You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Electric Warner carries Hyderabad into final

Wisden India logo Wisden India 27-05-2016
© Wisden

All season long, Sunrisers Hyderabad have been served brilliantly by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman. Bhuvneshwar has been more than passable at the top and outstanding at the death, while Mustafizur finished things off beautifully almost every single time. Together, they formed the bedrock around which Hyderabad shaped their Indian Premier League 2016 campaign.

Ahead of easily their most important match of the competition, Qualifier 2 against Gujarat Lions, Hyderabad were dealt an unkind cut when Mustafizur was ruled out with a hamstring niggle. It put David Warner’s carefully crafted plans out of kilter, necessitating Hyderabad to make a personnel change they would so loved to have avoided.

Whether that influenced Warner’s decision on Friday (May 27) night to chase at the Feroze Shah Kotla, a venue where the team batting first had won four of the six previous games this season, is open to debate. What is not, is that Hyderabad sorely missed Mustafizur’s accuracy, parsimony and incisiveness, particularly at the death. While Bhuvneshwar was industrious and effective as ever, Trent Boult unravelled in his first competitive fixture since March 12 to allow Gujarat to mount a late assault.

With Aaron Finch in the forefront and Dwayne Bravo rediscovering late hitting form, Gujarat rallied from a tepid early start to post 162 for 7 – the same score for one wicket less that Hyderabad had managed at the same venue on Wednesday in the Eliminator against Kolkata Knight Riders. Hyderabad had trooped out 22-run winners on that occasion; this time around, they surged home by four wickets, primarily because of the brilliance of Warner’s 93 not out off 58 balls and the exuberance of Bipul Sharma.

Seemingly having left themselves short as Warner kept losing partners, Hyderabad unearthed a hero in Bipul, the unpretentious left-handed allrounder. Having bowled a tidy spell of 3-0-21-1 with his left-arm spin, Bipul wielded the willow with great effect, hammering three towering sixes and doing his part in a pulverising stand of 46 off just 21 deliveries with Warner that rescued a lost cause and set up a final on Sunday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Bipul was 27 not out off 11 at the end, Warner smacked the winning run with four deliveries to spare, and Hyderabad were home and dry. What a finish!

Hyderabad’s chase got off to the worst start possible when Shikhar Dhawan was cleaned up by a direct hit by Brendon McCullum from cover off the seventh delivery of the innings. Dhawan couldn’t have picked a more inopportune time to bring up his first T20 duck in 62 innings, and when Moises Henriques flat-batted a short and wide Dwayne Smith offering to cover, it was time for serious consolidation.

Yuvraj Singh, fresh off Wednesday’s 44, began with a glorious back foot drive over cover off his first ball, but the arrival of spin, first in the form of Suresh Raina and then the unorthodox Shivil Kaushik, threw his game completely off. Even as Warner was teeing off with customary gusto, Yuvraj failed to fathom the chinaman bowler and holed off to long-off as the pendulum perceptibly swung Gujarat’s way.

Gujarat’s bowlers also quickly worked out that taking the pace off the ball would make life even more difficult for batsmen. While Kaushik spun a tantalising web that fetched him 2 for 22, Dwayne Bravo’s assortment of slower ones tied the rest up in knots though Warner took the fight deep with his electric ball-striking and his outstanding running between the wickets.

undefined © IANS Photo undefined

However, Hyderabad’s captain was fast running out of partners. With Deepak Hooda, Ben Cutting and Naman Ojha coming and going with unseemly rapidity, the task was getting more and more difficult. Warner needed someone with common-sense and a sense of purpose to link up with him, and he finally found an ally in the admirable Bipul. Hyderabad began the 15th over needing 66 off 36; the sustained assault from both ends muscled them home, Warner’s unbeaten 93 off 58 deliveries taking him to second on the run-scorers’ chart this season with 779.

Warner’s brilliance clearly shaded an excellent effort from another Aussie. Finch had come into this contest on the back of scores of 4 and 0 in his last two outings, and clearly, he was looking to make amends. He should not have been allowed to carry on beyond 13 but Barinder Sran, obviously distracted by an indecisive Ojha charging and stopping and charging and stopping again, spilled a regulation skier at short fine-leg off Bipul. Finch was then just 13, and beginning to look dangerous with a four and a six off successive Sran deliveries. Making the most of the let-off, he launched a brilliant counter-attack whose full fury was felt by Henriques and Boult.

Sran’s drop was just one of a series of fielding mishaps by a side that had outdone itself in the park against Kolkata. There were misfields galore and general sloppiness as Gujarat picked up every run on offer and more. They needed those runs too, given that Hyderabad had started promisingly with the ball. Gujarat rejigged their opening combination around again by sending out Eklavya Dwivedi to partner McCullum, but that experiment lasted just six deliveries before Bhuvneshwar had his Uttar Pradesh teammate caught at third-man.

Raina came and went in a jiffy, trapped in front by a full Boult delivery that he tried to work to leg, and at 19 for 2, Warner’s decision was beginning to look like a masterstroke. McCullum was a typically busy flurry of scything willow and shuffling feet, but the result didn’t always match the intent. Between bruising boundaries, there were long periods of scorelessness but Dinesh Karthik more than made up with some gorgeous cover-driving during the third-wicket stand of 44 that steadied the ship.

Wonderful athleticism from Boult at third-man – one of the few bright spot for Hyderabad on the field, matched only by Cutting’s brilliance at deep midwicket to keep a certain six down to a single – accounted for Karthik and McCullum’s luck ran out when he sliced Bipul to deep cover in the same over in which Finch was put down. When the in-form Smith was gobbled up by Cutting, Gujarat had lost half their side, and most of the big guns, with not too many on the board.

Finch decided to set things right, suddenly going from gear two to overdrive as the boundaries cascaded off his willow. Henriques bled 17 in his third over, Boult was picked off for successive fours and the fifty brought up in just 31 deliveries. With Ravindra Jadeja – whose bowling went unutilised — for intelligent company, 51 were raised for the sixth wicket in just 29 when Cutting struck and brought Bravo to the middle.

In his last eight hits, Bravo had managed just 45 runs; in just 10 deliveries, he hammered four fours including three in one Boult over to build on the impetus provided by Finch. The masters of the death were eventually mastered as Hyderabad leaked 53 in the last five, and 95 in the second half of the innings. It could have proved decisive, but with Warner in the mood and Bipul flexing his muscles, Hyderabad lived to fight another day.

More from Wisden India

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon