Have been at the receiving end of great knocks: Aaron Finch
Priding himself on being extremely agile and in the field, David Warner kept his disappointment under the wraps as Sunrisers Hyderabad let Gujarat Lions off the hook. Having them on the mat with 84 for 5 at one stage, Barinder Sran's spilt chance of Aaron Finch, who came in at No.5, cost them dearly. The burly Australian went on to score a half-century to help Lions finish with a par score of 162 for 7 at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Friday (May 27).
"I thought it was a very competitive total," Finch said, after the four-wicket loss on Friday (May 28). "There was no dew or anything out there and we have seen it slow up as the game's gone on. We would always like more runs, there is no secret to that but I think that 162 was around par."
Sunrisers had a poor start and found themselves at the same juncture in the 13th over at 84 for 5. However, they had their captain, Warner, who was fighting on resolutely. Warner was running out of partners as batsmen walked in and walked out at regular intervals. With the lack of substantial partnerships, it looked like Sunrisers wouldn't last too long with momentum tilting in Lions' favour.
The twist in the tale, however, came after Naman Ojha holed out in the deep, as Bipul Sharma joined Warner in the middle. Bipul showed his ability to clear the ropes in the last game against Kolkata Knight Riders after hitting two big hits off Morne Morkel. On the night, he cleared the fence three times, running hard between the wickets as Warner was playing to the situation suitably at the other end. The pair put on 46 runs in 25 balls to see their side through to the final of the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League with a four-wicket win.
"We just couldn't break that partnership," rued Finch. "We knew that he (Bipul) could hit some big sixes. I think he got 27 off 11 balls. Batting at No. 8 there, we probably expected him to get David on strike but he played a beautiful knock in his own right. But no one ever takes you by surprise. You see so many players, you see so many games in this tournament that you are very rarely caught off guard. But that was some beautiful striking as well and probably just a little bit of mis-execution a couple of times.
"At the end of the day, you have to take your hat off to a great team. They performed beautifully and that's the third time they have beaten us, so they probably had the wood over us unfortunately. I think we continued to take wickets right throughout the innings which was fantastic, we just couldn't get Davey out unfortunately and that really hurt us."
A cautious Warner had to once again take up the responsibility when the team lost early wickets. He delivered to the need of the hour, taking the odd boundaries when the opportunity presented itself and keeping the scoreboard ticking. It was only towards the end, when Sunrisers needed acceleration with 66 required in the last six, he took on the Dwaynes, first Smith and then Bravo, with two 19-run overs that changed the equation. Warner eventually ended the innings with successive fours in the last over, racing home with four balls to spare. He remained unbeaten on 93 off 58, an innings which comprised of 11 fours and three sixes.
"It was an amazing knock, wasn't it?" Finch said. "The way that he controlled the innings the whole way through and went right through and got them home was outstanding. We have been at the receiving end of a couple of great knocks in this tournament and it is just that one batter in every couple of games seems to get us. AB in the last game and Davey tonight.
"We can hold our head up very high. We played some really great cricket throughout this tournament but unfortunately we just couldn't get them world-class players out when it counted right at the end there.
"Tonight, I think that we had a very competitive total, it was around par. 170 would have been nice, as it turns out, but two of the best players in the world have both got big scores against us in the last two games. Sometimes you just have to take your hat off and appreciate how good a cricketers them two are and say well played."
Finch is right to say that Gujarat should be proud after a great season that saw them finish on top of the table. Starting their tournament with a hat-trick of wins and barring the blip of losing to Sunrisers early on, they had six wins in seven games - an IPL record. From there, they have had a bit of a rough patch, winning only three of their last seven games in the league stage. But for a new franchise to come together and perform the way the did, the side definitely needs to be given their fair share of credit.
"I think the way that we played throughout the tournament was fantastic from the team's point of view. To finish top of the table for a franchise in their first year was fantastic. I think it's obviously disappointing that we couldn't get through to the final but the way that we fought and fought... We had our back up against the wall a couple of times. We started off the tournament fantastic, I think we went six wins, one loss and then we had a bit of a down period but then we hit back hard and beat two outstanding teams in Kolkata and Mumbai coming into the finals. But it goes to show what an amazing competition it was. If we had lost one of them games, we finish out of the four but we won both and we finish top of the table. Same with Bangalore. It was an amazing tournament all around, the way that it unfolded.
"I think we have seen an unusual spinner in this tournament in Shivil. He has been outstanding for us. Anyone who can bowl with an unusual action like that and who can spin the ball both ways is a huge asset and he has been outstanding. It was beautiful the way that he bowled tonight, under pressure in a big game, to come back into the team after a few games out, just shows a real lot of character and someone who hasn't had cricket given to him easily. He has had to work very hard for what he has achieved. He was outstanding, he was great all season and I think he can play a big part going forward," he concluded.