While Indian Premier League is mostly known for blitzkrieg knocks and monster sixes, the ninth edition of the tournament was a different one, as it was won by a team whose bowlers stole the show in the summit clash.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman - Sunrisers Hyderabad's two key weapons in the campaign - helped their team decode Royal Challengers Bangalore's star-studded batting line-up at Chinnaswamy Stadium – a batsman's paradise.
While other franchises suffer due to their insatiable hunger to sign power-hitting batsmen, Orange Brigade's think tank has always believed in keeping the squad balanced by signing quality bowlers.
At the IPL auction earlier this year, Mustafizur Rahman, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Barinder Sran were some of the key players signed by SRH. While Yuvi was signed to provide stability to the middle order, Nehra, Fizz and Sran were all signed to strengthen the bowling line-up.
Here are all the players bought at the auction by SRH:
Ashish Nehra (5.5 crores), Yuvraj Singh (7 crores), Mustafizur Rahman (1.4 crores), Barinder Sran (1.2 crores), Abhimanyu Mithun (30 lakhs), Aditya Tare (20 lakh), Deepak Hooda (10 lakh), Tirumalasetti Suman (10 lakhs), Ben Cutting (50 lakhs), Vijay Shankar (10 lakhs)
Barring Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra, none of the players have done anything substantial in the tournament on a consistent basis. What is surprising to see is that SRH managed to sign someone like Mustafizur Rahaman for just 1.4 crores. He had been troubling the Indian batsmen for quite some time and while other franchises too had their eyes on him, none of them was willing to spend more than 1.4 crores for the Bangaldeshi, who proved to be a major asset for Hyderabad.
Even in the previous editions, Hyderabad have given a lot of importance to quality bowlers. While Karn Sharma proved to be a disappointment for them this season, Nehra and Rahman made sure their bowling line-up remained balanced.
Barring David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, none of the batsmen were consistent for Hyderabad.
As the tournament progressed, Warner's boys came up with individual efforts to help the team reach the final. It wasn't possible for the diminutive Australian, who slammed two crucial fifties in the final two matches, to play a match-winning innings in every game.
In the Eliminator vs Gujarat Lions, Yuvraj Singh's 30-ball 44 proved to be decisive. In Qualifier 2, Bipul Sharma smashed 27 off 11 balls. Not to forget, Ben Cutting's match-winning all round show in the final - 15-ball 39 and 2 wickets. Warner was incredible, but in the business end of the tournament, different players rose to the occasion.
SRH, which had no superstars barring a few players, once again proved that it's a team that wins tournaments and not a bunch of superstars. Unlike RCB, who heavily relied on their 'Big 4' to get them going in every match, Hyderabad's success story is based on individual performances.
While there were several individual efforts which worked for SRH, overall it was the bowling unit which was the key to Hyderabad's success. Bhuvneshwar ended up as the highest wicket taker of the tournament. Fizz and Sran too were ranked in Top-11. What is amazing to see, is that they went on to clinch the title in the absence of a specialist spinner.
A maiden IPL title triumph will infuse a lot of confidence in Warner and his men. And their bowlers' success, will certainly force the think brigade of other teams to rework upon their strategies at the next auction.