Warner blitz takes SRH to final

Warner blitz takes SRH to final
David Warner defied the odds in a one-man show and took Sunrisers Hyderabad from the brink of defeat to the Indian Premier League final in front of the packed Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Friday.

Warner’s unbeaten 93 off 58 balls (11x4, 3x6) revived Sunrisers from a precarious 84/5 to post a four-wicket victory over Gujarat Lions in the second qualifier with four balls to spare. They now meet Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday.

 Sunrisers played to their strength before Aaron Finch struck a whirlwind half century to help Gujarat Lions to a challenging 162/7. Sunrisers’ robust start was pegged back by their poor work on the outfield and costly death overs.

 They looked hopelessly out of contention halfway through the chase, but Warner kept them in the hunt and finally with some lusty hitting from Bipul Sharma, Sunrisers pulled it off with four balls remaining. It took a superb counterattacking knock from Warner to achieve that.

 Opener Shikhar Dhawan was run out for duck while trying to pick a senseless single as Brendon McCullum did a fantastic job in the field. Moises Henriques was settling into a good-looking partnership with Warner but threw it away by recklessly holing out at cover off Dwayne Smith’s first ball. 

Sunrisers hopes now pinned on Yuvraj Singh, who had played a crafty innings against Kolkata Knight Riders. The left-hander, however, was put in a bind by chinaman Shivil Kaushik, who had stepped in place of Shadab Jakati.  He played five dot balls against Kaushik before trying to hit over long off but found Smith there.

Warner fought a lone battle. He didn’t compromise on his attacking flair and peppered the small Kotla grounds with crunchy drives and even took the aerial route whenever needed. But runs had begun to dry up in the middle with overs 6-10 trickling 23.

Regardless, Warner brought up his half century in 35 balls in the 11th overs. But Sunrisers were soon reeling at 83/5 following quick departures of Deepak Hooda and Ben Cutting. Naman Ojha showed some sparks during his 33-run stand with Warner, and even creamed Smith for 19 runs in the 15th over. Things started to look bright for Sunrisers but Bravo struck immediately to removed Ojha.

Warner, though, was not to throw in the towel. The last two overs needed 24 and with Warner in a marauding mood, Sunrisers were in the hunt. He found the company he needed in Sharma, the two were involved in unbeaten 46-run partnership off 3.3 overs for the seventh wicket.

The 19th over of Dwayne Bravo proved to be the decisive as it bled 19 runs and reduced the equation to five runs off six balls. Warner drove Praveen Kumar to cover boundary to equalize before completing the winning runs.

Put into bat, Gujarat Lions were swiftly reduced to 83/5. In an interesting shuffle of batting line-up by Lions, Finch and Dwayne Smith came at No 5 and 6 respectively. Eklavya Dwivedi was promoted to open the batting with McCullum but perished early.

Sunrisers were without their key bowler Mustafizur Rahman who was out with a hamstring injury. His replacement Trent Boult bowled well initially and got the wicket of captain Suresh Raina. Dinesh Karthik raised 44 off 33 balls with McCullum but undid his good work by trying to steal an injudicious single.

Finch immediately forced the pace in the start-stop innings of Lions and was lucky to get a reprieve in the 12th over by Barinder Sran off Bipul. Bipul, however, got consolation by dismissing McCullum a ball later.

Finch with Jadeja then gleaned quick 51 runs for the sixth wicket with Bravo keeping up the tempo to help then put a decent target. But Warner’s determination towered above everything this day.

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