David Warner was once a loose cannon, punching Joe Root in a bar, going on a Twitter tirade at an ungodly hour, and generally shooting off his mouth at every turn. Now he is the stand-up guy, the father who dotes on his adorable daughters, and is Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Mr Magnificent. On Monday night at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, he slammed 90 not out off 59 balls to script a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians and help his side open their account in Indian Premier League 2016.
The Hyderabad captain didn’t hesitate to field after winning the toss, sensing chasing was perhaps the way to go on this wicket after the last game, and his bowlers responded well, restricting Mumbai’s famed line-up to 142 for 6.
It was a small total, but Shikhar Dhawan (2) might as well have been sitting helplessly on a dunk tank for a fundraiser instead of batting, as Tim Southee only had to pitch the ball on full length for it to do enough to shatter the stumps.
Warner, however, wasn’t going to let Mumbai’s bowlers settle down and he let them know, with two powerfully struck boundaries in the next over. He played almost an identical stroke to the one he played against Kolkata Knight Riders that had him dismissed, but Rohit Sharma failed to latch on. Warner was on 17 then, and you could sense right there that this was going to prove costly.
There were contributions from Moises Henriques (20), Eoin Morgan (11) and Deepak Hooda (17 not out), but it was Warner who shone like a beacon. When wickets tumbled at the other end, he played to the situation and not to the gallery. He played a brutal innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore, but here, although there were some scintillating sixes towards the end—including the one to get the winning runs with 15 balls to spare—he never got carried away.
Mumbai would have had to pack their belongings a hurry, having played their game against Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium only 48 hours earlier, but their display with the bat today showed they certainly remembered to pack their scratchy form if not anything else.
Martin Guptill made his much-awaited IPL debut, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar played party pooper, inducing an edge off the fourth ball of the opening over to send him back for 2. Barinder Sran then offered up a cocktail of boundaries and wides to Parthiv Patel (10), but just as he was expecting another helping of hit-me balls, the pacer surprised him with a delivery that swung in and crashed into the stumps.
The biggest roar from the crowd, however, was reserved for Rohit Sharma’s dismissal. The Mumbai Indians captain had decided to drop down to No. 4 to provide some cushioning to the brittle middle order. Instead, he only contributed to the collapse. He set off for a single that was never on and an excellent throw from Moises Henriques at cover found him run out for 5, betrayed by his bat bouncing up on impact.
43 for 3 then became 60 for 4 as Jos Buttler too joined the procession. The only one who wasn’t running around like a headless chicken was Ambati Rayudu. He was batting with care—what other choice had the top order left him with?—but there was serious danger of Mumbai once again leaving their bowlers with too little to work with.
But, in 6.3 overs of madness, Krunal Pandya (49 not out off 28 balls), the lesser known of the Pandya brothers but perhaps not for much longer, and Rayudu managed to snatch the momentum back from Hyderabad. In the 14th over, Rayudu heaved the second ball of the over from Bipul into the stands near long off and took a single. Krunal then walloped Bipul for three successive sixes—past deep square leg, deep midwicket and long off.
With 26 runs coming off the over, Mumbai were fooled into thinking the rest of the Hyderabad bowlers would be as magnanimous, but that was hardly the case. Rayudu could only find the fielder at point, departing for 54 off 49 balls. Mustafizur Rahman, who leaked runs early on, cleaned up Hardik Pandya for 2. The bowlers, giving away only six runs in the final over, had done their job and, much to the delight of the 20,000-odd fans that had turned up, the batsmen decided to show up too.
Nisha Shetty is senior sub-editor at Wisden India. Mint as a content partnership with Wisden India for the IPL 9 season.