Rayudu’s 100 lifts Chennai to big win over Hyderabad in IPL

PUNE, India (AP) Ambati Rayudu hit his first Twenty20 century and spearheaded Chennai Super Kings to an eight-wicket win over standings leader Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League on Sunday.

Rayudu’s unbeaten 100 off 62 balls against the best bowling attack in the IPL saw Chennai cruise to 180-2 in 19 overs in reply to Hyderabad’s 179-4.

Second-place Chennai is within sight of a place in the playoffs with 16 points from 12 matches.

Hyderabad, which has already qualified for the playoffs with 18 points, relied on half-centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (79) and captain Kane Williamson (51), who lost the toss and was put in to bat.

The 32-year-old Rayudu and Shane Watson (57 off 35) set the tone of Chennai’s easy chase by putting on a 134-run opening wicket stand off 81 balls.

Seamers Sandeep Sharma (1-36) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-38) rarely threatened before both Rayudu and Watson confidently played out spinners Shakib Al Hasan (0-41) and Rashid Khan (0-25).

Watson, who hit five fours and three sixes, was run out while going for a quick single and Suresh Raina (2) also missed out before skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (20 not out) and Rayudu eased out the run-chase.

Rayudu hit seven fours and seven sixes and raised his century when he played Kumar to square leg for a single which also leveled the score.

Dhoni completed Chennai’s double against Hyderabad in the IPL when he ran the winning run off the following delivery.

Rayudu also scored a half-century in Chennai’s four-run win over Hyderabad in their previous meeting.

Earlier, Williamson continued his prolific form in the IPL by smashing his seventh half-century and Dhawan struck 10 fours and three sixes.

The pair shared a 123-run second wicket stand off 75 balls after Alex Hales(2) fell early.

But Chennai made a good recovery in the last four overs, thanks to Dwayne Bravo, who featured in the dismissals of both Dhawan and Williamson off successive balls.

Dhawan scooped a catch to short fine leg off Bravo’s offcutter before the West Indian all-rounder held onto a brilliant two-handed diving catch in the deep off Shardul Thakur (2-32).