New Delhi: Shikhar Dhawan played a pivotal innings to anchor Sunrisers Hyderabad to a five-wicket win over Gujarat Lions in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday.
After restricting a strong batting side GL for 126/6, thanks to an impressive display of seam bowling, a tenacious Dhawan hung on to guide the Sunrisers to their fifth win in eight games.
His unbeaten 47 off 40 balls was a typical opener's knock, with Hyderabad chase revolving around his innings. After a good start to the chase with skipper David Warner, the batsman from Delhi batted with Kane Williamson, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda and Naman Ojha.
The build-up to the match was dominated by the return of Yuvraj Singh, making his IPL debut for the Hyderabad franchise. But his first game of IPL 2016 was a forgettable one.
The start to the match however witnessed a swarm of insects occupying the playing field, and at one point, players and umpires seemed to struggle to cope with the invaders.
Hosts' new ball bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra were brilliant. They recorded first ever two maiden over starts in any IPL match. And with wickets falling at regular intervals, and insects strewn around, the match looked heading for a quick end.
But Aaron Finch played a great innings, and remained unbeaten on 51 off 42 balls. He along with Suresh Raina (20 off 10), and cameos from Ravindra Jadeja (18 off 13) helped the innings to a fighting total.
Even then, with Finch beginning the chase in his usual attacking mode, 127-run target was never going to be enough. Luckily for the Lions, the Aussie opener got out early, which in a way, prolonged the inevitable.
Praveen Kumar (1 for 28) bowled well until the last over. But it was Dhawal Kulkarni, who made a fight out of the match with his 2 for 17 from four overs, which also included a wicket-maiden.
Dwayne Bravo also bowled well for his 2 for 14 from three overs.
But the bowling stars of the match were MoM Bhuvi for his 1 for 28, and Mustafizur Rahman, for his 2 for 17.
With the win, Hyderabad have moved closer to top three. They have 10 points, while Lions remained at second place with 12 points, but they have played two extra games.