Published: March 31, 2020 7:12:45 pm
On this day in 2019, Jonny Bairstow announced himself in the most popular T20 League of the world alongside rival David Warner as they shattered the record of the highest opening partnership in the tournament’s history at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad.
Bairstow wasn’t a big name going into the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 auction after getting unsold in the previous edition’s auction. In the 12th edition’s auction, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) seemed interested in the English wicketkeeper-batsman. They were engaged in a mini-bidding war with Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) but the latter gave up too early. Bairstow went to the Hyderabad franchise for Rs 2.2 crore. Had KXIP known the kind of form Bairstow will showcase in IPL 2019, they would have gone all guns blazing to rope him in the side.
Bairstow was in good form with consistent performances in the T10 league. He scored a 35-ball 39 on IPL debut against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) followed by a quickfire 28-ball 45 against Rajasthan Royals (RR).
On the other hand, David Warner was coming back to the side after missing the previous edition due to the one-year ban from all forms of cricket following the infamous ball-tampering scandal. Warner made his comeback in style with 85 against KKR and 69 against RR.
The two openers were getting SRH off to blazing starts and touted as the best opening pair of the tournament.
On March 31, 2019, stand-in skipper Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s side was put to bat first by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli. RCB did not have the most potent bowling attack but Kohli backed his bowlers to use the conditions that were slightly in bowlers’ favour unlike the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium where a big score is always around the corner.
Warner and Bairstow walked out to open the innings. Kohli introduced spin with the new ball but the plan backfired. Moeen Ali went for 14 runs in the first over. His teammate Bairstow had no problems hitting him for two boundaries in the first over of the innings.
After a terrific start, the destructive duo went after the bowlers, not letting them dominate or make a comeback. RCB conceded 59 runs in the powerplay overs. Both the openers were hitting the ball hard, untroubled by a bowling lineup comprising of Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Colin de Grandhomme and debutant Prayas Barman who went for 56 runs in his quota of four overs.
Bairstow-Warner did not give any chances to the RCB bowlers as they approached milestones. The Yorkshire-born cricketer reached his century off 52 balls in the 16th over of the innings and celebrated it in Warner-like style, jumping and pumping his right fist in the air.
He got out in the next over but not before scoring 114 runs from 56 deliveries including 12 fours and seven towering sixes. He scored 80.7 per cent of his runs through boundaries. He reached his maiden IPL century in his third innings, fourth-fastest to achieve the feat after Brendon McCullum, Mike Hussey (one inning) and Andrew Symonds (three innings).
The two had shared a 185-run partnership for the first wicket surpassing the previous record of 184 held by Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir in 2017 playing for KKR against Gujarat Lions.
Warner was batting on 70 with 20 balls left in the innings when Bairstow got out. The Australian opener reached the three figures in the final over of the innings. He took 55 deliveries to do so. His unbeaten 100 included five fours and five sixes. This was the fourth instance in T20 cricket and second in IPL when two batsmen had scored centuries in a single match.
The centuries helped SRH post 231 for two wickets on the board which turned out to be too much for star-studded RCB as they were all out for 113.
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Bairstow and Warner continued to dominate the bowlers throughout the IPL. Bairstow scored 445 runs from 10 games including two half-centuries and one century whereas Warner won the Purple Cap after scoring 692 runs from 12 matches including one century and eight half-centuries.
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