An exceptional bowling performance was the highlight of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s win over the Gujarat Lions on Friday. After opting to field first, SRH strangled the visitors upfront, demolished their top-order in quick time and eventually restricted them to a modest 126-6. When it was their turn to bat, SRH stumbled on a few occasions, but Shikhar Dhawan applied well and his responsible knock took them over the line with an over to spare. SRH won by 5 wickets and as a result climbed into the top half of the table.
The Gujarat Lions, who began the competition with three consecutive wins, must be concerned that they’ve caught on to some sort of a poor habit. After poor starts in their last two matches cost them the game, the Lions were off to a slippery start once again. Their formidable opening pair of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCulum failed to get a run in the first couple of overs. In the third over, Smith threw his bat at a wide one from Bhuvneshwar Kumar only to hit it straight down the throat of the fielder at short thirdman. One-drop Suresh Raina hit a couple of lusty blows in his 10-ball 20 before he offered Bhuvneshwar Kumar a return catch. Dinesh Karthik was sent packing by a sensational catch by Kane Williamson at point.
An uncharacteristic McCullum innings came to an end when the batsman attempted to break the shackles, but found David Warner patrolling the long off boundary. McCullum dismissed for 7 (19 balls) and the Lions were reduced to 34-4 in the eighth over.
Dwayne Bravo, in the company of Aaron Finch, arrested the slip briefly, adding 45 runs in 6.3 overs. At the start of the 15th over, Bravo’s innings was cut short by a sharp catch on the boundary by the substitute fielder Vijay Shankar. Finch stood tall amidst all the damage at the other end and batted through to the end; he hit three boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 51 (42 balls). The Lions finished their 20 overs at 126-6; they added 26, 59 and 41 runs in the three stages of the innings. There were only eight boundaries and three sixes hit in the entire innings.
For the home side, the bowlers brought their A-game to the park once again and were unplayable at times. Making use of the sticky and two-paced surface – caused by showers on the eve of the match, the SRH bowlers made stroke-making difficult for the visitors. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra began with maidens and the rest of the attack sustained the pressure. The fielders supported them well in the field – though David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan put down straightforward chances, including one of Finch when he was on 30. Mustafizur Rahman and Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up two wickets each, while Barinder Sran and Moises Henriques shared a wicket apiece.
In pursuit of 127, the SRH captain David Warner helped his team off a brisk start scoring 24 in three overs. But at the start of the fourth over, he attempted to pull a short delivery but the ball came off the toe of the bat and carried head high to Praveen Kumar at mid on. Then came the mid-innings stutter, with Kane Williamson, Moises Henriques, the returning Yuvraj Singh and Deepak Hooda falling cheaply.
All this while, Dhawan was left to be a spectator at the other end. The left-hander didn’t get too much of the strike; he faced only six balls in the first six overs, and had batted only 15 balls at the halfway stage. But he opened up at just the right time. In the 11th over, he struck his first boundary – late cutting a ball from Shivil Kaushik. In the 13th over, he targeted the pacer Pradeep Sangwan and hit him for consecutive boundaries. He picked up a fourth boundary in the 17th over when he on-drove the chinaman bowler to help bring the equation down to 21 runs from 18 balls. Fittingly, Dhawan (47 from 40 balls) scored the winning runs; he creamed a Praveen Kumar delivery through cover to seal the result in favour of his team.
For the visitors, Dhawal Kulkarni (4-1-17-2) was outstanding in helpful conditions, while Bravo picked up two wickets – both off slower deliveries gloved down the leg-side. Praveen returned with figures of 1-28 from his four overs despite conceding 16 runs in his final over. The chinaman bowler Kaushik was economical too, conceding 25 in his four overs.
Gujarat Lions 126-6 in 20.0 Overs (Aaron Finch 51*, Mustafizur Rahman 2-17, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-28) lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad 129-5 in 19.0 Overs (Shikhar Dhawan 47*, Dhawal Kulkarni 2-17, Dwayne Bravo 2-14) by 5 wickets.
Man of the Match: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for his spell of 4-1-28-2.