Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2016, final, Bangalore May 29, 2016

David Warner: Sunrisers' Batman and Robin

With little consistent support from the rest of his batting line-up, the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain had to play the dual roles of superhero and sidekick to lift them to their maiden IPL title
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WATCH - Warner's rapid 69

Virat Kohli might have earned a considerable amount of applause for his mesmeric batting in this IPL. But in the biggest match of the season, the one man who had been challenging Kohli's claim for the tournament's MVP crossed the finish line ahead of the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain. David Warner was that man.

He had dared Kohli by electing to bat first, telling Royal Challengers that he possessed a formidable bowling attack. But first, Sunrisers had to put a challenging total on the board.

Unlike Chris Gayle, later in the evening, Warner was not destructive. As he has been throughout the tournament, he was attentive to the possibilities, his placement inch-perfect.

Take this instance: Sachin Baby stood at short third man, Gayle at backward point. Barely 10 yards separated the two. Shane Watson erred for the third time in his first over, bowling full and wide outside off stump. Warner stretched to chop the ball neatly into the narrow divide. The fielders held their heads. Warner did not even look up. He knew what he was doing.

Gayle then came on to bowl. He was firing his offbreaks into the batsman's legs. But the first time he opted to flight the ball, the last ball of his third over, Warner swept him powerfully over mid-on for his second six.

In no time - 24 balls - Warner raised his bat to mark his ninth fifty of the season, the most by any batsman. Kohli might have won the Orange Cap with four centuries, but Warner was not far behind - he finished with 848 runs to Kohli's 973, his strike rate, 151.42, nearly identical to Kohli's 152.03.

Yuzvendra Chahal, the best spinner in this IPL, became a little predictable, bowling too many googlies at the left-handed Warner. Offered width, Warner cut Chahal for two fours in the ninth over.

S Aravind finally forced Warner to edge one in the 14th. Did Aravind take the wicket or did Warner throw it away? Probably it was the latter. Offered a low full toss on off stump, Warner had punched Aravind for a straight boundary as soon as Kohli had brought the left-arm seamer back. Aravind's next ball was a fraction wider, on the fourth stump. Warner went for an expansive drive, attempting to hit over cover, and ended up slicing into the hands of Iqbal Abdulla at short third man.

Warner has not had the kind of support Kohli enjoys in Royal Challengers' batting line-up. He has had to be both Batman and Robin for Sunrisers. For half the tournament he did not have the services of Yuvraj Singh, who proved a catalyst as soon as he returned from injury. Barring Warner, Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj, none of the Sunrisers batsmen - overseas or Indian - crossed the 200-run mark. At times Warner lost his cool and made his anger public: when the batsmen at the other end were throwing their wickets away in a tight chase in the second Qualifier against Gujarat Lions, he bared his emotions in the face of head coach Tom Moody, who remained speechless.

Warner eventually took Sunrisers home with some late help from Bipul Sharma. He finished short of a century by seven runs, but he had won Sunrisers their first IPL final ticket, in their fourth season.

On Sunday, late into the match, when Sunrisers had all but sealed the win, Warner was still fully switched on. In the penultimate over of the match, Sachin Baby hit a straight drive off Mustafizur Rahman. Warner was at wide long-on. He set off swiftly to his right, threw himself into a sprawling dive and interrupted the progress of the ball, relaying it two-handed to the fielder coming the opposite way from long-off.

Moody said Warner had set high standards for himself, and inspired his team-mates to do the same.

"The most important thing that I draw from him is he has a relentless passion to win," Moody said. "He is a born winner and that rubs off on others. He has got incredible work ethic, incredible discipline and all those things are so important from a leadership point of view and that has rubbed off on the group."

David Warner thumped his chest. David Warner shrieked. David Warner was a proud winner.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Santosh on May 30, 2016, 17:42 GMT

    something went wrong (right??) when David was handed over the captaincy of SRH. He turned the team into a Goliath, only no one would mind if this Goliath of team won it all. Kudos to the team, management, and think tank for putting together this wonderful team and making us Hyderabadis proud. A bit of inclusion of local talent would be much appreciated though.

  • rob on May 30, 2016, 10:38 GMT

    I couldn't be happier for Warner. There were a lot of raised eyebrows, including my own, when CA appointed him as Smiths test and ODI vice captain. It seemed a very risky manoeuvre to say the least, given his history. Like sending a known arsonist into the fuel shed someone said. .. well, now we know why they did it. He seems to be a bit good at it. I never would have guessed.

  • FawadAlam4Lyfe on May 30, 2016, 10:35 GMT

    but, but, batman and robin was horrible movie ;)

  • Agnel on May 30, 2016, 8:47 GMT

    I fully agree with Nagraj and also reader HROLF. It is the captain David Warner who outshone everyone else, and more specifically, his captaincy was the difference in outcome. Kohli was great as a batsman but was sloppy in using his resources wisely - using an untidy Watson at death despite repeated failures, not using Binny or Arvind properly. Not just that, while SRH chose their 11 wisely, RCB's left a lot to be desired - I was thinking at the start, having been a captain myself in amateur leagues, that RCB will choose Right-arm off break bowler Rasool for Abdulla, mainly because, SRH had as many as 4 left handed batsmen, including both openers. Rasool has had success in the PP against the lefties. Interestingly, Abdulla got one over, Binny none n Chahal had to bowl googlies to lefties to compensate! While Warner was livewire in the entire 40 overs almost every match, Kohli just performed himself, or stood mute spectator of mess around him, or just kept expressing anguish!

  • Greg on May 30, 2016, 7:50 GMT

    For me, the most outstanding achievement by Warner this series was not his batting, but his management of the bowling unit. Sunrisers had the best bowling unit of the competition, not because they had the best bowlers but because they were bowled at the best times and because it was made clear to each bowler what their role was and what was expected, as well as providing appropriate positive and negative feedback and support. More what I'd expect of a bowling captain than a batting one. This is a rare all-round performance by Warner as captain, batsman and fielder that doesn't show in the stats, and will be hard to duplicate by himself or anyone else in future tournaments.

  • Gnaneshwar Raju on May 30, 2016, 7:24 GMT

    The only franchise with Non Indian as captain....oh boy he lifts the trophy!!

  • Obert on May 30, 2016, 6:38 GMT

    Heartfelt congrats to David Warner and crew. Being given responsibility has turned you, David, into a wonderful model of the game. You certainly are destined for even greater things and I wish you the best in your career.

  • Vamsikrishna on May 30, 2016, 6:28 GMT

    Davey, u r the proud son of Hyderabad. Cricket Australia, SRH has a wonderful limited overs captain for you, hope you won't make the mistake you made with Gilly!!!

  • Pradeep on May 30, 2016, 5:06 GMT

    Wow!I'm just watching and admiring this game because of three incredible talents. Warner Kholi n ABD while I continue to vomit big time hearing how my country is performing home and away.