'Warner played an amazing knock' - Finch
Playing their first IPL, Gujarat Lions came within one avoided masterclass of making it to the IPL final, but were left doffing their hats to AB de Villiers first in Bangalore and David Warner in Delhi on Friday. Warner scored 93 of the 163 runs needed, single-handedly taking Sunrisers Hyderabad into the final. Aaron Finch, who scored a fifty batting in the middle order for Lions, said there wasn't much that they could have done to prevent Warner's success on the day.
"Tonight, I think that we had a very competitive total, it was around par," Finch said. "170 would have been nice as it turns out, but two of the best players in the world have both got big scores against us in the last two games. Sometimes you just have to take your hat off and appreciate how good cricketers them two are. And say well played.
"It was an amazing knock, wasn't it, the way that he controlled the innings the whole way through and went right through and got them home was outstanding. We have been at the receiving end of a couple of great knocks in this tournament, and it is just that one batter in every couple of games seems to get us. AB in the last game and Davey tonight. We can hold our head up very high. We played some really great cricket throughout this tournament but unfortunately we just couldn't get them world-class players out when it counted right at the end there."
Among the positives for Lions is the emergence of left-arm wristspinner Shivil Kaushik, whom Finch picked as the find of the tournament for Lions.
"I think we have seen an unusual spinner in this tournament in Shivil," Finch said. "He has been outstanding for us. Anyone who can bowl with an unusual action like that and who can spin the ball both ways is a huge asset, and he has been outstanding. It was beautiful the way that he bowled tonight, under pressure in a big game, to come back into the team after a few games out, just shows a real lot of character and someone who hasn't had cricket given to him easily. He has had to work very hard for what he has achieved. He was outstanding, he was great all season and I think he can play a big part going forward."
Kaushik bowled his four oevrs unbroken and took two wickets for just 22 runs to keep Lions in the game. The other spinner, though, wasn't bowled at all. The more accomplished Ravindra Jadeja was sprightly in the field as usual, but there seemed a lack of confidence in him after he hasn't had a great season. The presence of left-hand batsmen in the Sunrisers line-up went against him, Finch said.
"I think that Raina probably couldn't get that matchup for him," Finch said. "They always had at least one left-hander in Warner in and it was a very short side out there on the far side away from the change room. Probably didn't get the matchup at the time, and Raina happened to bowl a couple of overs there quite nicely. I think Jadeja played a big part for us. He probably played a different role with the bat than what he has in the past years for Chennai and also India. He's usually been batting 7 and 8, but he has stepped up this year and made some really valuable runs."
Overall, though, Lions bowed out a team satisfied with their showing in their first season. "I think the way that we played throughout the tournament was fantastic from the team's point of view," Finch said. "To finish top of the table for a franchise in their first year was fantastic. I think it's obviously disappointing that we couldn't get through to the final but the way that we fought and fought...
"We had our back up against the wall a couple of times. We started off the tournament fantastic, I think we went six wins, one loss and then we had a bit of a down period but then we hit back hard and beat two outstanding teams in Kolkata and Mumbai coming into the finals. But it goes to show what an amazing competition it was. If we had lost one of them games, we finish out of the four but we won both and we finish top of the table. Same with Bangalore. It was an amazing tournament all around, the way that it unfolded."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo