Sunrisers Hyderabad seemed to do a lot of things right in the Indian Premier League 2018 final against Chennai Super Kings — they batted smartly, bowled brilliantly in the initial overs and they were enthusiastic on the field. Despite all that, they were beaten comfortably by the men in yellow.
Shane Watson’s unbeaten knock of 117 off 57 balls was what turned it Chennai’s way on Sunday (May 27) in Mumbai. Kane Williamson was all praise for the opposition opener.
“At the halfway stage on the surface, we thought we had a very competitive total, it wasn’t perhaps your usual surface at the Wankhede and it held a little bit and was responsive to the slower ball,” said the Hyderabad captain. “So we thought that 180-mark was a really good target and you saw that from our first overs, and wasn’t very easy to get away. I think from that point onwards, that innings of Shane Watson got them away and anyone who turns out with an innings of 100 plus in the final, it was obviously a significant effort.”
Williamson men’s scored 178 for 6 and the captain felt that the score was defendable, given the nature of the surface.
“We worked hard and we built partnerships as we wanted to. As I mentioned earlier, a very competitive total and it was on a knife edge after the first few overs and the run-rate was climbing. There were risks required and if we were able to pick up a couple of wickets, which we have been throughout the season, then all of a sudden it takes a very different shape.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, two of the best bowlers in the IPL, were unable to pick up even one wicket together on the big night. Williamson credited Chennai for handling the threat well.
“Those are two big wicket-takers for us and that’s the nature of it sometimes. You do have to applaud good cricket and that was CSK and their batting today,” Williamson remarked. “They were outstanding and didn’t give us opportunities. Sort of hit it over the fence than to our man. And, look it is such a fine line out there on the park. We all saw that there were moments of pressure where the game can change very quickly and if you’re able to pounce on those, then that’s when you take your opportunity. Today I think you (have to) credit the way CSK are able to handle those moments of pressure and carry on with their batting performance.”
The captain heaped praise on Rashid, who finished the season with 21 wickets and boasted an economy rate of just 6.73.
“(Rashid is) a world-class player. We’ve seen that in this format but it’s great that he’s going to play some Test cricket. I think it is a challenge for anyone but an enjoyable challenge because he’s up there with the top spinners in the game. It’s always a pleasure to face him at the nets and against him as well in the near future. A very, very good bowler but if the wicket’s responding, like any spinner that offers him a bit more. But, fantastic bowler. He is the full package, it is great to have him in the side and he had a brilliant year.”
For Williamson himself, this was a breakthrough season. With the bat, he showed that there was room for class in a format associated with brute power, finishing as the season’s top run-getter with 735 runs at a strike rate of 142.4, and as captain he marshalled his troops to finish as the league toppers. He was able to enjoy the opportunity due to the absence of David Warner. Williamson said he enjoyed his leadership role but hadn’t cast thought on what would happen if the Australian returned next season.
“(Captaincy) was a different experience. Coming into the job, there are a number of guys I hadn’t met, a variety of cultures that I was looking forward to and some of the differences that were faced. I mean, it was enjoyable. Such great bunch of guys… They give you their 100% every time you walk out in the park and even in times when you’re perhaps behind in the game. We saw that character come through so often throughout this season.”
“I haven’t certainly thought about anything other than the game tonight and what I mean by that is that when you are captaining, you naturally play more, which was nice… You always want to be playing but that in itself is a role I suppose, and you try and adapt to that as best as you can,” said Williamson.