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Thrifty bowlers, Dhawan steer Hyderabad to fourth

Wisden India logo Wisden India 06-05-2016

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra bowled two consecutive maiden overs at the start of the Gujarat Lions innings – a first in the history of the Indian Premier League – at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal on Friday (May 6) and set the tempo for a five-wicket win for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

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Bhuvneshwar, Nehra, Mustafizur Rahman and Barinder Sran fed off one other’s strengths to produce high quality swing and seam bowling on a two-paced pitch, where a surfeit of insects because of an overnight shower made conditions difficult. The bowlers restricted Gujarat to 126 for 6 after David Warner won the toss. And despite the bugs, a smallish target never challenged Hyderabad.

They lost Warner and Kane Williamson early in the chase and wobbled a bit later, but Shikhar Dhawan’s composed unbeaten 47 completed the job in 19 overs and took them to the fourth position on the points table.

Once Bhuvneshwar and Nehra bowled 13 dot balls on the trot to Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum – one of the most destructive opening pairs in the competition – the pressure resulted in a procession of wickets for Gujarat.

Smith guided Bhuvneshwar’s outswinger straight to the short third-man fielder in the third over, and Suresh Raina, who tried to up the tempo with two sixes and a four, checked his shot for Bhuvneshwar to accept an easy return catch. Williamson’s fabulous one-handed catch to his left at backward point sent Dinesh Karthik back, as Mustafizur struck yet again in the first over of his spell. An impatient McCullum, dropped off Mustafizur’s first ball, tried to break the shackles only for Warner to take a sharp catch at long-off in Henriques’s first over.

From 34 for 4 in 7.4 overs, Gujarat needed the 45-run stand between Aaron Finch and Dwayne Bravo, the third overseas player after AB de Villiers and Kieron Pollard to make 100 IPL appearances, to restore parity.

Just as the duo looked to shift gears, Warner brought in Mustafizur in the 14th over and he conceded one run. The pressure resulted in Bravo heaving the first ball off Sran in the subsequent over to midwicket where a running Vijay Shankar, the substitute, pulled off another brilliant catch inches from the boundary.

Finch, dropped on 30 by Warner, reached his season’s fourth half-century in the last ball of the innings, but by bowling 49 dot balls, Hyderabad always had things under control.

Warner’s two sixes off Pradeep Sangwan in the second over got Hyderabad’s chase started, but Dhawal Kulkarni struck with his first ball when Warner mistimed a shot to be caught at mid-on. Soon after, Williamson was caught at short cover.

Henriques, Yuvraj Singh – who was making his franchise debut – and Deepak Hooda had partnerships of 22, 26 and 27 respectively with Dhawan, but couldn’t build on starts. That made Dhawan’s effort more significant.

Despite being denied the strike for the majority of the Power Play overs, Dhawan never lost his cool. He entered double-digits only in the 11th over when he cut Shivil Kaushik to the backward point fence, and then completely shifted the momentum in Hyderabad’s favour with back-to-back fours off Sangwan in the 13th over.

When Naman Ojha joined Dhawan, Hyderabad needed 19 off 16 balls; they took just ten of those balls to hand Gujarat a hat-trick of losses.

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