IPL 2016 Finals: SRH the new champions

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Despite a jaw-dropping batting effort from Chris Gayle and another half-century from Virat Kohli that helped him finish the season with a tally of 973 runs, Sunrisers Hyderabad expertly held their nerves to eke out an eight-run victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore in front of their home fans at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore and to win their maiden Indian Premier League title.

David Warner’s attack-minded move to put the runs on the board in a big encounter paid off handsomely as Sunrisers posted a mammoth 208 for 7. Warner laid a strong foundation with his ninth half-century of the season, before . Ben Cutting gave the finishing tpuch by smashing 39 not out of just 15 balls.

Shane Watson started too full without any protection down the ground and the Sunrisers openers made him pay for it, smashing a straight six each. Gayle too couldn’t quite bowl to his field as Sunrisers raced away to 59 for no wicket in 6 overs.

Yuzvendra Chahal, Royal Challengers’ most successful bowler of the season, managed to break the menacing partnership, using a googly to out Dhawan, whose urge to sweep the ball led to his downfall. Warner continued to show his class scored his 9th fifty off just 24 deliveries. JordanT benefitted from a change of strike as Moises Henriques skied a length delivery on the leg side to give Royal Challengers a lucky break at the half-way stage.

Aravind’s return to the attack gave the packed crowd a bigger reason to cheer, as Warner’s attempted cut shot was caught by Iqbal Abdulla at short third man.

Yuvraj eased the nerves that suddenly cropped up after Warner’s dismissal, by carting a colossal six over wide long off, that landed in the second tier. Sunrisers however, were faced by the similar adversity of a crumbling middle-order as Deepak Hooda fell for a six-ball three and Yuvraj was deceived by a slower ball from Jordan after looking set to make the most of his first IPL final appearance. At 156 for 5 in 17 overs, Sunrisers were staring at a total of around 180, that would’ve still felt a touch below-par against Royal Challengers’ batting might. Ben Cutting, however, walked out and addressed that concern to a great extent.

Cutting matched Yuvraj’s efforts, sending a ball over the roof (a six of 117 meters)   in a 24-run final over that left Watson with forgettable figures of none for 61 and Sunrisers with a total of 208 for seven.

Gayle took to the occasion of chasing a total in excess of 200 by reverting to his devastating best in the powerplay overs. Barinder SranGayle collected 16 off Sran’s second over with two sixes and a four. A warmed-up Gayle gave Cutting an early insight into what it feels to be at the receiving end of an onslaught as Royal Challengers brought up 50 in the fifth over.

Mustafizur Rahman managed to put a lid on the frenzied beginning, but his four-run over meant very little as Gayle continued to go after the rest of the bowlers and collect sixes for fun. That the fielding restrictions were relaxed made very difference to his approach to six-hitting as he lifted the Royal Challengers from 57 from 6 overs to 100 off 9, including a 21-run over off Moises Henriques. Warner was forced to bring back Mustafizur early in search of a wicket, but Kohli, who had been a silent partner till that over, welcomed him with a four and a six as Royal Challengers’ target at the half-way stage had been dwarfed by more than half.

Just as Gayle looked set to score his sixth IPL century, he miscued a heave and departed for a 38-ball 76, an innings laced with four fours and eight sixes. The wicket brought respite for Sunrisers but the fact that Kohli had just begun to settle in didn’t bode too well for them. There seemed to be a seamless transition of run-scoring from Gayle to Kohli as the Royal Challengers skipper kept his opponents on their toes. He went on to bring up 11th fifty-plus score this IPL.

With Gayle back in the pavilion, Warner saw an opportunity to bring back Sran, a move that worked wonders. Kohli stepped out early to carve a superb inside-out loft over extra cover for a six to score his seventh half-century of the season, but his attempt to replicate his effort two balls later resulted in his dismissal as an inside edge crashed onto the stumps. Kohli walked back, annoyed with himself while Sunrisers huddled together with a real sense of belief.

AB de Villiers’s fall just six balls later brought the game back on level-pegging, with Shane Watson and KL Rahul needing to score 60 off the last six overs.

Rahul’s wicket in the 15th over left Watson with a massive task at hand. Mustafizur returned for his final spell and denied Watson the chance to Royal Challengers’ hero as the Australian misread a slow-cutter and perished to a catch at cover by Henriques. A pumped-up Bhuvneshwar began the 18th over with a yorker that beat Stuart Binny but missed the leg stump. Only three runs came off the next four deliveries before Sachin Baby’s reverse-sweep raced away to the third man fence, leaving the Royal Challengers with 30 to chase from last 12 deliveries.

The penultimate over of the chase, by Mustafizur, began with the run out of Stuart Binny but Baby kept his side in the hunt with a six off the final ball, narrowing the equation to 18 off Bhuvneshwar’s final over. Amidst palpable tension between overs, there was a moment to chuckle as the crowd began to chant ‘Sachin…Sachin’, clearly for the Sachin at the crease, rather than the one cricket fans are used to applauding over the years.

In the end, there were shades of the final from 2009 when Royal Challengers looked all set to triumph against a side from Hyderabad, before the proceedings took a dramatic turn and they ended up with the runners-up medal.

Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 208/7 in 20 overs (David Warner 69, Ben Cutting 39*; Chris Jordan 3-45) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 200/7 in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 76, Virat Kohli 54; Ben Cutting 2-35) by eight runs

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