-based outfit to fifth in the table. Meanwhile, Hyderabad suffered their eighth defeat and is on the brink of missing out on the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history.

Jason Holder, who took three wickets and remained unbeaten on 47*, will be disappointed that he couldn’t guide his team towards two points. Young spinner Ravi Bishnoi justified his inclusion with three crucial breakthroughs. Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh, too, played a pivotal role in Punjab’s narrow win.

A slow surface

With the pitch predicted to pose a tough challenge for batters, Kane Williamson chose to bowl first after winning the toss. Punjab, who left out Adil Rashid, Fabian Allen, and Ishan Porel, handed Ellis his first cap and included Chris Gayle and Bishnoi in the playing 11. KL Rahul gave Punjab a brisk start. However, Holder claimed the wickets of both the openers in his first over. Rahul and Agarwal gave simple catches to Jagadeesha Suchith and Williamson, respectively.

The Punjab batting unit endured a boundary drought. Aiden Markram, dropped by David Warner on 3, smashed a full-toss through the gap for Punjab’s first boundary in 31 balls. The scorecard read 55/2 at the halfway point.

Low-order to the rescue

Hyderabad seized control of the match with the wickets of Gayle and Nicholas Pooran in quick succession. Rashid Khan trapped the ‘Universe Boss’ in front of stumps. Gayle sought DRS’ assistance, but it was umpire’s call. Pooran perished in typical fashion. He took singles from his first two balls, hammered Sandeep Sharma for a six, and gave him a returning catch in the fourth ball.

Markram kept the scorecard ticking. He scored a boundary off Khaleel Ahmed and moved into 20s. The Proteas batsman went back to the dressing room after he sent a full-toss straight into the hands of Manish Pandey at long-off. Holder piled misery on Punjab by removing Deepak Hooda in the 16th over. The substitute fielder Suchith took a sensational one-handed catch.

Harpreet Brar and Ellis added a valuable 22-run stand for the seventh wicket to help Punjab post 125 in 20 overs. The Aussie managed to clear the ropes off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the final over. Brar remained unbeaten on 18.

Bishnoi returns in style

The run chase got off to a terrible start as Warner and Williamson departed for just 1. Shami claimed both wickets as Warner got a faint edge while trying to slash the ball, while the Hyderabad skipper chopped the ball onto the stumps. Wriddhiman Saha and Pandey struggled to rotate the strike and added just 20 runs in the powerplay.

Bishnoi broke the 22-run stand after rattling the stumps of Pandey, who scored just 13 off 23 balls. He also struck twice in his third over to leave Hyderabad’s run chase in tatters. The 20-year-old sent Kedar Jadhav and Abdul Samad packing. Jadhav saw his attempted late cut crashing onto the stumps, while Samad’s mistimed wild slog went to Gayle at third man.

Holder’s solo effort

At 60/5 in 13 overs, it looked like a daunting task for Hyderabad. However, Holder and Saha had other ideas. Three sixes in four balls by Holder put the pressure back on Punjab. The West Indies all-rounder hammered a six in Bishnoi’s last over and hit back-to-back sixes off Ellis. Hyderabad needed 35 from 24 balls.

A confusion between Holder and Saha resulted in the former losing his wicket. Arshdeep, off his bowling, chased the ball and produced a perfect throw at the non-striker’s end to run out Saha. Hyderabad managed five runs from the 17th over. Holder hit a maximum in Shami’s final over and kept their hopes alive. They needed another 21 off 12 balls.

Arshdeep put Punjab in the driving seat with a terrific 19th over. He dismissed Rashid and gave away just four runs. It left Hyderabad needing 17 off the final six balls with Bhuvneshwar on strike.

The pacer took a single off Ellis’ first ball. Holder put him under pressure by hammering a six to long-on. But Ellis bounced back with successive dot balls. He bowled a wide, while Hyderabad ran two in the fifth ball. Holder could hit the final delivery – a low full-toss – only as far as the long-on. Smiles returned at the Punjab dug-out as they registered their first win in the UAE leg.

Punjab 125/7 in 20 overs (A Markram 27, K L Rahul 21; J Holder 3/19)

Hyderabad 120/7 in 20 overs (J Holder 47*, W Saha 31; R Bishnoi 3/24)

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