SRH changed the very nature of T20 cricket - if that does not make them the winners of IPL 2024, what does?

SRH were a beast of a different nature this IPL. [Hyd FC Twitter]
SRH were a beast of a different nature this IPL. [SRH -X]

One bad game. Was it all that ended SunRisers Hyderabad's (SRH) hopes of earning the title of the champions of IPL 2024? Or was it, for lack of better words, the depletion of faith in their strengths?

Or was it, to quote the better read amongst us, the lack of conviction in the dispersibility of their nature? All who know their Orwell know that SRH did not lose the IPL over one night, just as they would not have won it in one either.

If things were far from the Dickenesque times that we, unfortunately, do not live in anymore, SRH would still be called the rightful winners of this season's IPL, and Kolkata Knight Riders its mere pretenders.

However, we have to live for practical reasons just as much for aesthetic ones; for matters of statistics - or facts (whichever sounds better to the untrained ear) - KKR did indeed beat SRH by eight wickets in the final in Chennai on Sunday, May 26.

That it happened to be the final was not lost on all but the handful of supporters choosing to make the long trek by the overnight train from Nampally, and even as the Eagles collapsed like ninepins on a night devoid of sanctity, they cheered.

Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma - the men who carried SRH on their bare shoulders throughout the tournament - were torn apart by the dice rolled by Shreyas Iyer; the executioners Mitchell Starc and Vaibhav Arora seemed merely puppets in his hands.

Once the top order was broken into, there was hardly anything for KKR to subsist on - yes, there was the threat of a certain Heinrich Klaasen who amazingly wears his wicketkeeping pads underneath his trousers - and raw confidence pulled them through.

SRH changed how T20 cricket will be viewed from now

SRH would, by now, have had quite a bit of time to analyze what went wrong for them on Sunday - it would be painful not to - but the revulsion gained from losing out on what was rightfully theirs may not have sunk in.

This side - the very same who had ended as the wooden spooners last season - changed the way T20 cricket was viewed across the world, and how fortuitous is that to do it in the course of a single IPL campaign?

Pat Cummins and Head - both winners of the ODI World Cup in India last year - surely played major roles in this, but the trust the management showed in their domestic players did the trick for them.

Nitish Kumar Reddy, Abhishek Sharma and Abdul Samad were but a few finds for them this season, as was the excellent form shown by the experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Tripathi, and T Natarajan, among others.

Head coach Daniel Vettori can fly back from Hyderabad with the peace of knowing that he and his wards gave it their best, and tried hard not to remain embittered by the fact a title is decided over the course of one night.

Truth be told, KKR outplayed (and even outsmarted SRH) on the night, just as they had done on two separate occasions earlier this season, earning the bragging right of having beaten them 3-0 this year on head-to-head encounters.

The Eagles - known to soar high above the clouds of mediocrity - will come back to their perch with the discomfort of knowing that there was one team better than them this season, who - dare I say it - perhaps deserved the title more than them if pure numbers were taken into consideration.

Cricket, as we know it, will not be the same (remember, the IPL has the T20 World Cup in June to compete with in terms of prestige, status, and viewership) and if that does not make SRH the rightful winner of IPL 2024, then we might just as well be living in a fool's paradise.

KKR got the trophy, but SRH got the accolades as well as the epithet of being the side that changed the very nature and texture of our beautiful sport - who exactly won this IPL then?

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