Against a side which comprises chase master Virat Kohli, AB deVilliers and the dangerous Chris Gayle, Warner elected to bat first. The decision raised eyebrows, but VVS Laxman believed the decision showed a glimpse of the self-belief Warner possesses and the belief he had on his bowlers.
Excerpts from the interview:
Congratulations on the win. Run us through your emotions?
It is fantastic and has been a great journey. We started off a little slowly, losing the first two games, but after that, the kind of team bonding we have got, not only this year, but in the past four years too, has been exceptional. There are no superstars in Sunrisers, but every member of the team is an important member and I think everyone feeds off each other. The way we have fought back, especially in the last two games against Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Lions, we really had to play good cricket to qualify for the final.
The match against Gujarat Lions was sensational, because at one stage I thought it was going to be difficult, but the way David Warner played, with brilliant contribution from Bipul Sharma, was exceptional.
Even today, we had a very good score. Ben Cutting came and played a game-changing knock, got those extra runs. Even when Chris Gayle was firing on all cylinders, what I really liked was the body language of the bowlers and the captain. He gave a lot of confidence to the bowlers, allowed them to execute their game and gave them the freedom to choose their field. Once we started taking wickets, the pressure was back on RCB. Sensational team work and great effort from each and every member of the Sunrisers family.
We are very fortunate to work with Tom Moody as Head Coach, Simon - the Assistant Coach and Murali - the Mentor. We have got a great culture within the Sunrisers family and I’m sure it was a great learning experience for the youngsters who have been part of our family.
We have seen what impact Warner has had on the field. Your thoughts on his captaincy?
I think he led from the front. He is an inspirational character who is very positive and aggressive at the same time. His nature has rubbed off on a lot of youngsters. But the way he has batted, despite being under pressure of being one of the most important members in the side, has been phenomenal. He has had an impact on each and every outing. I think he is a bowler’s captain; giving freedom to bowlers, especially when things are not going your way, you need your captain to back you and that’s what our bowlers got from their captain. He is also not an experienced captain, but the way he has led the team has been sensational. I hope that he keeps on continuing that. He is a match-winner and a great person to lead us.
Your thoughts on Sunrisers’ bowling this season?
We were very clear when we went into the auction that we wanted to have quality bowlers in our side. Over the years we have realised that it is the bowlers who ultimately win you matches and we are very fortunate to have a lot of quality bowlers, who are not only defensive, but also attacking bowlers who look to take wickets. Ashish Nehra was fantastic for us at the start of the tournament; unfortunately we lost him because of injury. Yuvraj Singh came back from an injury, and both he and Nehra, have been leaders within the group. But the way Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman have carried the burden of being the strike bowlers throughout the tournament has been incredible.
In the T20 format we think that it is tough for bowlers to come and perform on flat wickets. But the way Bhuvi picked up wickets with the new ball, then came in the death overs and bowled those accurate yorkers, picked up wickets and restricted the flow of runs, was brilliant. We are very fortunate to have a balanced unit. I always feel that in any format, it is the bowlers who win you the games.
A message for Nehraji who missed out on the celebration today?
He is an important part of the Sunrisers family. I was in touch with him before coming to the ground. He is not only a senior player, but also a great leader within the group. Nehraji is an inspiration. To make a comeback at this age and do well for the Indian team and now for Sunrisers, you are a role model to a lot of youngsters and I’m sure a lot of them would learn from your story.