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Sports

AFP
April 17, 2018

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Williamson leads Sunrisers to top of IPL in Warner’s absence

NEW DELHI: Kane Williamson has steered Sunrisers Hyderabad to the top of the Indian Premier League table since the New Zealander was elevated to captain in the absence of scandal-tained David Warner.

Williamson, the only foreign captain in this season’s edition of the lucrative franchise, has ensured an unbeaten run for Hyderabad in the first three games of the Twenty20 league.

The Kiwi cuts a much lower profile than Warner but has notched 92 runs in the Sunrisers’ three matches, including a fifty in their win over Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.Hyderabad, who won the tournament in 2016, next face second-placed Kings XI Punjab, who recorded their second win on Sunday buoyed by a quick 63-run blitz by Chris Gayle.

“Obviously nice to win three in a row,” said Williamson after the Sunrisers’ win at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens last week.Williamson was a last-minute replacement for Warner after the high-profile Australian was banned from the IPL over the South Africa ball-tampering scandal.

Australian skipper Steve Smith — another big ticket name for the IPL — was also dropped as captain of the Rajasthan Royals.The cheating row, so close to the IPL season launch, threatened to sully the billion-dollar franchise.But the glitzy tournament is already earning its reputation with close finishes and big hits in steady supply just a few weeks into the world’s most popular T20 league.

Gayle was only selected in the third round of IPL bidding, picked up by Punjab for just $314,000 in the January auctions that saw rookies going for more than $1 million.But the West Indian did not disappoint, smashing 63 off 33 balls in his opener for the Kings XI.

Gayle hit 7 fours and 4 sixes as Kings XI defeated Chennai Super Kings by four runs and cruised into second place on the IPL ladder.“It’s good to be back,” the 38-year-old big hitter said after Punjab’s win.

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