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Dominant Hyderabad crush sub-par Gujarat

Wisden India logo Wisden India 21-04-2016

Mustafizur Rahman is at a place in his career where Bhuvneshwar Kumar was when he made his India debut in 2012. There was a general buzz around Bhuvneshwar’s natural ability to procure swing back then, but what separates Rahman is his pace and a wide range of variations. The Bangladeshi left-arm seamer is a more complete bowler than Bhuvneshwar was after one year of international cricket.

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The duo came together to produce a high quality display of seam bowling and set up Sunrisers Hyderabad’s ten-wicket win over Gujarat Lions in an Indian Premier League game at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday (April 21). They returned combined figures of 8-0-48-5 and kept Gujarat, who had won their first three matches, down to 135 for 8 on a slowish surface. David Warner (74) and Shikhar Dhawan (53) then put on an unbroken stand of 137 runs in 14.5 overs – the highest partnership for the franchise for any wicket – to help Hyderabad record their second consecutive win and go to the fourth position on the points table.

Once Warner put Gujarat in, it was always going to be a new challenge for Aaron Finch, who had hit three half-centuries in successful chases. Bhuvneshwar set him up with three inswingers on and outside the offstump and then bowled one on middle stump, which Finch played across the line to and was bowled.

Suresh Raina started his 51-ball 75 knock with a few attractive strokes, including a cracking straight drive off Bhuvneshwar, but the introduction of Rahman in the fourth over gave the first real glimpse of how the innings would shape up. Brendon McCullum looked clueless against an array of cutters pitched at various lengths, as Rahman conceded just two runs.

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By the time Rahman came back for his second spell in the 15th over, Gujarat were 95 for 4, with McCullum, Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo all caught on the legside boundary because of poor shot-execution. Raina, forced to play the waiting game, looked to the newly married Ravindra Jadeja for support, but the local boy was bowled off a fast off-cutter in Rahman’s third over.

Bhuvneshwar tightened the screws from the other end and the last five overs produced only 31 runs. The talking point of that phase of play was the final over bowled by Bhuvneshwar where he had Raina, Akshdeep Nath and Dale Steyn caught to finish with 4 for 29.

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A delight to watch, the Bhuvneshwar-Rahman combine reaffirmed the value of intelligent seamers in a format usually dominated by the bat, even though Gujarat failed to assess the conditions well. Credit should also go to Warner for the way he rotated his bowlers, and asked his spinners to be slower through the air. The consistent pressure created after Barinder Sran went for 24 runs in his first two overs is what eventually made Bhuvneshwar and Rahman look good.

A modest target gave Dhawan the opportunity to find his feet after three back-to-back failures, and he made good use of the chance. That Warner, who had made an unbeaten 90 in the previous win against Mumbai Indians, continued from where he had left made things much easier for Dhawan. By the end of the seventh over, the opening pair had raced to 70 runs, with Warner making 50 of those through some wonderful hitting. By the time Dhawan reached his half-century in the 15th over, only the formalities remained to take the tally of successful chases this season to 14 in 15 games.

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