Kolkata: Skipper Kane Williamson hailed the fighting spirit of Hyderabad and praised star Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan after his all-round brilliance earned them a 13-run win over Kolkata in Qualifier 2 and a place in the IPL final.
Man-of-the-match Rashid slammed a quick-fire 34 not out off 10 balls to help SRH post a competitive 174-7 and then returned with three wickets. He also took two catches and effected a run out.
"It was a great fighting effort from the lads, game ebbed and flowed. Game could have gone either way. Credit to the way the boys finished off the first innings to get a competitive total. Game was slipping away a bit at the start, but we knew if we held firm, we could squeeze back in the middle," Williamson said.
"Important we move on and focus on the final. As a team we fight to the very last ball and we showed that again today. Someone like Rashid is the perfect example. Outstanding talent, he has a great attitude. He (Rashid) was brilliant but he's got another game, so we're going to keep him wrapped up. He's had a great season for us."
Williamson said despite injuries to their key players they didn't change the balance of the team. "The thing we didn't change was our balance. We had injuries obviously, Saha was injured. He came back in, was nice to have his experience. Goswami contributed well, but that was the big thing for us to have that experience in the final," he said.
"Everyone of those guys has played a big part, whether contributing on the field or off the field. It's been a huge collective effort."
Talking about their final against Chennai, Williamson said: "They've been playing good cricket, and certainly deserve to be in the final. It's a great occasion, something that the guys will be looking forward to. It is about focussing on the next match now, one which the guys are excited for."
Rashid, meanwhile, said he has been working on his allround game and just tried to believe in himself.
"It was much-needed for me, wanted to give my 100 percent in all departments. Focus was to just believe in my skills. I was happy with the batting, it was needed in the end," he said.
"I started my career as a batsman, I believe in my skills and wanted to finish off well. I just tried to pick the lengths, the focus was to play straight. That was the plan from the senior players."
Talking about fielding, he said: "Fielding is one department where you can't make excuses, compared to last year, I've worked really hard on my fielding. If I can't contribute with bat or ball, I'm always looking forward to contributing in the field. Modern cricket demands that. I'm working hard on that."
Disappointed to end up on the losing side, KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik took the blame for the defeat.
"It's hard to digest, we played a good tournament. To finish on the losing side doesn't feel good. We had the game at the 10-over mark, couple of bad shots cost us. Me, Robin had to bat through, Lynn was good. Me not batting through was a mistake on my part," he said.
Excited to play in his third final, SRH spinner Shakib Al Hasan (1/16) said the phase where he along with spin partner Rashid bowled in tandem in the middle overs turned the match in their favour.
"In the middle overs where Rashid and I bowled, we squeezed the game. That was the turning point," he said.
"We always knew you can lose in the last two-three overs in T20s, momentum changes. We had to hold our nerves, but we used our experience from the other day.
"Third time I'll be playing in an IPL final. Thanks to the franchise for playing me in all games. Some games we didn't do our best, but a good tournament overall for SRH."
West Indian Carlos Brathwaite took two wickets to contribute to the win after his 29-ball 43 went in vain in the first qualifier against Chennai Super Kings on May 22.
Shakib said: "Carlos will be a happy man, the way we lost that day, he thought it was because of him. The way he came back today was terrific."