New Delhi: Unbeaten for the first three games, the high flyers from Rajkot crash landed at their own den after suffering a 10-wicket defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad in their 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Thursday.
Once again, toss played a crucial part with David Warner opting to chase at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium. The skipper marshaled his resources well in the first part of the match to restrict a formidable looking batting line-up to 135/8.
The Aussie, then, returned with his out-of-form opening partner Shikhar Dhawan to chase down the target with 31 balls remaining. In the process, he also became the highest scorer of the season. In their previous match, against defending champions Mumbai Indians, the 29-year-old left handed batsman remained unbeaten on 90, and he carried on that form today. He had scored 58 and 13 in their defeats to Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively.
Today's win is their first 10-wicket in the tournament, which also witnessed another 100-run opening stand between Warner and Dhawan. The duo have achieved the feat four times, a record, with no other partners doing it more than twice.
His knock of 75 runs from 48 balls was only a run shy of match's highest 75 from rival skipper Suresh Raina. And it was third successive fifty in chase for the Australian opener.
Dhawan, who has a score of 8,6 and 2 from the first three match of the season, took some time, but returned with his form back in the groove with a 53-run knock from 41 balls.
Earlier, Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced a brilliant final over to scalp three wickets for match figures of four-for 29 which earned him the man of the match award.
His exploits were ably supported by Mustafizur Rahman, who took a wicket conceding only 19 runs from his four overs spell. The 20-year-old sensation from Bangladesh was instrumental in restricting the Lions innings as he continued to toyed with batsmen in crucial moments of the game.
In a brilliant team bowling display, three other Hyderabad bowlers also took wickets. Unheralded spinner Deepak Hooda bowled three overs and managed to get the wicket of Dinesh Karthik, who once again failed to perform with the bat.
For the hosts, skipper Raina held the innings together after losing their in-form Aaron Finch in the first over itself. But his 51-ball innings was not enough as they could post only 135 runs. In the process, the left-handed batsman became the fifth batsman to reach 6000 T20 runs.
Finch, who had scored three fifties in the previous three matches, was bowled by an in-swinging beauty from Bhuvneshwar in the first over itself to provide a good start to the fielding team. After Finch's departure, a half-century second-wicket stand between skipper Raina and dangerous McCullum seemed to have pushed the Lions towards a big total, but wickets at regular intervals put brakes from time to time.
After the departure of the Kiwi legend, which was followed by a quick exit from Karthik, Dwayne Bravo tried to give company to Raina. But the West Indies all-rounder also failed at a crucial time, falling to Barinder Sran at the start of 14th over.
A disciplined bowling performance towards the end of the innings killed off any possible fight back even as Raina stood alone, amidst the pile of wickets.
Brendon McCullum was the second highest scorer with 18 runs. And it pretty much summed up the plight of the batting at home.
The defence to the paltry total started in awful fashion with Dale Steyn and Praveen Kumar succumbing to the onslaught from Warner. With the seasoned pros out of the attack, Sunrisers milked the remaining bowlers and at a good pace.
Steyn, who replaced James Faulkner in the playing XI was used for two overs only, just like Kumar.
Skipper Raina brought Bravo early, as early as the fifth over, in search of a breakthrough. By the end of power-play overs, Sunrisers have posted 63 runs.
Raina, somehow, failed to utilised his best resources. Dhawal Kulkarni, who did well in the previous match, was introduced late. And he could have also brought in Ravindra Jadeja much earlier, even before himself.
Not a single bowler looked capable of taking wickets, and all seven bowlers Raina used today conceded more than seven an over.