Australia's David Warner smashed 85 from 53 balls on his Indian T20 League comeback Sunday but his knock went in vain as Hyderabad lost to Kolkata.
Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
Warner, who along with compatriot Steve Smith returns to the Twenty20 tournament after missing the previous edition due to a ball-tampering controversy, steered Hyderabad to 181 for three after being put into bat.
His efforts though were not enough, with Andre Russell hitting an unbeaten 49 off 19 balls as Kolkata won by six wickets with two balls to spare at Kolkata's Eden Gardens. A pause for a floodlight failure in the 16th over re-charged Knight Riders' chase as Russell put together an unbeaten 65-run stand with Shubman Gill, who hit 18 runs including the winning six.
Russell struck four fours and four sixes.
Earlier Warner stood out during a 118-run opening stand with England's Jonny Bairstow, who made 39, to lay the platform for their big total.
"It is good to get out there and contribute. It looked a nice wicket to bat on but it slowed down a bit which made us reassess after six overs," Warner said after his knock.
The Australian admitted some anxiety before his big return to IPL -- and an unusual solution.
"I was a bit nervous in the dressing room and kept drinking pickle juice," he said.
Opener Warner survived a reprieve on 38 after Kolkata captain and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik dropped him off left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Warner, who captained Hyderabad to their only IPL title in 2016, made the most of the spill and raced to his 37th IPL fifty with a six off Russell to signal his aggressive intent. Bairstow was bowled by leg-spinner Piyush Chawla but Warner took the attack to the opposition, hitting nine fours and three sixes during his blitz.
Warner, who recently recovered from an elbow injury he picked in the Bangladesh Premier League, finally fell to Russell after driving the ball to cover. Warner said his elbow "wasn't all too bad" after doing a lot of work with his trainer back home.
Year-long bans from state and international cricket for Warner and Smith end on March 28 but the duo are keen to get among the runs in the Indian T20 League, ahead of the 50-over World Cup starting in May.
The suspension did not include club games but IPL's governing council decided not to allow the disgraced duo in the 11th edition of the T20 league last year in a bid to avoid controversy.
The pair were banned for cheating in a Cape Town Test in March last year along with teammate Cameron Bancroft, whose nine-month ban has already finished.
Smith is expected to appear for his team Rajasthan in their opening match against Punjab in Jaipur on Monday.