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Yuvraj, bowlers open Hyderabad campaign with win

Wisden India logo Wisden India 06-04-2017
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The first match of the Indian Premier League has often been about big numbers. The tenth season, too, began with Sunrisers Hyderabad registering 207 for 4 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. In response, Bangalore were bowled out for 172 to suffer a 35-run loss on Wednesday (April 5) night.

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Quick-fire half-centuries from Yuvraj Singh and Moises Henriques, followed by a clinical bowling performance, helped the defending champions seal the confidence-boosting victory at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal.

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The stats were against the visiting side from the beginning of the chase: In the past, teams had chased down 200-plus targets only twice in six attempts at this venue.

Plagued by injuries, Bangalore’s batting attack, without the services of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan, wilted under the pressure once the explosive opening stand between Chris Gayle (32 off 21) and Mandeep Singh (24 off 16) was broken.

Mandeep found the fence five times before his cameo was nipped in the bud in the seventh over by Rashid Khan, the first cricketer from Afghanistan in the IPL. Playing for the regulation legspinner, Mandeep inside-edged a straight delivery onto his leg stump to give Rashid the first of his two wickets on the night.

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Five balls later, Gayle, who hit two boundaries and three towering sixes during his knock, gave Warner a simple catch at long off in his attempt to earn another big six.

Travis Head (30 off 22), Kedar Jadhav (31 off 16) and Watson (22 off 17) tried to put the chase back on track, but in the end, regular fall of wickets and the lack of significant partnerships hurt their chase.

Rashid (2 for 36) and Ashish Nehra (2 for 42) led the charge with the ball, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda and Bipul Sharma taking one wicket each.

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Earlier, electing to field, Bangalore struck early with the wicket of Warner, Hyderabad’s highest run-aggregator last year, but couldn’t capitalise. After a quiet start, Hyderabad broke the shackles via Shikhar Dhawan, who hit four boundaries off Watson’s first over, the sixth of the innings, to open the floodgates. From then on, Moises Henriques and Dhawan kept the momentum going, racking up 74 runs off 53 balls in their brisk second-wicket partnership.

As many as 51 runs came between the fifth and the ninth over, but Bangalore put a temporary break on the scoring rate, which led to Dhawan attempting a big shot off Stuart Binny over long on and getting caught by Sachin Baby near the ropes. Dhawan’s knock of 40 off 31 included five boundaries.

Dhawan’s exit brought Henriques and Yuvraj together, with the scoreboard reading 93 for 2 in the 11th over. Right from his first touch, Yuvraj showed signs of brilliance, timing the ball well to get a few singles before opening his arms for the big shots.

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Henriques, who was the aggressor till Yuvraj came in, happily took the backseat as the veteran switched gears to script a fantastic knock. As many as seven boundaries and three sixes came off Yuvraj’s bat, and it completely took the sting out of Bangalore’s efforts.

Henriques scored 52 off 37 deliveries, his knock studded with three fours and two sixes, while Yuvraj finished with 62 off 27 to put Hyderabad in a great position. Deepak Hooda (16 off 12) and Ben Cutting (16 off 6) made sure the hosts finished with a blitz, and took them over the 200-run mark to grab the psychological edge.

Five out of seven bowlers used by Watson, including himself, went for over 10 runs an over. To add to Bangalore’s miseries, fielding lapses and stray throws cost them extra runs, as well as a couple of wickets.

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