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Sunrisers over Pune

Thisara Perera (right) celebrates the wicket of Marlon Samuels.

Thisara Perera (right) celebrates the wicket of Marlon Samuels.

HYDERABAD – Sunrisers’ Hyderabad made a winning debut in the Indian Premier League as they defended a low score at their home ground on a slow, difficult pitch today.

Thisara Perera, Sunrisers’ $675,000 Sri Lankan acquisition, did not begin too badly for his new franchise, top-scoring with a quick 30, taking the first two Pune Warriors wickets and causing a run-out. Amit Mishra wasn’t too far behind, his legbreaks leaving Warriors confounded on a helpful surface. Dale Steyn left the Warriors top order dazed with his outswingers and returned to blow away the lower order with three wickets in four balls.

Not many would have given Sunrisers a chance when they almost sleepwalked their way to 126 after being put in, barring a brief effort to break free from Perera. Deccan Chargers, the franchise Sunrisers replaced, had an atrocious record at this ground, and Sunrisers appeared set to extend that in front of a lukewarm turnout. But they came out a different unit with the ball.

Steyn, charged up as almost always, beat the Warriors openers repeatedly with quick outswingers. Ishant Sharma was accurate and testing, as he can be in helpful conditions. The wickets came Perera’s way, though.

After running him fine for a boundary, Robin Uthappa tried repeating the stroke and went caught behind. West Indies’ Marlon Samuels gave the lone slip catching practice in Perera’s next over, Kumar Sangakkara deserving credit for sticking with the fielder and the bowler.

Warriors’ batting line-up stretched way down to No. 8 Mitchell Marsh, but it was to come unstuck as Mishra brought out his control and variations. Yuvraj Singh, on IPL comeback, walked down, and was easily beaten and stumped. Manish Pandey’s struggle to put bat to ball ended with a mishit slog off Mishra, as the asking-rate started mounting.

Almost everything clicked for Sangakkara on the field. He needed young Ashish Reddy to bowl a decent 17th over, and the bowler responded by uprooting Ross Taylor’s leg stump with a full, slower delivery.

With 33 needed off three overs, Perera was to make another important contribution. Angelo Mathews, who came in at No. 7, smashed a full toss straight back at Perera, who stuck out his right hand, and the dangerous Marsh was caught short of his crease at the non-striker’s end.

Warriors’ lower order panicked against Steyn, trying to attack the fast bowler while their captain looked on helplessly from the other end, ruing the fact that his team left as many as seven deliveries unused.

Sunrisers used up their quota when they batted, but weren’t able to find any momentum. The top four got only starts, and it was down to Perera to breathe some life into a suffocating innings. He began with consecutive fours off Rahul Sharma and slogged Marlon Samuels’ darts for two more boundaries before mishitting an Ashok Dinda full toss in the 18th over. Perera’s fall meant Sunrisers weren’t able to finish well with the bat, but they were far more determined with the ball.

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