Skipper David Warner’s sparkling half century helped Sunrisers Hyderabad survive a punishing blitz by Chris Gayle to edge out Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight runs in the Indian Premier League final on Sunday.
Defending 208 to claim their maiden IPL title, Hyderabad restricted Virat Kohli’s Bangalore to 200 for seven at the M Chinnaswamy stadium with Gayle’s 38-ball 76 in vain.
With 18 runs required off the final over, pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar — the leading wicket taker of the season with 23 scalps — gave away just nine as the Hyderabad players celebrated amid fireworks.
Electing to bat first, Hyderabad rode on entertaining knocks from Australia’s Warner and Ben Cutting to post a mammoth 208 for seven in 20 overs.
“Fantastic team achievement. To lead this side and the support from the players, me pulling my weight with the runs, it has been a hard journey. It’s a team effort,” a delighted Warner said after the triumph.
If Warner laid a solid foundation with his ninth fifty of this IPL season then fellow Aussie Cutting finished it off with an unbeaten 39 off 15 deliveries.
Left-handed Warner (69), who accumulated 848 runs in 17 matches, gave the team a rollicking 63-run start with opener Shikhar Dhawan (28).
Warner smashed the ball to all parts of the ground and took a special liking to Shane Watson whose opening over — the fifth of the innings — cost 18 runs.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who remained the team’s top wicket taker of the season with 21, got the first breakthrough in Dhawan who mistimed a slog sweep to deep square leg.
Warner, whose 38-ball knock was laced with eight fours and three sixes, kept up the run rate, forcing Kohli to juggle with his bowling options.
England medium-pacer Chris Jordan (3-45) replaced left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah in the 10th over to send Australia’s Moises Henriques trudging back to the dug out.
Aravind got the prized scalp of Warner, who threw away his wicket while trying to slash at a widish delivery and got caught at short third man.
Veteran India batsman Yuvraj Singh took over from where Warner left off, smacking 38 runs from 23 balls to keep the momentum going.
The Bangalore bowlers kept coming back to get wickets in between but could never arrest the flow of runs.
The last five overs saw the back of four Hyderabad batsmen, but Cutting’s late blitz allowed the side to bag 68 runs from the final 30 deliveries.
“To win in Bangalore, we were underdogs. But, we batted well, bowled well and fielded well,” said Warner.
Chasing a record total in the final, Gayle struck from the start, raining sixes with medium-pacers Barinder Sran and Cutting taking a severe beating.
The burly Jamaican stole the spotlight away from fellow opener and season’s top run getter Kohli to notch up his second fifty of this edition in just 25 balls.
The duo, who stitched a 114-run partnership, took away 21 runs from a Moises Henriques’ over as Bangalore brought up their hundred in just nine overs to enthral the raucous crowd.
Cutting gave Hyderabad their first breakthrough to send back the dangerous Gayle, who smoked four fours and eight sixes during his 38-ball stay at the crease.
Kohli (54), who registered 973 runs this season including four centuries and seven fifties, was the next to go, hitting five fours and two sixes in his 35-ball knock.
Star batsman AB de Villiers soon followed Kohli into the dug-out, giving the Hyderabad bowlers a chance to get back into the game.
Cutting (2-35) seized the moment to clean up Lokesh Rahul for 11 and with Shane Watson gone for the same score off Mustafizur Rahman, RCB started to lose their way into the chase.
In the end Sachin Baby tried his best to match up the ever increasing asking rate with his 10-ball 18 not out, but RCB had to stay content with their third runners up finish in the cash-rich league.
“We are proud of the way we played as a team. This was for the people of Bangalore. Even when we had the worst seasons, they were there for us,” said Kohli.
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