New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Captain David Warner's belligerent innings of 96 not out helped Sunrisers Hyderabad overcome Gujarat Lions by four wickets here on Friday to enter the final of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
After Aaron Finch's 32-ball 50 lifted Gujarat to 162 for seven in the second qualifier at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, Warner singlehandedly drove his team past the target as he forged a 46-run unbroken stand with Bipul Sharma (27 not out off 11 balls) for the seventh wicket.
Warner, who hit 11 fours and three sixes in his 58-ball stay, ran out of support and his side was reduced to 117/6 in 15.5 overs when the last recognized batsman, Naman Ojha departed.
But Bipul played a perfect foil to Warner as the duo stunned Gujarat to help Hyderabad enter the final for the first time.
In the final, Hyderabad will meet Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday in Bengaluru.
Earlier in the match, Australian right-hander Finch 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, 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.
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.
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 utilised 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.
In reply, Hyderabad too witnessed a turbulent start, losing Shikhar Dhawan (0), Moises Henriques (11) and Yuvraj Singh (8) cheaply. While Dhawan ran himself out, Henriques drove straight to cover off medium pacer Smith and Yuvraj was caught by Smith at long off in the bowling of chinaman spinner Shivil Kaushik.
But Warner kept Gujarat at bay, with his belligerent batting, completing his fifty in 35 balls - his eighth half-century of the tournament.
However, wickets continued to tumble at the other end, with Deepak Hooda (4) being adjudged leg before wicket in the bowling of Bravo, as Hyderabad were reduced to 75/4 in 11.1 overs - still needing 88 from 8.4 overs.
Cutting's wicket - caught by wicketkeeper Karthik off Kaushik in the 13th over - raised further hopes for Gujarat, who were on top.
In the following over, Warner and Ojha collected 19 runs from Smith's bowling to raise Hyderabad's hopes but the 16th over bowled by Bravo put Gujarat again on top as he dismissed Ojha (10) while conceding just two runs. After this, Hyderabad needed 45 off four overs.
Warner later found great support from Bipul, who stunned Gujarat with his power and grit. With 24 required off two overs, Warner and Bipul milked 20 runs in the penultimate over bowled by Bravo and they completed the formalities in the final over in style.
Brief scores: Gujarat Lions: 162/7 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 50, Brendon McCullum 32; Ben Cutting 2/20, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/27). Sunrisers Hyderabad: 163/6 in 19.2 overs (David Warner 93 not out, Bipul Sharma 27 not out; Shivil Kaushik 2/22, Dwayne Bravo 2/32).