Kolkata, March 24 (IANS) David Warner made a roaring comeback to the Indian Premier League (IPL) by cracking a stroke-filled 85 as Sunrisers Hyderabad posted 181/3 in 20 overs against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their campaign opener at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Warner, whose 53-ball 85 was laced with nine fours and three sixes, looked in the zone from the word go and brought up his 37th IPL fifty off 31 just balls with an upper cut over third man off Andre Russell in the ninth over.
Warner now has the highest number of 50-plus scores in the IPL.
The dashing southpaw looked good for a hundred but Russell came back to get his wicket and help the hosts put a lid on the visitors’ run feast.
But India all-rounder Vijay Shankar ensured that Sunrisers had enough runs on the board with an unbeaten 24-ball 40 (2×4, 2×6). Manish Pandey was not out on 8 while Yusuf Pathan (1) failed to get going.
For the hosts, Russell was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2/32.
Playing for the first time since being banned for one-year due to his role in a ball-tampering row in South Africa last year, Warner opened his account by flicking Prasidh Krishna towards the deep square leg boundary.
In the next over, the 32-year-old hit Piyush Chawla for two fours — first a cut through extra cover off the back foot and then a delightful cover drive — to underline his intent.
There was no stopping Warner from there on as the former Australia vice-captain made the most of a reprieve — he was dropped on 21 in the fourth over by Robin Uthappa at short mid-wicket off Lockie Ferguson — by milking the New Zealand quick for a four through extra cover in the very next delivery.
Even the economical Sunil Narine was not spared as Warner welcomed him with back-to-back boundaries to help the visitors race to 54/0 in the Powerplay.
Warner brought out his full repertoire, reverse-sweeping Kuldeep Yadav past short third man in his first over before bringing up his 37th IPL 50.
Kuldeep was once again clobbered for a maximum in the 10th over as Warner and Jonny Bairstow (39) brought up their 100-run opening stand in 66 balls just after the halfway mark.
Bairstow, playing second fiddle to Warner all along, was finally castled by Chawla with a googly in the 13th over.
But it hardly seemed to matter as in-form all rounder Vijay Shankar showed his confidence by going down on one knee to slog sweep Narine over midwicket for a superb six.
With Warner at the other end, Sunrisers looked good for a big score but Russell sent the danger man back when Uthappa took a brilliant catch at cover in the 16th over.
KKR tried to check the run flow in the last four overs but Shankar played some delightful strokes to put Sunrisers in a commanding position.
Brief score: Sunrisers Hyderabad 181/3 in 20 overs (David Warner 85, Vijay Shankar 40; Andre Russell 2/32) vs Kolkata Knight Riders