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Sunrisers Hyderabad team poses for a photograph as the players celebrate their victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore after the trophy presentation in the IPL final in Bengaluru. Photo: AFP
Sunrisers Hyderabad team poses for a photograph as the players celebrate their victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore after the trophy presentation in the IPL final in Bengaluru. Photo: AFP

David Warner’s IPL success mantras: Staying calm, hunting in a pack

David Warner's Sunrisers Hyderabad kept an inexorable tryst with destiny, pulling off an eight-run win to walk away with the IPL 2016 title

At various stages during the first two-thirds of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s chase on Sunday night, it appeared as if the highest score in an IPL final just would not suffice as far as Sunrisers Hyderabad were concerned. As it turned out, David Warner’s men kept an inexorable tryst with destiny, pulling off an eight-run win to emulate their erstwhile city counterparts Deccan Chargers and walk away with the Indian Premier League 2016 title.

Even when Chris Gayle was raining sixes and Virat Kohli extending his incredible form to yet another innings, Hyderabad kept their wits about them, believing that they had the resources at the death to pull the fat out of the fire. Once it came down to 47 off the last four overs—to be sent down by Purple Cap winner Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Emerging Player winner Mustafizur Rahman—it was almost a given that Hyderabad would be unstoppable even if 47 off 24 these days is pretty much in the batting side’s favour.

Bangalore raced to 100 in nine overs and were 114 in the 11th when Gayle was finally dismissed for a 38-ball 76. Warner said even when Gayle was going great guns, there was no dearth of confidence in his players. “One of the things that go through your mind where a guy like Chris Gayle is concerned, he’ll always keep going. The hardest thing is to try and maintain our composure while he’s going and playing like this. For me, when I spoke to the bowlers, I told them to keep backing themselves and our plan was to bowl wide to him and bowl slower balls," revealed Warner. “If he hits you for six, then so be it ‘well done, great shot’. We always knew if we get a wicket, or two wickets, it is going to be hard for the next person to come in and play their shots. So for us, it was about staying composed and having belief. That the players did have when we were out there."

Hyderabad’s was a topsy-turvy innings. They began brightly through Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, and when Yuvraj Singh blazed away, 200 appeared a given. A typically soft middle-order collapse then seemed to set them back before Ben Cutting applied devastating finishing touches with an unbeaten 39 off just 15 deliveries, propelling them to 208 for 7. “I thought at one stage there that we might have struggled to get 180-190," conceded Warner.

“It was an exceptional knock and a great performance from Ben Cutting to come out and do what he did. We go back to the auction with the belief of our coach Tom (Moody) and (mentor VVS) Laxman, who had the belief that we needed another allrounder to be there just in case Moises (Henriques) was not fit or unable to play. But it worked that he played with us and adds a string to our bow and it paid off tonight at this venue.

“It will be inappropriate for me to say that I did it all on my own, that I made decisions myself because I well and truly didn’t. I had a lot of guys talking to me, on the boundary, whether coming on the field, Tom (Moody) himself. I had a lot of ideas bouncing off me and it was up to me to make the decision but without them guys coming to me and giving me the ideas, we wouldn’t be here today with the trophy sitting next to me and Tom."

“I am a firm believer that runs on the board in a final situation puts pressure on, and 208 to me equals almost 215-220 in these situations. But we knew that if they get off to a good start, it was always about staying calm. They were ahead of the game, they were more than 10 an over, and there was no panic from our bowlers. The best thing I can say about our bowling unit and being accountable as bowlers is they executed what they wanted to bowl. Yeah we won, but even if we were on the other side of the result, they kept on believing and backing themselves to execute what they go out to every day.

“The one thing I must say is an outstanding performance by Bhuvneshwar Kumar this whole tournament and obviously the emerging Mustafizur Rahman. It’s a credit to them, the way that they have played this whole tournament. Bhuvi has been in and out of the Indian team but to me, he is a world-class finisher and with the new ball, 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, the way that he plays his cricket. He is passionate, he loves the game, I can always rely on him towards the end. And Mustafizur, another promising player from Bangladesh. Hope he keeps staying fit and strong and hope I don’t have to come up against him too much too often as well."

It was Hyderabad’s third knockout—and therefore high-pressure—game in five nights, but Warner said the team hadn’t approached the playoffs thinking about that at all. “We don’t talk too much about what we have to go out there and do. It’s about having the belief inside ourselves to execute. As I say, keep saying all the time, executing what each individual has to on the day. People are going to have their days, some people aren’t. But you need a couple of individuals to step up from time to time and what happens when you play these team games, that’s how you win. Everyone contributes. The last three games, we knew we had to win all three games to win the IPL and credit to everyone. We have been able to achieve that, and by all means, we are going to celebrate tonight."

Warner had a great run with the bat and as captain, finishing as the second highest run-getter behind Virat Kohli and masterminding many a tricky chase. But as a good leader would, he played his part down and said the triumph was a victory for team effort. “It is not about me, it is about the team. I have said this from the start: it takes a team to win a tournament," he reiterated.

“The success that we have now at the moment, that we are going to really enjoy tonight, goes down to all the support the team gets, that is from off the field: that is from the boss, the chairman, his wife, our support staff, the players that don’t play, the eleven players who walk out on the field. It comes down to a team effort and it is a family effort. And that is why we are here today with the cup."

And what of the luxury of having two international captains—Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan—in the side, neither of whom really got much game time? “The plus that I had was I had two international captains with me. It will be inappropriate for me to say that I did it all on my own, that I made decisions myself because I well and truly didn’t. I had a lot of guys talking to me, on the boundary, whether coming on the field, Tom himself. I had a lot of ideas bouncing off me and it was up to me to make the decision but without them guys coming to me and giving me the ideas, we wouldn’t be here today with the trophy sitting next to me and Tom at this press conference.

“The knowledge you get around this game, it is always going to be available there, but whether or not you used that and how you used that. For me, it was about getting all the information from these guys and using it to the best of my ability. For me, it is about the players being accountable for themselves from the get-go and that is what we did as a team – we backed each other, we backed each other’s skill."

Mint has a content partnership with Wisden India for the IPL 9 season.

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