On this day last year, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) vanquished Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to clinch their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title. In what was a riveting encounter at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, David Warner’s men held their nerve to pull the rug under their more fancied opponent’s feet and proceeded to complete a remarkable 8-run triumph.
Chasing a daunting total, RCB were cruising at one stage. In front of their adoring home fans, they appeared to be on the path to victory before a flurry of wickets in the middle-overs opened the proverbial can of worms. The pressure of the big game started taking effect as the batsmen began to lose their way. A sterling comeback by SRH’s resolute bowling attack proved to be the difference between the two teams on a pulsating night.
Let us relive the events of the thrilling final of the 2016 IPL edition.
Ben provides the ‘Cutting’ edge
It all began when Warner won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first on a typically docile track at the venue. Eager to lead from the front, the Australian took his team off to a blazing start in the company of fellow left-hander Shikhar Dhawan. The Indian batsman, though, had his fair share of luck as Chris Gayle dropped a regular return catch in the second over of the match.
Shane Watson’s insipid medium-pace allowed the opening duo to break the shackles and establish a strong foundation at the top of the order. While trying to get on top of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, Dhawan was dismissed just after the Power Play ended.
Warner continued to take the attack to Royal Challengers’ bowlers. Targeting the spinners for his fiery onslaught, he brought up his 9th half-century of the season with a powerful shot through the covers. The southpaw could have succumbed in the very next ball had makeshift wicket-keeper KL Rahul held on to an opportunity behind the stumps.
But SRH’s skipper perished during the 13th over when Sreenath Aravind coerced a risk-laden shot from him. Meanwhile, at the other end, Yuvraj Singh produced a dazzling array of strokers to keep the momentum going. He smashed 38 in quick time and controlled the flow of the innings. When it seemed like he was set for a significant score, the seasoned campaigner was deceived by a slower delivery from Chris Jordan.
Before the last three overs began, Sunrisers were precariously placed at 156/5. Even as RCB were entertaining thoughts of a polished finish, all-rounder Ben Cutting came out of nowhere and hammered a 15-ball 39 to take the total past the 200-run mark.
He was particularly severe against countryman Watson who ended the innings with deplorable figures of 0/61. The final over alone saw Cutting smash 3 sixes and a boundary. His blistering cameo helped SRH reach 208.
RCB falter at the last hurdle
Undeterred by the prospect of a stiff chase, RCB responded strongly through an imposing opening partnership between Gayle and captain Virat Kohli. While the former got going by laying into the unsuspecting Barinder Sran, the latter smartly fed him the strike and kept the scoreboard moving.
The hosts plundered as many as 59 runs from the Power Play overs to keep the opposition on their toes. During the first half of the innings, the openers never allowed Sunrisers to have a sniff at them. Operating with clinical precision, they motored along promisingly and did not let the required run-rate slip out of control. Moises Henriques’s wayward bowling certainly helped in that regard.
Following up on his game-changing knock, Cutting delivering a telling blow with the ball to turn the contest on its head. The wily seamer managed to get rid of the dangerous Gayle with a clever piece of variation. Upon reaching yet another fifty, Kohli's exuberance proved to be his own undoing as Sran acquired the prized scalp of the match.
Things soon became worse for RCB when AB de Villiers was prised out too. Sensing the window of opening, SRH began to target the underwhelming middle-order in a relentless manner. With Warner complementing the efforts of the bowlers by manoeuvring his fielders diligently, the visitors saw the back of KL Rahul and Watson to put themselves in the driver’s seat.
Even though they needed 37 runs from the last three overs, the home team did not have any set batsman in the middle. Finding the block hole with admirable frequency, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman held their own in the death overs to seal a pulsating victory.
Sunrisers were deservedly crowned champions for the 2016 season. Meanwhile, in the other camp, Kohli had to remain content with the Orange Cap as RCB slumped to their third defeat in IPL finals.