New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Aaron Finch's 32-ball 50 lifted Gujarat Lions to 162 for seven against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the second qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium here on Friday.
Coming in to bat with his side struggling at 63/3 in the ninth over, the Australian right-hander hit two sixes and seven fours to register his fifth century of the tournament, even as his team kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
Hyderabad received a big blow even before the start of the match as left-arm medium pacer Mustafizur Rahman (16 wickets) was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Filling in for the Bangladeshi, Kiwi paceman Trent Boult contributed handsomely, taking a wicket and being involved in two other wickets.
Medium pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/27) and Ben Cutting (2/20) also stepped up and contributed significantly and thanks to them, Gujarat struggled from the beginning.
Gujarat had a difficult start, losing opener Eklavya Dwivedi (5) and skipper Suresh Raina (1) inside four overs.
Eklavya offered a simple catch to Boult at third man off a rising delivery from Bhuvneshwar in the first over. Boult bowled the next over and had left-hander Raina leg before wicket (LBW), as Gujarat reached 19/2 in 3.2 overs.
Brendon McCullum (32) and Dinesh Karthik (26) started a recovery process as they started the partnership carefully. They had struck a 44-run stand when tragedy hit Gujarat as Karthik ran himself out while trying to take a single towards short third man (Boult) in the ninth over bowled by left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma.
After this wicket, Hyderabad took full control of the match as Bipul dealt another blow to Gujarat when he had McCullum caught by Bhuvneshwar at deep cover in the final ball of the 12th over. Two deliveries before the dismissal, a generous Sran had dropped a catch offered by Aaron Finch at short fine leg, but McCullum had other ideas to plot his downfall.
West Indian veteran batsman Dwayne Smith (1) too joined McCullum soon in the dug-out as he was caught at deep cover by Shikhar Dhawan off medium pacer Ben Cutting, following which, Gujarat reeled at 83/5.
Finch utilized the long handle to good effect as he milked sixes and fours all around the park to ensure that Gujarat get a competitive score. He scored the bulk of the 51-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja.
After completing his fifty in just 31 deliveries, Finch was castled by compatriot medium pacer Cutting but Jadeja (19 not out) and Dwayne Bravo (20 off 10) steered Gujarat past 160-run mark.
Brief scores: Gujarat Lions: 162/7 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 50, Brendon McCullum 32; Ben Cutting 2/20, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/27) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad.