When Harsha Bhogle said at the start of the match that Pune Warriors look stronger on paper than the Hyderabad Sunrisers, few would have agreed to disagree with him.
But what unpacked in the next four hours at the Rajiv Gandhi Cricket stadium showed how desperate Hyderabad Sunrisers are to make a statement in the sixth edition of IPL in an all new avatar.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (erstwhile Deccan Chargers) have the worst home record probably by any sporting team across disciplines. Of the 19 games they have played in the stadium, they have won only four.
The team did an extensive Vastu Puja and changed their dressing room last season in thought of working their fortunes but no avail as they finished second from bottom. But all said and done, this piece of news is history now.
With a new management and new outlook, the Sunrisers could not have written a better script of what they did in their first game. A victory in the opener not only won back diminishing fans from the stadium but gave the players an extra ounce of confidence to carry forward.
When the official team sheet was out, I did not really expect fireworks from any particular batsman. And true to my gut feeling, Sunrisers were bundled out for 126 runs. Going into the break, I'm sure everyone would have thought that they were about 20-25 runs short but Pune Warriors have been involved in a couple of low scoring matches in IPL which they have lost. Remember last season they lost to Mumbai Indians by one run chasing a target of 121? Yet, the morale of the PWI boys was high after a brilliant display with the ball and on field.
But Sunrisers, who are more known for their bowling, gave a marvelous exhibition in terms of what they can do with the cricket ball. Amit Mishra, for sure, was the star of the match and it is always a delight to see a leg spinner keeping the batsmen guessing in a T20 game.
With 75 wickets after this match, he is now the second highest wicket taker in the history of the IPL. The Pube batsmen hardly made attempts to go after the bowling heavily — on a track where average scores have been on the high 160s.
When the batting team openly admits that they were 20-25 runs short, yet they win the game by a margin of 22 runs, it only speaks volumes of the discipline on the field and with the ball. Everybody who watched the 19th over delivered by Dale Steyn will know that going forward Sunrisers can be very lethal in their attack. To write them off completely might not be a great idea after what unfolded in their first match.
All said and done, Sunrisers Hyderabad had to register a victory and they did just what the doctor ordered. Very soon, they take stance against Royal Challengers Bangalore who also started their campaign by beating Mumbai Indians by two runs. Let’s take this one match at a time, shall we?