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He danced his way to the podium; he broke into a jig with his teammates and his joy knew no bounds the moment the final ball was bowled and Sunrisers Hyderabad were declared champions of VIVO IPL 2016. Among the many broad smiles and amidst a run of emotions, Yuvraj Singh took center stage in the orange huddle singing the team song loud and clear. There were hugs, a round of applause, those customary jokes to crack, but at the end of it all - a moment to savour and cherish for years to come. Yuvraj Singh has been a part of two World cup victories but an IPL victory had been devoid for long - until tonight. This one was special and Yuvraj had a special corner in his heart for this victory.
“It is an amazing feeling to win an IPL Trophy. I have won the World Cups but never won an IPL trophy. I have been playing this tournament for eight years now but never won it. Tonight that moment has finally come,” said Yuvraj expressing his emotions post the IPL win. “I had never tasted the sweetness of an IPL trophy and this is something really amazing. At the moment this trophy will go right on top in my trophy cabinet. This one will go along with my World Cup victories.”
For a man who has been a fighter in its true sense, his campaign has had its fair share of ups and downs. He had to battle injuries that ruled him out of the first half of the tournament, but Yuvraj fought his way back and became one of the vital cogs of Sunrisers’ victorious IPL campaign. He showed flashes of the past with his blade and those towering sixes continued to enthrall his fans irrespective of the venue. Yuvraj, who was playing for a new franchise, was in awe of the way the team had bonded over the tenure of the IPL.
“They are a great bunch of boys and foreign players. It is an exciting bunch of youngsters and we gelled together really well,” he said. “We spent a lot of time together off the field which came in handy when the times were tough for the team. When we didn’t quite qualify in the top two, we knew that if we played to our potential, we would make it to the final and win it. We got it the hard way, though we were leading the table at one stage. We won our way into the final and I am glad we could seal it tonight. David Warner had an outstanding tournament as a batsman and as a captain. He took us all the way. Everybody had some part to play and have time and again put meaningful contributions for the side.”
On the final night, in a high pressure game, scoring two hundred plus against Royal Challengers Bangalore at home was no mean feat. And then, to defend that score against a strong RCB batting line-up was an effort applause worthy, reckoned Yuvraj. “Two hundred runs is a par score over here because it is a small ground and a very good wicket. We stuck together when the game was shifting away from us. Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli batted beautifully. But we just needed to stick together and take a few wickets. We fielded well and in the end we became winners. We stuck to our plans in the end and we bowled in the really good areas. It was a great team effort by the boys tonight.”
Though part of a champion side, Yuvraj was gracious enough to applaud the opposition. “They have had a fantastic tournament and to comeback by winning six or seven games in a row to qualify for the final is huge. Virat (Kohli) has had a sensational tournament and they had a very dangerous batting line-up.”
Amidst the confetti pour, flashbulbs and the fireworks as David Warner held the IPL trophy aloft at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Yuvraj Singh did a few push-ups near the podium. The strong lad, the man of comebacks, the man with an unflinching willpower had yet again shown where mental strength and self confidence can take you. He had done it in the past, just that the stages had changed.
Numbers don’t always tell the complete story and that would hold true for Barinder Sran in the VIVO IPL 2016 final. While Sunrisers Hyderabad won the high-scoring final, the pacer finished with figures of 1 for 41. However, that one wicket was that of Virat Kohli.
Speaking about the significance of the wicket, Sran said, “It is a big thing because that is where the game changed. If he had played a longer innings then he would have finished the game sooner. He was looking to hit every ball. So we were trying for wickets and trying to create pressure and that helped.”
The Royal Challengers Bangalore captain had taken apart attacks throughout the season and had almost seemed unstoppable. As long as the Orange Cap holder was at the crease, the 209-run target seemed gettable. He, along with Chris Gayle, claimed 13 runs off the SRH bowler in his first over to set the chase on course. However, the team kept Sran’s spirits up. At the end of the over the message from the dugout was, “continue to bowl at the length you are bowling; no problem (as) they are going to go for the big hits anyway.”
Speaking about the bowling attack’s plans, Sran added, “The plan was to swing the ball early on and attempt to hit the good areas.” While the SRH bowlers bent their backs, Gayle and Kohli were in a destructive mode and threatened to bat RCB to a win. But, Ben cutting applied the brakes to claim the West Indian, while Sran returned to claim the RCB skipper. Discussing their strategy for the pair, the bowler said, “We were strictly focussing on the basics. The discussion was to bowl in the right areas. It was a matter of getting that one wicket. And as wickets began to fall, our confidence too came back.”
“For Kohli, the plan was to not give him width outside off-stump; (when there is width) he hits that over cover or past mid-off. I bowled the first ball to him with a bit of width (which got driven for a six over extra cover), but thereafter got my radar right and came back well.”
Sran also admitted that tips from veteran pacer Ashish Nehra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had helped him. “They have supported me a lot through the season and they have shared their knowledge with me every time I bowled. What plan for which batsman, when to use which delivery and things like that. This will help me in the future as well.”
Reflecting on the title win, Sran said, “This is my first IPL final and there are quite a few guys in the team who are lifting the trophy for the first time.”
“The season has been good but I am not satisfied. I have to work harder; I have to work on different aspects and I hope I do better in the next season,” he concluded.