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Rashid, Warner send Gujarat packing

Wisden India logo Wisden India 09-04-2017

Rashid Khan justified the Rs 4 crore Sunrisers Hyderabad spent on him during the 2017 Indian Premier League auction with a stellar show to give David Warner’s men their second win on the trot.

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Rashid, the 18-year-old legspinner who became the first player from Afghanistan to feature in the IPL in Hyderabad’s opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier in the week, bowled with precision and set up the defending champions’ nine-wicket win over Gujarat Lions in match six of IPL 10 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal on Sunday (April 9).

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Rashid’s figures of 3 for 19 from four overs and Warner’s shrewd bowling changes meant Gujarat were restricted to 135 for 7 from 20 overs after being asked to bat first.

Hyderabad’s response was typically aggressive as they raced past the lowest score this season with 27 balls to spare. On the back of Warner’s unbeaten 45-ball 76 and Moises Henriques’s 39-ball 52 not out, the hosts reached 140 for 1 from 15.3 overs against an attack which, without Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, clearly lacks bite.

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With Warner’s bludgeoning blows and Henriques’s deft touches en route to their unbeaten 108-run stand still fresh in memory, it’s easy to forget just how adeptly the Hyderabad skipper handled his bowlers after electing to field. A closer look will speak volumes of how the game was won within the first hour and a half of play.

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Knowing well that spin was the way forward on his home surface, Warner started with Bipul Sharma, left-arm orthodox, and a seamer from the other end. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra, the pacemen of choice, did find some assistance, but the pitch didn’t look half demanding with Jason Roy and Brendon McCullum taking their time to settle in.

That changed when Rashid came on in the fifth over. The first four deliveries of his opening over weren’t out of the ordinary but when he did hit the right line and length with his fifth ball, he trapped a sweep-attempting McCullum in front of the stumps with a googly.

He should’ve had two in two as he got Suresh Raina, the Gujarat skipper, to drive at a tossed up googly on off-stump. Much to his dismay, a usually reliable Warner dropped the thick outside edge at first slip, a difficult chance to his right with the ball really travelling.

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In the very next over, Bhuvneshwar got rid of Roy for 31, and Rashid returned to account for the dangerous Aaron Finch with another googly.

Rashid then unleashed a regulation leg-break and struck a confused Raina plumb in front.

Rashid changed ends for his final over and got Dwayne Smith to edge one to Naman Ojha, but a combination of a faint edge, an apprehensive appeal and a vociferous crowd meant Nigel Llong, the umpire, would turn it down.

Capitalising on the reprieve, Smith (37) added 56 for the fifth wicket with Dinesh Karthik (30). But Hyderabad weren’t about to loosen their grip. Bhuvneshwar sent Smith back in the 17th over and Nehra picked up Karthik in the next over. The lower order did its bit but it was never going to be enough. Not against Hyderabad at least.

Gujarat, who lost by ten wickets to Kolkata Knight Riders in their opener despite putting up 183, were all over the place with an all-Indian bowling attack. After Dhawan fell to a low full toss from Praveen Kumar in the fourth over, Warner and Henriques feasted on a spread of short balls throughout their stay.

By the time Gujarat’s bowling had it worked out, the second wicket alliance had the game in the bag.

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