Blistering knocks by Yuvraj Singh, Moises Henriques, and Shikhar Dhawan powered the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad to a 35-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening match of the cash-rich Indian Premier League 2017 at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Wednesday night.

The Sunrisers looked hardly bothered by a year’s gap as the champions started their title defence with a meticulous performance that enthralled the local audience.

Battle of Aussie skippers

In a battle of Australian captains, Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Shane Watson won the toss and asked his compatriot David Warner to take the crease on a belter of a pitch which promised massive runs.

Confident start for Sunrisers

Skipper David Warner (14 off 8 – 2 fours, 1 six) and Indian opening batting maestro Shikhar Dhawan (40 off 31 – 5 fours) got the Sunrisers off to a confident start as the duo took the initiative before Aniket Choudhary put an end to the skipper’s infant knock.

Shikhar Dhawan got a perfect partner in an in-form Moises Henriques (52 off 37 – 3 fours, 2 sixes) as the pair jolted the Challengers’ bowling attack with some lusty blows during their second wicket partnership which produced 74 runs from just 53 deliveries.

Yuvraj Singh comes to the party

Indian all-rounder yuvraj singh came to the crease just at the right time and he wasted no time in unleashing his expensive shots as he clobbered 62 runs from juts 27 balls at a strike rate of 229.62 runs per 100 balls.

The knock changed the complexion of the whole game as Henriques and Yuvi added 58 runs from just 29 balls for the third wicket partnership.

Australian all-rounder Ben Cutting (16* off 6 – 2 sixes) and Deepak Hooda (16* off 12 – 1 six) made sure the momentum continued right to the end as the Sunrisers Hyderabad finished with a mountainous total of 4/207 off 20 overs.

Unfulfilled expectations

A lot depended on how West Indian master blaster Chris Gayle performed against the new ball on the flat pitch, especially after facing a torrid time in Dubai and Sharjah during the course of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) earlier this year.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore needed a super-charged Chris Gayle to overhaul the massive run-chase, especially in the absence of Indian batting sensation Virat Kohli who is not available for the initial part of the tournament.

Chris Gayle (32 off 21 – 2 fours, 3 sixes) and Mandeep Singh (24 off 16 – 5 fours) came to the party to knock off 52 runs for the opening partnership and that too at a brisk rate. The first six overs belonged to the Challengers but a late wicket from the first Afghanistan bowler in the IPL Rashid Khan did hurt the momentum toward the end of the Power Play. Mandeep Singh tried to cut a Shahid Afridi-like delivery that kept with the angle and took the inside edge onto the leg stump to finish what looked like a promising inning.

Australian batsman Travis Head (30 off 22 – 3 fours) joined the West Indian T20 legend at the centre but the association proved short-lived as Chris Gayle skied one into the palms of David Warner in quest of big hits.

India’s new batting sensation Kedhar Jadhav (31 off 16 – 4 fours, 1 six) marched into the centre and for a moment it looked as if the pitch was scoring runs for the batsmen.

Turning point

It all looked great for the Challengers as Travis Head and Kedhar Jadhav scored 56 runs from just 31 deliveries before Australian all-rounder Ben Cutting took the Indian scalp not with the ball but with a strong return from the deep that smashed into the stumps directly and caught Jadhav well short of his ground.

The run-out shattered the run-chase as Shane Watson (22 off 17 – 1 four, 1 six) and Stuart Binny (11 off 10 – 1 six) failed to provide the lethal blow as the Royal Challengers Bangalore could manage 10/172 from 19.4 overs.

Man of the Match

All-rounder Yuvraj Singh was declared Man of the Match for his blistering show of towering sixes and sizzling boundaries.