BANGALORE, India, May 30, (AFP): Captain David Warner hailed Sunrisers Hyderabad for staying cool in the heat of an Indian Premier League final to claim their maiden title at the home of opponents Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Hyderabad, defending 208 to win at M. Chinnaswamy stadium, survived a deadly opening blitz from big-hitting West Indian Chris Gayle to eke out an eight-run victory late on Sunday.
Australian Warner led by example after winning the toss and electing to bat, hitting a sparkling half-century — his ninth of the IPL season — as Hyderabad posted a massive 208.
But Gayle came out with all guns blazing, hitting four fours and eight sixes in a 38-ball 76. He put together a 114-run opening stand with Virat Kohli (54) to give Bangalore hope, but Hyderabad’s bowlers stayed focused.
“A guy like Chris Gayle, he is always going to keep going. The hardest thing is to try and maintain our composure while he is going and playing like this,” Warner told reporters.
“So for us it was about staying composed and having belief and that’s what the players showed when we were out there,” he added.
Hyderabad got the breakthrough they needed in the 11th over when Gayle was caught by Bipul Sharma off Ben Cutting.
Kohli, who topped the season’s batting chart with 973 runs from 16 matches, then tried to pilot the chase but was cleaned up by Barinder Sran.
South African batsman AB de Villiers also departed soon after and the wheels started to come off for Bangalore in the face of a resilient Hyderabad attack, with man-of-the-match Cutting finishing with 2-35.
Earlier Warner’s 38-ball 69, which was laced with eight fours and three sixes, laid a solid foundation for Hyderabad before Cutting swelled the total with an unbeaten 39 off 15 balls.
The left-handed Warner, who accumulated 848 runs in 17 matches, was the driving force behind Hyderabad’s title-winning season but he singled out a number of his team-mates for praise.
“It takes a team to win a tournament,” he said.
“The plus that I had was I had two international captains (Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan) with me.
“I would also credit Bhuvneshwar Kumar and rising Bangladesh star Mustafizur Rahman for their contributions,” the skipper added.
Meanwhile, Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla told AFP that this year’s edition of the cash-rich extravaganza had been free of corruption thanks to a multi-pronged approach to tackling fixing.
In an interview shortly before Sunday’s final, Shukla said organisers engaged the anti-graft unit of the International Cricket Council (ICC), local police and the expertise of a former top cop.
The IPL is the most popular domestic league in the world but has been plagued by controversies since its inception in 2008, with corruption and match-fixing cases often taking centre-stage.
A spot-fixing scandal in 2013 led to two teams — Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals — being suspended last year for two seasons.
Shukla said an aggressive approach to tackling fixing meant there had been no signs of corruption at the ninth edition of the IPL, which featured 60 matches in 57 days across 11 venues.
“All precautions were taken in order to curb corruption and we have been successful in that,” Shukla told AFP in Bangalore, before Sunrisers Hyderabad’s eight-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“We engaged the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit. We also relied on the expertise of our board’s anti-corruption unit led by Neeraj Kumar.
“We also spoke to Mumbai police and said that if we need any assistance, they should be ready for it,” Shukla added.
In earlier editions the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which runs the IPL, has not always called upon the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit.
Kumar is a former commissioner of Delhi police and an ex-joint director of India’s leading investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation.
He investigated cricket’s biggest match-fixing scandal, involving former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje back in 2000 and the 2013 IPL scandal involving Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.
Sreesanth, a Rajasthan Royals bowler, was banned for life along with team-mates Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila for their involvement in the spot-fixing and betting scandal.