Sunrisers Hyderabad snatched the last-available play-offs berth with a tense five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders and in the process knocked Royal Challengers Bangalore out of the Pepsi Indian Premier League in Uppal on Sunday.
Chasing 131 in their must-win match, Hyderabad overhauled the target with seven balls to spare, taking their points tally to 20 which placed them fourth in the table.
Hyderabad were cruising at one stage but lost wickets in cluster to make heavy weather of the chase. However, Darren Sammy (17 off 12) smashed two consecutive sixes off Iqbal Abdulla in the penultimate over to steer the side home.
They displaced Bangalore (18) from the fourth spot and set up Wednesday's Eliminator match against Rajasthan Royals.
Hyderabad exploited the conditions well to restrict Kolkata Knight Riders to a modest 130 for seven. Stroke-making was difficult on the slow Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium wicket and the hosts bowlers, specially the spinners dominated the proceedings.
Yusuf Pathan with his calculative 49 run knock off 29 balls gave Kolkata something to fight for after electing to bat. Jacques Kallis (24) was the other notable contributor.
Hyderabad's chase began in the right earnest with Parthiv Patel (47) and Shikhar Dhawan (42) batting fearlessly. They attacked intelligently and set up the win with their 89-run opening stand.
It was diminutive Patel, who started the fireworks and later Dhawan joined the party. They did not spare a single bowler as they cut, pulled and drove elegantly.
In no time, Hyderabad were within the striking distance of a cherishable win. Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla broke the opening stand when he trapped Dhawan and the batsman must be cursing his shot selection as he attempted a reverse sweep, missed, and was caught plumb.
However, Dhawan had played his part with his 35-ball knock laced with three fours and two shots over the fence. Hyderabad though made heavy weather of the chase by losing three wickets in 12 balls. Patel became second victim of Abdulla, skipper Cameron White was run out needlessly and Hamuma Vihari too was dismissed by Abdulla.
Suddenly, Hyderabad were struggling and Shami Ahmed sent shock-waves in the home camp when he bowled Thisara Perera.
The hosts needed 19 from 13 balls at that stage and Sammy did the job for them.
Earlier, leg-spinning combo of Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma, who extracted some sharp turn off the wicket, stifled the KKR innings in the middle overs as they gave away just 20 and 15 runs respectively and accounted for one batsman each.
Pacers Dale Steyn (2-24) and Anand Rajan (1-22) were terrific upfront as they straight-jacketed the Kolkata openers with good control over line and length.
The pressure created by Styen and Rajan beneffited Thisara Perera as in his attempt to break free, Manvinder Bisla pulled one off Sri Lankan but managed a top edge, which landed in the hands of skipper Cameron White at short-cover.
Anand could have got Gambhir had White held on to a touch chance in the cover region. Gambhir slashed that one hard but White got his finger tips on that. He was on 8 at that time.
However, he could not cash in on the chance and was run out a few balls later following a mix up with Jacques Kallis. Not only the pacemen but Hyderabad's spinners too tested the rival batsmen. Both Mishra and Sharma bowled probing line and had Morgan and Kallis in a fix.
At half way mark, KKR were 56 for two. Getting runs was hard work on the slow wicket and Sharma piled on KKR's agony by trapping Morgan (9).
Kallis gathered a few runs by running hard between the wickets but could never provide the innings momentum. He departed in the 16th over even as Pathan was trying hard to get some quick runs from the other end.
Pathan hit first six off the innings when he lofted Perera over his head and then stunned the crowd by smashing one off Steyn into the mid-wicket stands.