Various members of Kings XI Punjab team had put up swashbuckling performances throughout Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014, and it was Wriddhiman Saha’s turn in the Final. The wicketkeeper-batsman entertained the crowd with an unbeaten 55-ball 115 as he took his team to 199 after they were asked to bat first by the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Coming in to bat at 30 for two, Saha bided his time before he took apart the KKR attack to race to his century and hence becoming the first player to strike a ton in an IPL Final. He swept, hooked and pulled as he piled on runs before reaching the three-figure mark with a six over long-on off Sunil Narine. Although he received a life while on 60, the wiry batsman continued unperturbed as he helped set the opposition a formidable target.
However, his heroics went in vain as the Gautam Gambhir-led side chased down that target. A visibly disappointed Saha reflected on his knock and appreciated KKR’s Manish Pandey’s (94) innings while speaking to IPLT20.com about the match.
Excerpts from his interview:
You became the first player to score a century in an IPL Final.
It would have felt better if the team would have won. The team winning means more than your performance. The century was good. We made a good comeback after being 30 for two to set the opposition a good target.
What did you think would have been a good target?
We didn’t have a good start, but we recovered well. We were thinking that 180 would have been a good total. We scored 199, but fell short somewhere. Now, we feel that maybe if we had more runs on the board, it would have been better. Everyone tried hard for the win, however, KKR played well too. Manish Pandey and Yusuf bhai (Pathan) did well.
Talk us through your 129-run partnership with Manan Vohra. What were you telling each other?
We had a good partnership once before, against Sunrisers Hyderabad. He has been batting well since. When we went in to bat, the idea was only to keep rotating the strike and hit the loose deliveries. And as the partnership progressed, the confidence also grew and we were hitting good shots. What was your brief while coming in to bat?
My role in the team has been to rotate strike and try and get as many boundaries as possible, especially in the first six overs. And even if I come in to bat later, it is the same – to score as many runs as possible and keep the scoreboard moving. And the more opportunities Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey get to hit, the better it is. Whoever is settled and hitting the ball well, has to see the team through to the end. And today, I was the one doing it.
What was the thought behind George Bailey promoting himself to No.3?
We tried that because their pacers bowl initially and George Bailey plays the pacers better. Had he been able to get runs, then maybe we would have had a higher total on the board.
How would you sum up the season?
The journey has been good. Earlier, I have played for KKR and Chennai Super Kings, and it has been good, but it has been exceptionally good and fun because if you play a lot of games together in domestic cricket and here, that’s good.