The official ball and the Tamil Nadu team jersey for the South Zone Santosh Trophy…
Eventually, the margin of victory was only eight runs, but when it truly mattered, the gap between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore felt a whole lot bigger. In the end, it came down to those overs at the death in both innings, when Ben Cutting and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a major impact.
Cutting, bought for his base price of Rs. 50 lakh at the auction, bludgeoned a 15-ball-39 and then returned to take two important wickets. Bhuvneshwar finished with figures of 0 for 25 from his four overs, sensational in the circumstances.
“It was an exceptional knock from Ben Cutting. We go back to the auction, where Tom (Moody) and V.V.S. Laxman had the belief that we needed another all-rounder to be there just in case Moises Henriques was not fit or unable to play,” David Warner said here in the aftermath of his side’s victory in the IPL final.
The Sunrisers captain couldn’t speak highly enough of Bhuvneshwar, who finished with the Purple Cap (23 wickets), and Mustafizur Rahman, arguably the bowler of the tournament, with his 17 wickets and economy rate of 6.9.
The pair played a major role in ensuring that RCB managed only 59 runs from the last seven overs. It was a display that exemplified Sunrisers’ bowling performances this season.
“Bhuvi has been in and out of the Indian team but he is a world-class finisher and new-ball bowler,” Warner said. “As an opening batsman, I wouldn’t want to come up against him on a wicket like this because he sets the tone from ball one. I have got the utmost faith in him. He is passionate, loves the game, and I can always rely on him towards the end.”
Keeping the faith
A rampaging RCB was 114 for no loss in the 11th over, but Warner said he had not lost faith at that stage.
“I am a firm believer that runs on the board in a final puts pressure, and 208 equals almost 215-220 in these situations. They were ahead of the game, more than 10 an over, but there was no panic from our bowlers,” he stated.
“A guy like Chris Gayle is always going to keep going. I told the bowlers to keep backing themselves. Our plan was to bowl wide and bowl slower balls to him and if he hits them for six: ‘Well done, great shot.’ But we always knew that if we got a wicket or two, it would be harder for the next person to play his shots.”
After finishing third in the table, Sunrisers needed to win three in a row — in the space of five days — to secure the IPL title.
Warner’s own role in the triumph, both as a batsman — 848 runs with nine fifties — and a leader is colossal, but he was reluctant to take much credit.
“It will be inappropriate for me to say that I did it all on my own because I well and truly didn’t,” he said.
“I had two international captains (Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan) with me and a lot of guys giving me ideas. Some people are going to have their days, some aren’t. But you need a couple of individuals to step up from time to time. That’s how you win: everyone contributes.”
In RCB’s case, there simply weren’t enough contributors on the night.