Big-money Aussies ready to do battle amid IPL playoffs

Ian ChadbandAAP
Australian pace-bowling duo Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins are set to clash in the IPL playoffs. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconAustralian pace-bowling duo Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins are set to clash in the IPL playoffs. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Pat Cummins has overseen one last group-stage win for his Sunrisers Hyderabad charges - and it's enough to set up an IPL playoffs head-to-head between the Australian captain and fellow mega-rupee signing Mitchell Starc.

Cummins' team sealed a four-wicket win over Punjab Kings on Sunday in front of their own Hyderabad fans to ensure they finished second in the table.

It meant they will play Starc's Kolkata Knight Riders, the league's top team in the group stages, in Tuesday's opening finals match in Ahmedabad, with the winners guaranteed a place in next Sunday's final.

The defeated side will still get a second chance in an effective semi-final on Friday against the winners of Wednesday's eliminator between third-placed Rajasthan Royals and fourth-placed Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

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But Cummins is beguiled by the prospect of Tuesday's clash against his fast-bowling buddy, with a direct route to the tournament showdown in Chennai an irresistible prize.

Between them, Cummins ($3.67 million) and Starc (a record $4.43 million) were sold for eye-watering figures in the IPL auction. Now's the time to really show why they were worth the money.

"I haven't played in the IPL finals before. It's satisfying and exciting," reckoned Cummins, whose side finally sealed the No.2 seeding when the day's other match between Kolkata and Rajasthan was washed out.

"That's a shame," Cummins had grinned when he had learned of the weather in Guwahati, knowing it would ensure Sunrisers would avoid the eliminator.

Hyderabad prevailed on Sunday despite a rare failure for Travis Head, who's dazzled all tournament only to end the group stage with a golden duck, clean bowled by a beauty from Arshdeep Singh.

Even so, it couldn't stop the hosts chasing down Punjab's formidable 5-214, which was centred on a 45-ball 71 from Prabhsimran Singh, as Head's partner-in-mayhem Abhishek Sharma led the way, clouting 66 off 28 balls, with five fours and six sixes.

It was Sharma's third quickfire half-century of the season, coming off only 21 balls.

Amazingly, Sharma (467) and Head (533) have crushed exactly 1000 runs between them at a rate of more than two runs per ball.

There'll be plenty of Australian interest too in the eliminator with Cameron Green and a resurgent Glenn Maxwell ready to propel RCB past the Royals after winning six matches on the trot.

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