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IPL 2016 Qualifier 2 – SRH vs GL: Warner 93* Leads Sunrisers Into Final
Sunrisers Hyderabad 163 for 6 (Warner 93*, Kaushik 2-22, Bravo 2-32) beat Gujarat Lions 162 for 7 (Finch 50, McCullum 32, Cutting 2-20, Bhuvneshwar 2-27) by four wickets…
An unbeaten 58-ball 93 from David Warner, his eighth half-century of the season, steered Sunrisers Hyderabad into their maiden IPL final. Warner batted through a tense chase of 163 even as Lions chipped away at the wickets, and found a calm lower-order ally in Bipul Sharma at a critical juncture when Sunrisers needed 46 from 25 balls. They won with four wickets in hand.
Bipul has excellent first-class numbers for an allrounder – a batting average of 43.45, a bowling average of 28.98 – and is perhaps more of a batsman than a bowler at that level: he has six hundreds and nine half-centuries in 38 matches, but only 76 wickets and two five-fors.
He has had more opportunity to bowl his left-arm spin rather than bat in his IPL career, though he showed his ball-striking ability in the Eliminator, hitting two clean sixes off Morne Morkel in the final over of Sunrisers’ innings.
Warner wasn’t in a good mood when Bipul came to the crease. He had addressed angry words to Tom Moody, the Sunrisers coach, who had come out with drinks and instructions at the fall of the sixth wicket. Warner was ostensibly displeased with the way Naman Ojha had got out, taking on Dwayne Bravo and picking out the fielder at deep midwicket.
Credits: ESPN CricInfo
Bipul quickly gave Warner reason to trust him, taking the safe but clever option against Praveen Kumar’s yorker, shuffling across to clip into the deep-set leg side field, picking up two twos in three balls in this manner. In between, Praveen bowled a half-volley, and Bipul lofted it for a straight six.
Dhawal Kulkarni began the next over with four wide yorkers, conceding only one run from them. But then, with Sunrisers needing 32 from 14, Bipul walked across his stumps, and scooped a full-toss over the square leg boundary.
Bravo began his final over with figures of 3-0-13-2. He and the left-arm wristspinner Shivil Kaushik had been responsible for a mid-innings slump that had seen Sunrisers go from 61 for 2 in eight overs to 91 for 5 in 13. But now the momentum was with Sunrisers, and Warner confirmed it in the classic T20 manner – an attempted extra-cover loft that ended up streaking to the third man boundary.
Another four from Warner – a surgically placed slap past point that was better representative of his innings – and another big six from Bipul down the ground left Sunrisers needing only five to win off the last over. Warner only needed two balls.
Lions probably knew even before the match that Warner would be their biggest obstacle, and he reinforced that feeling with a boundary off the very first ball of the chase, a sweetly timed clip to the square-leg boundary off Praveen. But Lions soon discovered they didn’t necessarily have to go through Warner to win; they could go around him. The first two wickets were gifts – Shikhar Dhawan went for a silly run in the second over and paid the price; Moises Henriques slapped a short, wide ball straight to cover. Yuvraj Singh tried to hit his way out of the pressure of seven dots in 12 balls, and holed out to long-off.
Bravo, mixing up his pace expertly, and Kaushik, not turning the ball all that much but turning it both ways from a length just beyond the reach of a safe front-foot hit, intensified the pressure on Sunrisers, consuming Deepak Hooda and Ben Cutting in the process. When Ojha came to the crease, Sunrisers needed 79 from 45.
Warner kept Sunrisers in the hunt, swinging the last ball of Kaushik’s spell for a leg-side six and taking heavy toll of the 15th over, bowled by Dwayne Smith, flat-batting a short ball for a six over long-off and squeezing a wide yorker past point for four.
Ojha joined in with a pulled six off the last ball, taking the tally from that over to 19, and bringing the equation down to 47 from 30. A sensational 16th over from Bravo, conceding only two and picking up Ojha’s wicket, seemed to swing it back Lions’ way, but Warner and Bipul had the final word.
Sunrisers suffered a blow even before a ball had been bowled, with Mustafizur Rahman ruled out with a hamstring injury. Trent Boult came into the side and made an immediate impact, catching Eklavya Dwivedi at third man to leave Lions 7 for 1 at the end of the first over. Changing Brendon McCullum’s opening partner had not made any difference to Lions, whose last four opening partnerships had yielded 9, 0, 0 and 2.
Boult then dismissed Suresh Raina in the fourth over, lbw playing across the line, and Lions were 19 for 2. There was little in the pitch to really bother the batsmen, but Lions’ progress was slow, with McCullum playing a strange innings, with a few fierce boundary hits, a number of dots arising from shots hit straight to fielders in the ring, and a general struggle for rhythm.
Dinesh Karthik looked in good touch, piercing the gap between extra cover and mid-off with a sweet drive off Boult and shuffling across to sweep an off-stump ball from Bipul wide of short fine leg. But he was run out immediately after hitting Bipul for six in the ninth over, a Boult direct hit finding him short after a mix-up with McCullum.
When McCullum picked out sweeper cover in the 12th over and fell for a 29-ball 32, Lions were 81 for 4. It became 83 for 5 when Smith slapped Ben Cutting straight to deep point in the next over. Lions were tottering.
But Aaron Finch, demoted to No. 5, was already flowing, having hit Barinder Sran for a four and a massive six over long-off. He plundered two sixes and a four off Moises Henriques in the 14th over to take Lions to 100, and uppercut and drove Boult for successive fours in the 15th.
He fell in the 18th, for 50 off 32, but Bravo carried the momentum forward, beating deep point – first to his right and then to his left – off successive Boult deliveries in the 19th. Lions finished on 162. Sunrisers had defended the same total, on the same ground, in their Eliminator. Lions couldn’t quite give them a taste of their own medicine.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo