DUBAI - Sunrisers Hyderabad's batting eggs are all in their top-order basket. In their two previous games, the top three - Aaron Finch, Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner - had failed to fire, and so they lost. Today, all three batsmen came good and the upshot was a narrow victory that earned Sunrisers their first points of the season.
Finch and Dhawan had an opening partnership of 56 in 6.2 overs, racking up Sunrisers' best Powerplay score in the process. There were no more wickets for Delhi Daredevils after Dhawan fell. Warner joined Finch for a 128-run stand in 13.4 overs with both batsmen making power-packed half-centuries to post 184.
Daredevils had themselves to blame for conceding so many because they dropped three catches. On 26, Dhawan cut Wayne Parnell straight to Manoj Tiwary at point and was reprieved. Parnell's anguish was evident because his previous three deliveries - all of them short - had been cut and heaved for four, six and four. Warner was dropped second ball - before he had scored - by the wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik off spinner Shahbaz Nadeem; he was on 31 when Tiwary put down a skier at point, off Parnell. Had those chances been taken, the likelihood of Sunrisers achieving their best ever IPL total was remote.
Finch's innings had no such blemish. He did not shred the attack right from the start; in fact his first 35 balls brought him only 41 runs. The highlight of that period was a one-handed six over extra cover off JP Duminy. Finch was off balance when he made contact but had the conviction to go through with the shot.
He cut loose in the 16th over, with three consecutive boundaries off medium-pacer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, and passed 50 off his 37th delivery. He bettered that effort in the 18th over, punishing Jaydev Unadkat for four successive boundaries, and set Sunrisers on course for a formidable total. And just when Unadkat threatened to complete an efficient final over, Finch hit the final ball into the stands beyond midwicket, to finish with 88 off 53 balls.
While Finch batted fluently right through, Warner converted a slow start into a punchy half-century. Soon after he was dropped second ball, he clouted Duminy over the straight boundary, but slowed down again. From 8 off 5 balls, Warner plodded to 18 off 27, until Parnell bowled him a leg-side full toss that he smashed for four. And then the boundaries flowed and Warner's touch was so good that he could switch-hit another full toss, from Mohammad Shami, for six over third man.
Despite facing a daunting total, Delhi did not want for momentum. Their openers Quinton de Kock and M Vijay added 99 in 11.2 overs, scoring with ease off pace and spin alike. Dale Steyn had caused no problems in his first two overs either. Both openers fell in quick succession, though, leaving two brand new batsmen with the challenge of scoring 82 off 46 balls.
Kevin Pietersen, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a hand injury, struggled. He scored only 5 off his first 13 balls as the asking-rate climbed over two a ball. Pietersen redressed that imbalance by heaving Darren Sammy over midwicket for six and then cutting his next ball - off Steyn - for four. Karthik had also scored at just over a run a ball when he became Steyn's first wicket of the season, in the 17th over. Steyn doubled his tally next delivery by claiming Pietersen.
The Daredevils' biggest blunder was perhaps a tactical one - they kept their most in-form batsman for too late. Duminy briefly threatened to pull off an incredible heist, but Tiwary, who faced 13 balls, could not give him enough of the strike. Duminy was able to face only seven balls and scored 20 off them. Daredevils desperately needed him to face just a few more.
S Dhawan c Pietersen b Nadeem 33
AJ Finch not out 88
DA Warner not out 58
EXTRAS: (lb 3, w 2) 5
TOTAL: (1 wicket; 20 overs) 184
BOWLING: S Nadeem 4-0-24-1, M Shami 4-0-36-0, WD Parnell 4-0-38-0, JD Unadkat 4-0-43-0, JP Duminy 2-0-19-0, LR Shukla 2-0-21-0
Q de Kock c Finch b Sharma 48
M Vijay c Steyn b Sammy 52
KP Pietersen c Sammy b Steyn 16
KD Karthik c Rahul b Steyn 15
JP Duminy not out 20
MK Tiwary not out 23
EXTRAS: (lb 3, w 2, nb 1) 6
TOTAL: (4 wickets; 20 overs) 180
FOW: 1-99, 2-103, 3-135, 4-135
BOWLING: B Kumar 4-0-40-0, DW Steyn 4-0-33-2, Y Venugopal Rao 1-0-9-0, KV Sharma 4-0-23-1, DJG Sammy 3-0-34-1, A Mishra 4-0-38-0
UMPIRES: M Erasmus (SA), S Ravi (Ind)
TV UMPIRE: BF Bowden (NZ)
MATCH REFEREE: GF Labrooy (SL)