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HYDERABAD: Indian batsman Abhishek Sharma smashed 66 as Sunrisers Hyderabad kept their hopes alive for a top-two finish in the IPL league stage with a four-wicket win over Punjab Kings on Sunday.

Chasing 215 for victory, Hyderabad, who are already among the top four teams to have made the play-offs, reached the target with five balls to spare at their home.

The former champions, led by Pat Cummins, have moved to 17 points from 14 matches and will need Rajasthan Royals to lose the second match of the day against toppers Kolkata Knight Riders or a no result in the game to stay in top two.

“We’ve had a lot of fun and played some really great cricket,” said Cummins. “It’s satisfying and exciting (to be in the play-offs).”

The first- and second-placed teams have the advantage of two chances to qualify for the final on May 26 in Chennai.

Left-handed Abhishek, who has been a breakout young Indian star in this edition with 467 runs including three half-centuries, took charge after Travis Head departed for a first-ball duck.

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“He (Abhishek) is amazing. I wouldn’t want to bowl to him,” Cummins said of his team’s player of the match. “It’s scary as he plays with freedom, not only against pacers but also against spinners.”

He reached his 50 in 21 balls and hammered five fours and six sixes in his 28-ball blitz to set up the chase.

Abhishek put on an attacking stand of 72 with Rahul Tripathi, who smashed 33, before Nitish Kumar Reddy and Heinrich Klaasen steadied the innings and hit back.

Klaasen smashed 42 before he got out in the 19th over and Sanvir Singh steered the team home.

Punjab, who exited the play-off race early and extended their wait for a first IPL title, posted 214-5 as Prabhsimran Singh hit 71 off 45 balls to lay the foundations for the total.

Prabhsimran put on a key stand of 54 with South Africa’s Rilee Rossouw, a left-handed batsman who hit 49, to set up the batting attack.

Rossouw kept up the charge after Prabhsimran’s departure in the 15th over as he smashed three fours and four sixes in his 24-ball knock.

Jitesh Sharma, who stood in as captain after England’s Sam Curran returned home after the previous win, steered the team past 200 and ended the innings with two sixes in his unbeaten 32 off 15 balls.

Left-arm medium-pace bowler T. Natarajan stood out with figures of 2-33 in his four overs.

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