The last time Yuvraj Singh played an IPL match was on May 21,2011. His return to the tournament,so far,had gone well. His slow left arm bowling,made for this slow Uppal wicket,had contributed two quiet overs and a wicket as Pune Warriors restricted Sunrisers Hyderabad,in their maiden Pepsi IPL innings,to 126 for six.
But now,he had bat in hand. The fifth ball of his innings,he jumped out of his crease. The ball from Amit Mishra,slow and loopy,gripped the turf on the line of middle and leg and turned further down the leg side,eluded the left-handed batsmans frantically thrust-out front pad and settled in Parthiv Patels right glove,which knocked out the leg bail.
A single off the next ball,the last of Mishras second over,took Punes score to 47 for three. Punes asking rate had gone from 6.35 at the start of their innings to 7.90 at the halfway mark.
At this point,the Sunrisers brought on Cameron White. Between them,Taylor and Manish Pandey cobbled together two singles off his first over. In the next over,Mishra dismissed Pandey. Aiming a big swipe at another slow,grippy leg break,Pandey only managed a top edge that ballooned into points hands. Last ball of that over,Mishra beat both Abhishek Nayar and his wicketkeeper with a googly that ran away for four byes.
At that point,Mishra,White and Punes Rahul Sharma had bowled eight overs between them for 36 runs (at 4.5 an over) and taken three wickets. This was a match for the leg spinners. Mishra would soon come back for another over,and send back Nayar as well,off another ballooning outside edge,this time with a googly turning away from the left-hander.
Now,Pune needed 44 off 25,with five wickets in hand. The equation soon ceased to matter. Ashish Reddy bowled Taylor with a slower ball; Thisara Perera deflected an Angelo Mathews straight drive onto the stumps to find Mitchell Marsh out of his crease; Dale Steyn cleaned up the tail with three wickets in four balls during the penultimate over. The Sunrisers had begun life in the IPL with a 22-run win.
That fortuitous fingertip touch to effect the run out of Marsh was the last of many match-turning interventions by Perera. The Sri Lankan all-rounder had top-scored for Hyderabad,bashing his first two balls for four and carrying on in that vein to make 30 off 18 balls. It was an innings that defied the conditions,which were slow and unsuited to bashing the spinners around. But he still managed to club Rahul and Marlon Samuels for three fours and a six.
Pereras bowling back-of-a-length,all shoulder wasnt particularly suited to the conditions either. And it showed,somewhat,in his relatively expensive figures,his four overs costing 29 runs. But two of his back-of-a-length,shoulder-powered deliveries brought about dismissals. Both Robin Uthappa and Samuels in similar fashion,edging as they attempted to steer Perera to third man.
Uthappas wicket,the first of Punes innings,stalled all their momentum. The opener had scored 24 off 22 balls,struck two fours in that Perera over,and put on 36 with Karnataka teammate Manish Pandey. By the time Pandey fell,for a scratchy 29-ball 15,Pune had only added 14 to their total,for the loss of three more wickets,in a further 4.3 overs. Not surprisingly,this period coincided with the introduction of Mishra.