Gujarat Lions went into the clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad on a real high, having won their all their previous matches in the tournament. But, they were brought down to earth by Sunrisers Hyderabad, who put up a commanding overall performance to beat the emphatic Lions. The victory was set up the bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular, who restricted Sunrisers to a below par total after they had gotten off to a blazing start. Once that was done, it was upto their batsmen to do the rest. David Warner once again led from the front with an impressive knock, while they would also be pleased that the struggling Shikhar Dhawan also got among the runs. The 10-wicket triumph should give Sunrisers a massive boost.
Undoubtedly, it was Bhuvneshwar's performance that set up victory charge for Sunrisers. He moved the ball around early on, and when not doing so later, used his variations to keep the opposition on the back foot. Lions opener Aaron Finch was the dangerman for Sunrisers, and Kumar delivered the big blow when he bowled the dangerous opener in the very first over of the match. Lions had never found themselves in such a position earlier in the event, and Sunrisers made best use of the early break. Although Lions recovered well after the early loss, Mustafizur Rahman bowled brilliantly towards the end, conceding less than five runs per over. Kumar also returned to claim three wickets in the last over.
Although the bowlers had put Sunrisers in an emphatic position, Lions still had hope in case they got Warner early. But, the Sunrisers skipper was once again in his elements, and batted superbly to complement the great work done by Kumar and co. The form of Dhawan was the big talking point going into the match, but with not much to get, Dhawan could take his time. Although he did not look fluent, what Dhawan did well was to not throw his wicket away. And, once he got a couple of boundaries away, Dhawan looked in his elements again. It was a much needed knock for Dhawan and the team.
When Lions look back at the match, they would rue the lack of runs from their batsmen. Yes, Finch's early loss was a massive blow. But, Suresh Raina did find his range, and played a belligerent innings. It was the lack of support for him that hurt the team. Brendon McCullum, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja all fell cheaply. The constant fall of wickets meant that Lions could not put any pressure on the opposition. The innings just did not get into any sort of rhythm, in spite of Raina getting the big hits from one end.
One really cannot blame the Lions' bowlers too much for the loss. They did not have enough runs to defend. Still, it could have helped had they got Warner early, just like Sunrisers dismissed Finch. But, it wasn't to be the case. And, once the openers got their eye in, there was no stopping them. The bowlers too then lost hope, and ended up putting a rather limp performance. It was the kind of effort least expected from Lions after three wins, but such is the nature of T20.
-- By A Cricket Analyst