IPL 2016: Champions Sunrisers Hyderabad’s moment in the sun
IPL 2016 Final: Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers keep a rampaging RCB in check to win IPL final by 8 runs and clinch first title.
NOT LONG ago in a land not too far from the Chinnaswamy Stadium, a hotly-contested mega T20 final entered the last over with the favourites needing 19 runs to win the title. On Sunday in Bangalore, the favourites on this occasion needed 18. Chris Gayle had played a minor role in getting his team to that juncture that night in Kolkata. At Chinnaswamy, he had played a monumental role. Eoin Morgan was on the field that balmy April evening with no control over proceedings. Morgan sat on the sidelines in Bangalore with well, no control over proceedings. A nervous Ben Stokes had the ball in hand at the Eden Gardens. It was a nerveless Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who was on the hot-seat at the Chinnaswamy.
After a spectacular start from Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, the Sunrisers had slipped and lost momentum. They no longer looked on par for a 200+ total, especially when a well-set Yuvraj Singh-who turned back the clock to play a couple of cover-drives laced with that characteristic relish and flourish-was dismissed by Jordan. In walked Cutting. A ‘cutting’ is what you call a half-cup of tea in Mumbai, which is had when you don’t feel like having an entire cuppa. But there were no half-measures with Cutting in Bangalore. He simply kept clearing his left-leg and smashing the ball out of the ground-once literally of a high full-toss from Shane Watson, which was one of three he connected in the 20th over. His 15-ball 39 not only gave Hyderabad the boost they required it also ensured that 52 runs were scored in the last three overs taking the total to 208 for 7 and making RCB’s task a lot tougher than they had imagined. And yes, Cutting had entertained.
But again it was he who got rid of a rampaging Gayle who seemed in the mood to finish the game off on his own, and also then returned to bowl the crucial 15th over, where he conceded just four runs and dismissed KL Rahul. That over pretty much set the match up for Mustafizur and Bhuvaneshwar to do what they do best, carry out the final rites for the opposition. But before Cutting came Warner. From the moment he announced into the mike that he wanted to bat first and put a total on the board in the final, you simply knew what Warner had in mind. He simply wanted to charge out and take the match by the scruff of its neck. That’s exactly what he did too, going after the RCB new-ball from the very first over. If Kohli hadn’t had the kind of magical season he has with the bat, Warner’s performance in this IPL with both bat and as captain would have been the stuff of legends. It probably still is. The history of sport is riddled with episodes of leaders setting examples for their teammates. Here, Warner was setting one for the entire world. For, he was showing how to back up your confidence in terms of action. It was a sublime innings in more ways than one, for he never made it look like it was a final. He went about his hitting like he usually does, with calculated aggression, and raced to 69 before falling anticlimactically to a catch at short third-man. By then, he had evened out the odds for his team.
A target of 209 in a way seemed fair for RCB. If any team could even come close it had to be them. And as always it was a case of let’s see what Gayle does, and then start talking about the rest. As it turned out, the big Jamaican decided that it was time to show why he is the Universe Boss, and for 40 minutes or so, he held court and the world watched in awe. For the first time this season, not many wanted Kohli on strike. It looked like even he wasn’t too keen on coming in the way of the Gayle show. Like is the case when Gayle generally goes about his carnage, the white ball kept flying into the various corners of Chinnaswamy-even though the first six came off a thick edge-and there was little the Sunrisers could do about it. Yes, they got their lengths wrong often. But what do you do when your opponent is as unforgiving as Gayle. He hit eight sixes in all, and it looked like RCB were well on their way before Cutting came in the way. Post Gayle’s dismissal, Kohli decided enough was enough and looked keen on showing up Mustafizur in particular, hitting him for a six and a four to bring up his 18th half-century in 26 T20 innings this year. But as he attempted a wild hoick, for once the ball didn’t bounce over the stumps but took the bails on its way to stop Kohli in his tracks, and yet again leave him to be contended with coming second best.