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The moment Darren Sammy hitIqbal Abdullah for a six, he had not only won a lot of hearts in the crowd, but had also sealed a spot in the Playoffs for the Sunrisers. The deafening roar of the crowd accompanied the Sunrisers dugout as they ran to the centre of the pitch to congratulate Sammy.
The home team’s theme song was played at high decibels as the crowd sang along and danced with jubilation. The Sunrisers then took a victory lap in the stadium gifting the crowd with team merchandise along the way.
During the lap, players doused each other with water and energy drinks, while the rest acknowledged the cheers of the crowd.
Sammy did his own version of the ‘Gangnam’ as coach Tom Moody and team mentors Kris Srikkanth and VVS congratulated the team.
Though the excitement began to wane as the stadium emptied, the dressing room mood was still upbeat. There were smiles and hugs all around as phone calls and text messages continued to pour in. “Time of my life”, a song from the movie “Dirty Dancing” echoed in the dressing room along with popular dance numbers; testifying to the amazing feeling of accomplishment.
Amidst all the jubilation, Shikhar Dhawan who played a vital role in SRH’s win against the Knight Riders on Sunday, shared a few moments with IPLT20.com.
Describing the feeling, the opening batsman said, “It is a great feeling to be in the knockouts. It is our first year and we have made it to the Playoffs when not many gave us a chance. At the moment, it is amazing to see our name in the top four.”
Considering not many would have backed SRH to reach this position, it is indeed amazing. They knocked out RCB - one of the tournament favourites and will face the Rajasthan Royals in their Playoffs fixture.
Dhawan credited the team’s success to teamwork. “I believe the reason we have succeeded as a group is because this team is not about any individual. We all gel together and enjoy each other’s success. We stuck to our plans, executed them well and played good cricket. The Sunrisers, known for their strong bowling unit restricted KKR to a total of 130 in the final league encounter.
Dhawan was of the view that SRH were a team that hunted in pairs throughout the tournament. “We have a lethal bowling attack with Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma adding firepower in the beginning and at the death; and we have quality spinners like Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma who thrive in pairs in the mid-innings. We have a similar logic with respect to our batting too.”
Their batting has been patchy in this tournament, with the team unable to put up huge scores. But on Sunday night, openers Parthiv Patel and Dhawan gave the side a strong start to set a perfect platform for the run-chase.
“I feel it was a great opening partnership between me and Parthiv. We got off to a good start and did the job for our team. Also, hats off to Darren Sammy who held his nerve to finish the game for us,” Dhawan said.
On a personal front, the left-handed opener was also happy with the way he was striking the ball, especially after coming back from an injury. “I joined the team a bit late due to my injury but was eager to start playing. I have been consistent in the tournament and I am really happy with my performance this year. I would love to continue this form in the Playoffs,” he said.
“It is a very big win for us. We have done it and it is a big achievement for us to deliver such a good performance in our very first year. We will savour this win for the moment and get ready for the Playoffs,” said Dhawan.
Before their first match of the IPL 2013, Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor Kris Srikkanth spoke about ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ being a crucial aspect to their journey in the tournament. He spoke about creating a vibe of positive energy in the dressing room that would bring the team success.
Now, 46 days, 16 matches, a super over and a hattrick later, Kris Srikkanth is proud of a team that not many gave a chance of making to the playoffs. The Sunrisers hardly have any superstars nor does it boast of big names from the domestic circuit; yet in their very first year, they have made it to the top four of the tournament. With a renewed team, new backstage staff, refurbished hope and a drive to succeed, the Sunrisers now look forward to putting up a similar spirited performance in the playoffs.
Still over the moon after achieving one of their primary targets in the tournament, Kris Srikkanth spoke to IPLT20.com with a joy that knew no bounds. He compared the win to one of India’s most iconic moments in cricketing history; the 1983 World Cup victory which he was a part of.
“My memories went down to the 1983 World Cup. Nobody gave us a chance in the World Cup that year, but we qualified and won at the end of the day. The feeling today is quite similar as no one gave the Sunrisers a chance in the tournament, and today we have qualified for the playoffs,” said an overjoyed Srikkanth.
With a win against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, the Sunrisers have not only booked a playoffs spot but have also knocked out favouritesRoyal Challengers Bangalore out of the tournament. From being labelled as the underdogs, to making it to the final four, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have indeed come a long way.
“If you look at the team, we had the faith and belief that we would make it. Everybody said we were the underdogs, but we were not worried about it. This team is built on teamwork and not individual performance. The core of the team has been the supportive nature of its members. Everybody backed each other through the ups and downs in the tournament which has helped in the team’s success,” said Srikkanth.
A new setup, a new support staff and a renewed team has indeed caught a lot of people by surprise. From game number one to game number sixteen, Srikkanth describes the Sunrisers’ journey in one word – Fantastic.
“The journey for us has been fantastic. Before the start of the tournament, the only thing we told the boys was to play with a lot of passion. They have done exactly that and it is this passion in their hearts that has got the team thus far.”
Srikkanth, who has always believed in the power of the people and positive energy, also credits the people of Hyderabad for the team’s success. “I have always believed in the power of the people. The energy of the people of Hyderabad has been brilliant. They have supported us throughout and this helped create a positive energy that was reflected on the field. Our fans turned up in great numbers for our games and have given us unconditional support.”
When asked what he would tell the team when they meet the Rajasthan Royals in the playoffs, Srikkanth replied with a smile. “Keep playing your natural game. Do not worry or get overburdened by the occasion. Take it one game at a time and the results will follow.”