#thenewscompany : Sunrisers Hyderabad had made it to the playoffs only once in their IPL history, in 2013. Now, on the biggest stage of them all, they sent out a statement of intent by opting to bat against Royal Challengers Bangalore at a venue where tall scores have been chased down nonchalantly. David Warner, their talismanic leader, walked the talk to top-score with a 38-ball 69, before Ben Cutting lent the finishing touches with an unbeaten 15-ball 39 to help them post 208 for 7, which proved to be a bit too much for Royal Challengers.
The hosts had breached the 200-mark thrice at home this season. There was no reason why they could not on Sunday, except the pressure of chasing in a final. Not for Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, though, as the openers wiped 114 in 10.3 overs – Gayle alone accounting for 76 courtesy four fours and eight sixes – to propel the chase. The tournament’s best bowling attack was under pressure now, but clinically applied the brakes after Gayle’s wicket to pip the hosts to win by eight runs and clinch their maiden IPL title at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Shane Watson’s rare off day with the ball cost Royal Challengers big. He lost his mark by a long way, feeding the batsmen with an assortment of hittable deliveries – short, wide and full – to concede 61 off four wicketless overs, the last of which was also the final over of the innings, going for 24.
But Royal Challengers had other ideas. Gayle announced proudly that he was capable of taking the match away single-handedly even before Kohli and AB de Villiers could take off. It may have been a big statement to make by a man who has been a shade of his destructive best. With just one fifty in nine innings prior to the final, there were question marks over his efficiency in the shortest format. Seemingly unperturbed by all the talk, he launched a savage attack.
Gayle’s gung-ho approach allowed Kohli to overcome a patchy start where he showed early signs of desperation. After facing 18 balls for one four, which came off a thick outside edge, he launched himself with an inside-out hit over the infield that nearly carried to a diving Warner at long-off. Gayle then finished that over with two sixes and a four raised Royal Challengers’ 100 in nine overs. With the asking rate under ten runs an over for the first time in the chase, there was a hint of desperation and panic in the Sunrisers ranks.
In a bid to stop the run flow, Warner reintroduced his trump card, the returning Mustafizur Rahman for his second over. But the cutters that had yielded considerable success until that point, were first squeezed past cover for four, and followed by a lofted stroke over long-off for six. Well ahead of the rate, Gayle then let his experience speak by tactful rotation of strike to give Royal Challengers one foot in the door. The hosts were cruising high and happy, until there was turbulence.
Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers fell in the space of 20 deliveries as Royal Challengers slipped to 148 for 3. They needed 61 off 37. They were on a freefall and needed Watson to cover up for his lapses with the ball. There were early signs when he swatted Moises Henriques for six over long-on, but his dismissal in the 17th over, immediately after KL Rahul’s wicket to Cutting, led to a capitulation the hosts could not recover from, as Sunrisers took over the Chinnaswamy on a night when it was expected to rain.