Most newspapers and media reports are agog with the description of David Warner’s single-handed control of the successful 163-run chase against Gujarat Lions on Friday. The Australian’s huge commitment took Sunrisers Hyderabad to the final. It may look odd to mention but despite Warner’s creditable effort, SRH could still have fallen short if Bipul Sharma had not come up with an 11-ball 27 runs cameo at crunch time. But Sharma will not get the same credit as his skipper. On Sunday, SRH will lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore for the 2016 IPL Trophy at the Chinnaswamy stadium at Bengaluru. If one were to look back now, both teams played identical cricket, lost plenty of wickets and batsmen on either side struggled with the scoring. In the end, one team had to win and it happened to be Hyderabad. The 2016 IPL season truly belonged to the captains and most of them led from front and succeeded. Virat Kohli has already logged more than 900 runs and David Warner carried his season’s total past 700 on Friday. Others like Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay also got themselves among runs. But while there are stories of contributors in other teams, SRH’s scoring has been heavily dependent on David Warner. In the final push on Friday the SRH skipper did his job well and was well rewarded in the end. Now, he has just one more hurdle to cross.
When Gujarat Lions set a 163-run victory target for Sunrisers Hyderabad, everyone knew that it could reach there as long as David Warner stayed at the crease. This author began to watch the SRH chase with two highly interested and cricket crazy children Aryan and Aditi, both under 10 years of age. We decided to switch off the TV if Warner got out. As it transpired, we saw the titanic struggle that the SRH skipper faced with his colleagues leaving him one by one. The undaunted Warner, however, kept us engrossed till the winning runs were scored. Earlier in the evening, Warner had won the toss and asked Gujarat Lions to bat first. Opener Eklavya Dwivedi couldn’t last more than 5 balls to yield a first-over wicket to SRH. In less than 4 overs, GL found themselves in more trouble, when Suresh Raina was trapped leg-before-wicket by Trent Boult. However, Brendon McCullum and Dinesh Karthik settled down to add 44 runs for the third wicket before Karthik fell a run-out victim in the 9th over. Soon, McCullum also departed holing out to the deep. 81/4 in 12 overs was under 7 runs per over and GL didn’t seem to be going anywhere. But they found a savior in Aaron Finch. The Australian flayed SRH bowling with gay abandon and in the company of Ravindra Jadeja (19 off 15) and Dwayne Bravo (20 off 10), he lifted GL out of the ditch. Finch departed in 18th over for 50 scored off 32 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. The GL innings produced 162/7.
At the start of SRH’s 163-run chase, Shikhar Dhawan was caught short of the crease in attempting a second run with Brendon McCullum’s throw crashing the stumps. While Warner was keeping the tempo of scoring from one end, he watched the other batsmen walking in and walking out. The first to leave was Moises Henriques. After facing 6 balls, Henriques got impatient and spooned a catch to the cover. Out came Yuvraj Singh and he lasted only 11 balls for his 8 runs. Deepak Hooda and Ben Cutting were next to go and SRH were in trouble at 84/5 in the 13th over. With almost 80 runs needed at nearly 11 per over, Lions looked like the likely finalists. Warner now had Naman Ojha as his partner. Ojha hung around until the 16th over before he too left the lone ranger Warner. Now it was 117/6 with Warner batting on 74. SRH still required 46 off 25 and the game could have gone either way. It was here that Warner found his ablest ally. Bipul Sharma is in the team as a bowler but he began by taking 11 runs from the first over he faced and contributed another 9 from the next. With 24 needed from 12, Warner began the 19th over with 4, 2, 2, 4 and 1. Off the last ball, Bipul stepped out and lofted Bravo to long on for a huge 6. Everything fell in place with 5 runs to get from the last 6 balls. But Warner needed only 2. He banged Bhuvi Kumar for 4 off the first ball and ran a single off the second before launching himself into a frenzy of celebration. The SRH captain won the day for his team but honestly he couldn’t have done it alone in the end. Howsoever committed Warner was, he knew the true worth of Bipul Sharma’s 11-ball 27 that played a vital part in SRH’s victory. Gujarat Lions didn’t bowl badly with Shivil Kaushik, Dhawal Kulkarni and Dwayne Bravo making things hot for SRH batsmen but the gutsy Warner proved too much in the end.