David Warner’s third half-century of the season paved the way for Sunrisers Hyderabad’s ten-wicket win over Gujarat Lions in Rajkot. Warner, who slammed 74 off 48 balls, combined with Shikhar Dhawan, who struck a fifty of his own, for an unbroken 137-run opening partnership after his bowlers, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 4 for 29, kept Lions to 135 for 8.
Warner began the chase with two fours off Dale Steyn, who was playing his first match of the IPL, and kicked into high gear with three fours off Praveen Kumar in the fourth over. Spin didn’t stem the run-flow either as Warner cut and pulled Suresh Raina to the boundary. The Sunrisers captain brought up his half-century in 29 balls, by which time his team needed less than run-a-ball for victory.
Dhawan, at the other end, took the opportunity to bide his time and recover some of his form. He wasn’t always fluent, but a paddle sweep off Dwayne Bravo in the 12th over changed that. At one point 25 off 24, Dhawan completed his half-century in 40 balls and though he didn’t indulge in much celebration, he had to a couple of balls later. Warner had sealed a victory with 31 balls to spare and the time was ripe for a twirl of the ‘tache.
That Lions were tied down, despite Raina’s 75 off 51, was down to Bhuvneshwar. He swung the new ball handsomely, as Aaron Finch found out in the first over when his stumps were splayed by an indipper, and when he couldn’t get movement through the air, his mixture of slower balls were difficult to line-up. Bhuvneshwar took three wickets in the final over of the Lions’ innings, including Raina’s, to cap Sunrisers’ strong comeback.
Bhuvneshwar was helped by Mustafizur Rahman who flummoxed Lions with cutters of varying pace. Mustafizur gave away only one four and returned figures of 1 for 19, keeping his place as Sunrisers’ most economical bowler. Deepak Hooda, Bipul Sharma and Moises Henriques rallied around the pair with combined figures of 8-0-49-2.
Gujarat Lions, though, had raced to 50 for 1 in the Powerplay, after being sent in on a surface with a smattering of grass. Raina eased his way back to form, scoring his first T20 fifty in 31 innings. On display were his typical shots: the on-the-knee lofted drives, cover drives and wristy flick off the pads. McCullum, who was on 3 off 8 balls at one point, overcame the slow start and kept him good company in a 56-run stand for the second wicket before he holed out to deep midwicket. Wickets continued to fall around Raina and Bhuvneshwar’s triple strike completed a collapse of 7 for 61. There was no way back for Gujarat Lions and they ultimately slipped to their first defeat.