Sunrisers off to flying start

Yuvraj, Henriques hammer half-centuries as champions outclass Challengers

Sunrisers off to flying start

Sunrisers Hyderabad began their title defence in style, thumping Royal Challengers Bangalore by 35 runs in the inaugural match of the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium on Wednesday.
A sizzling half-century from Yuvraj Singh (62, 27b, 7x4, 3x6) and composed knocks from Moises Henriques (52, 37b, 3x4, 2x6) and Shikhar Dhawan (40) saw the Sunrisers finish at a strong 207 for four after being put into bat.

Against the best bowling attack in the league, RCB stared at an uphill task. But an explosive start from Chris Gayle (32) and Mandeep Singh (24) put them on course nicely. Even after they departed in successive overs, smart batting from Travis Head (30) and Kedar Jadhav (31) saw the Challengers maintain the required run-rate.

Hyderabad needed a stroke of brilliance and it arrived from Ben Cutting, who hit the stumps with a superb throw from deep square leg to end Jadhav’s stay and RCB never recovered from the jolt, eventually folding for 172 in 19.4 overs.

RCB’s familiar bowling woes hurt them again. The pacers consistently bowled short, giving ample opportunities for the Sunrisers’ batsmen to score freely. The Challengers gave away extra runs through their sloppy fielding as well.
  
While Yuvraj was the star on the batting front, Rashid Khan enjoyed a memorable debut to finish as the best bowler for the Sunrisers. The leg-spinner got the decisive wickets of Mandeep and Head to finish with figures of 2/36 in four overs.

Earlier, David Warner (14), in his quest to regain his form, started well with two fours and a six. However, Aniketh Choudhary extended Warner’s miserable run by forcing him to play a half-hearted stroke straight to point in the second over.

The early setback didn’t unsettle the hosts as Dhawan and Henriques played sensibly to frustrate the visitors. Both the batsmen took complete advantage of RCB’s uninspired bowling effort. Dhawan cut loose in the sixth over, slamming four fours off stand-in skipper Shane Watson. The duo posted a fifty-run stand in 36 balls with Dhawan being the aggressor.

At the half-way stage, the Sunrisers were sitting pretty at 88 for one with Dhawan looking dangerous. The introduction of Stuart Binny brought some luck for RCB as he removed Dhawan, who fell for 40 (30b), while attempting to heave one over long on. The hosts were still going with a healthy run-rate thanks to the 74-run partnership between Dhawan and Henriques. The platform was nicely set for Yuvraj to play his natural game and the veteran stepped up in style. The elegant left-hander looked in total control right from the start.

RCB had a chance to stop Yuvraj’s charge in the 13th over but S Arvind put down a straightforward chance at deep square leg off Choudhary.

Yuvraj, who was on 26 when he received the reprieve, didn’t look back. With the trademark front foot pulls and stylish drives, Yuvraj tore the RCB attack apart with ease. The left-hander rolled the years back with a half-century that came of just 23 balls.

Yuvraj and Henriques fell at the fag end of the innings but Ben Cuttings (16) and Deepak Hooda (16) made sure the hosts crossed the 200-run mark.

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