Defending champs Sunrisers beat Challengers in IPL opener

HYDERABAD: Defending champions Hyderabad Sunrisers got the 10th edition of IPL rolling on Wednesday with a thumping 35-run victory over last year's finalists, Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Yuvraj Singh (62) and Australia's Moises Henriques (52) smashed half centuries as the home team reached an impressive total of 207-4, while Challengers lacked any real spark in the field without captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, who are both injured.

Challengers were bowled out for 172 with two balls to spare and never looked like coming close after losing power-hitter Chris Gayle, who top-scored with 32.

Yuvraj made Challengers pay after being dropped on 26, finishing with seven fours and three sixes. He faced only 27 deliveries before being bowled by Tymal Mills in the 19th over.

Henriques set the tone by adding 74 runs for the second-wicket stand with Shikhar Dhawan (40) after Sunrisers lost their skipper David Warner in the second over for 14.

Gayle momentarily looked to threaten Sunrisers, adding 52 runs off 34 balls for the opening-wicket stand with Mandeep Singh (24).

But Afghanistan's young leg-spinner Rashid Khan (2-36) made a dream IPL debut by having Mandeep clean bowled in his first over, while Gayle holed out at long off in the next over, bowled by off-spinner Depak Hooda.

Veteran Ashish Nehra completed his 100 wickets in IPL and finished with 2-42, but it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar's figures of 2-27 that never allowed Challengers to test Sunrisers.

Unlike the previous nine editions of the IPL, when there was one grand opening ceremony, eight ceremonies in the first home games of all eight franchises are planned this year.

In the first such opener on Wednesday, which lasted less than half an hour, four Indian greats of modern cricket — Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag — made an appearance.

"The best part of IPL is that cricket has gone to those countries which have got nothing to do with cricket. That has happened due to IPL," said Tendulkar, who helped Mumbai Indians win two IPL titles in 2011 and 2013.

Top players from all the major cricketing nations — except Pakistan — will compete in the 60-match competition, with the final slated for May 21.

The tense political situation between the two neighboring countries has kept Pakistan's players out of the IPL since they competed in the inaugural edition in 2008.

However, Pakistan has drawn some support from famous Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor, who backed players across the border to feature in world's biggest Twenty20 league.

"IPL. You got world players. Afghanistan makes debut. My plea is please consider Pakistani players," Kapoor tweeted.

Corey Anderson of New Zealand and Carlos Brathwaite of Twenty20 world champions West Indies will be playing for Delhi Daredevils, while Gujrat Lions have another New Zealander, Brendon McCullum, and Kings XI Punjab signed Australia's Glenn Maxwell and England's Eoin Morgan.

Kolkata Knight Riders, a franchise owned by Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, have West Indies' Sunil Narine and New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult. West Indies batsman Kieron Pollard and England's Jos Buttler carry Mumbai Indians hopes of a third IPL title while India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be playing under Australia's Steve Smith for Rising Pune Supergiant.