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HYDERABAD: A fantastic victory from a hopeless position allowed Sunrisers Hyderabad to stay well and alive in the Indian Premier League and emerge as genuine contenders for a place in the last-four in the seasonal skirmish.
Sunrisers first resurrected themselves from a precarious 5/3 to post a challenging 136/9 on a slow pitch, and followed it up with a brilliant show in the field as they restricted the controversy-hit and master chasers, Rajasthan Royals, to 113/9 in the chase.
This means Sunrisers are now No.4 with 18 points, Kings XI Punjab are out of contention, and Royal Challengers Bangalore have to win their last match against Chennai Super Kings to have any hope of finishing as the fourth-placed team.
On Friday, if it was Biplab Samantray who came to the fore with the bat with a responsible 55, almost all Sunrisers bowlers excelled: Dale Steyn was a terror up front, Amit Mishra was super economical and picked up a couple; while Thisara Perera scalped two in a over - including Shane Watson - to scupper with finality the Royals' pursuit.
Royals looked on course at 33/0 after six, with Rahul Dravid resolute and Ajinkya Rahane wary. But a series of tight overs from Darren Sammy, Ishant Sharma and Mishra led to the skipper being run-out as he tried to cash in on a misfield. Rahane sliced leggie Karan Sharma to cover for the second wicket, as the run-rate commenced its steep ascent.
This season's find, Sanju Samson, lost his poise and was caught off Mishra with 86 needed from 48 balls, and the exercise effectively ended when Perera removed Watson and Stuart Binny in the same over, the supreme chasing side finding the required rate impossible to meet.
Cameron White was earlier quite forthright in his decision to bat, which begs one to wonder where the resolve dissipated to once the batsmen trooped in - and promptly out - leaving Sunrisers reeling at 5/3 after Faulkner struck twice in an over. The left-arm paceman first got Parthiv Patel to play on, and then induced the in-form Shikhar Dhawan to hit straight into the hands of point.
White casually pulled the first ball he faced, of Shane Watson, to Siddharth Trivedi at fine-leg as Hyderabad crawled to 21/3 at the end of the Powerplay: the joint lowest tally this season.
The fate of the home team now rested on their local boys, Hanuma Vihari and Biplab Samantray.
Mixing caution with streaks of watchful aggression, the pair took the score to 48/3 at the halfway mark, when Siddharth Trivedi ended the 44-run association. Vihari's attempted flick was botched by lack of pace on the ball, and the soaring leading edge taken comfortably by Sachin Baby.
Samantray, meanwhile, had ticked along productively, pasting Cooper for six over mid-wicket and reaching his maiden IPL half-century in 43 balls. Darren Sammy then displayed his much-needed skills of accelaration.
The West Indian drove Kevon Cooper hazardously past the bowler's head, before bringing up the team hundred with a savage pulled maximum off Watson.
Faulker returned to great success. His third wicket - Sammy, holed out to long-off - also brought him the Purple Cap with 24 scalps from 14 games. The Aussie speedster added two more - Samantray and Steyn - finishing with five for 16, the best figures of the season, but not enough to prevent Hyderabad from getting 46 from their last five overs.