NEW DELHI:Sunrisers Hyderabad found a finisher in Bipul Sharma, known better for his spin skills. The left-hander matched his left-handed Australian partner, David Warner, and eliminated Gujarat Lions from the Indian Premier League with a stunning four-wicket victory at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Friday.
Warner’s tactical handling of the chase, pacing his innings and marking his bowlers to maul, snatched the match away from Lions which at one stage was sitting pretty with the opposition at 75 for four and then 117 for six. Sunrisers Hyderabad, eying a spot in the final, rallied around Warner, the lone bright spot as the team fumbled through a dark alley. Warner’s 93 off 58 balls and Sharma’s 27 from 11 brought a fitting end to an intense match.
Shikhar Dhawan ran himself out, Moises Henriques drove to cover and Yuvraj Singh to long off. Sunrisers stood ravaged when Ben Cutting fell to a catch at the wicket off Shivil Kaushik in the bowler’s fourth over. Kaushik was later given a parting gift by Warner for six No. 610 of the tournament.
The stands filled up slowly and Gujarat Lions took time to come to terms with the occasion too. Eklavya Dwivedi made no impact and Suresh Raina went cheaply. Sunrisers Hyderabad, having opted to field, showed no signs of missing Mustafizur Rahman, out of action due to a hamstring injury. The pressure exerted on Gujarat Lions told on the batsmen, and the outbreak of injudicious shots only exposed the state of their mind.
They swung wildly and blindly in an effort to establish early domination but Lions did not connect with much until the resurrection happened through Aaron Finch, who took the fight to the opposition. He was on 13 when Barinder Sran dropped a sitter at short fine-leg off left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma as the batsman attempted a slog sweep. Finch gladly accepted the reprieve and took off with some muscular shots, especially on the onside.
The innings prospered to a stage where Lions could think of putting up a front for its bowlers to defend. Dwayne Bravo gave the Lions’ innings a late surge as Sunrisers’ bowling, known for its parsimony in the death overs, suffered at the hands of Finch and Bravo and conceded 53 runs in five overs. Sunrisers also fared poorly in ground fielding with Sran the main culprit.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as usual, commanded respect while Ben Cutting held his own. Trent Boult, however, playing his first match of the tournament, was evidently rusty, going for 39 in four overs. Cutting also was the central character in an astonishing act at deep midwicket when he acrobatically punched the ball back on to the field to save a six even as he took a tumble over the boundary.
Left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma deserved a pat for his brave show. He gave away just 21 runs in three overs and accounted for the wicket of Brendon McCullum at a stage when the New Zealander was threatening to savage the Sunrisers attack. A target of 163 was competitive until Warner, the Man of the Match, decided to alter the trend.