After things looked bleak for a while, David Warner orchestrated a brilliant late comeback along with Bipul Sharma to take SRH into the final of IPL 2016. Earlier in the evening, Gujarat Lions posted 162 on the board, thanks mostly to some fine hitting by Aaron Finch, who scored a brilliant 50.
Sunrisers Hyderabad and Gujarat Lions, who had occupied the top two spots in the league for the best part of the season, locked horns to earn the right to face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday. Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi was the host to the second qualifier, just as it was to the eliminator, and it has been one of the pitches that has assisted spin bowling as the season has grown older.
David Warner won the crucial toss and announced the biggest news of the night—the Fizz wasn’t playing. Mustafizur was replaced by Trent Boult as Warner chose to chase. Raina did not make much fuss of the lost toss and concentrated on “playing good cricket”. Shivil Kaushik was included for the out-of-form Shadab Jakati.
1. Gujarat’s opening puzzle
Gujarat Lions have three explosive opening batsmen among their ranks - Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, and Dwayne Smith. However when the Gujarat batsmen came out, it was Eklavya Dwivedi who walked out to the centre. Lots of eyebrows were raised, and eyeballs rolled. The UP batsman was sent with a message, and he made his ideas clear when he walked out to hit a boundary off Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the fourth ball of the innings. But that did not last long as Bhuvi dimissed him 2 balls later. What was even more surprising was that neither Aaron Finch nor Dwayne Smith came out to bat till the fall of a further two wickets. It was mindboggling to say the least. But it somehow worked out later on in the innings.
2. A tale of two halves in the first innings—Finch makes the difference
Gujarat Lions’ weird batting order started to seem even more baffling as they kept throwing away wickets, and soon went from 63/2 to 83/5 having lost most of their batting A-listers. Wickets kept tumbling left, right, and centre. There was still Aaron Finch in the middle though, and with the run-rate loitering just above 6, the Australian chose to up the gears. Compatriot Moises Henriques faced the brunt of Finch’s blade, conceding 17 runs in the 14th over. Gujarat Scored 79 runs in the last 7 overs, and Finch’s half-century, off just 32 balls, set the tone for the late-innings burst. Gujarat posted 162 on the board from a position where even 140 seemed improbable, and Finch was to thank. Of course, the absence of Mustafizur helped as well.
3. Warner shines, but runs out of partners; then comes Bipul Sharma
David Warner has been a man on a mission - second-highest run getter in the tournament and leading the Sunrisers batting weight single-handedly on his shoulders. His shoulders nearly buckled tonight as none of the top-order batsmen could manage to hang around for a partnership to blossom. Consequently, Warner had to curb his attacking instincts and had to prod through with a much more subdued innings for most of the match. Such was the lack of support at the other end that the second-highest SRH run-getter was Bipul Sharma. But what mattered was that Warner stuck to his task and did not throw away his wicket like every other batsman at the other end despite the building pressure. His leadership and responsible knock took Sunrisers within touching distance of the target. With 47 required in the last 5 overs, Naman Ojha departed for the pavilion in the 16th over. In came Bipul Sharma, and played the cameo of the season. The left-hander hit 3 sixes en route to an 11-ball 27 providing the support Warner had been crying out for. The duo safely took SRH past the winning line with 4 balls to spare.
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