David Warner, the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain, called right and surprisingly elected to bat first against an unchanged Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL final amidst a thick cloud cover over the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Warner did so knowing fully well he would have the services of Mustafizur Rahman, the Bangladesh left-arm pacer, who missed Qualifier-2 because of a hamstring niggle. Trent Boult was left out as a result. "We felt out strength is bowling," Warner explained of his decision. "We know they are a fantastic chasinf side. They have set the benchmark, they didn't start well but we know what they are capable of. For us, it's about coming here and playing with a smile on our face to try and negate the crowd."
Virat Kohli, Warner's opposite number, was equally pleased despite losing the toss. "Had I known, I wouldn't have come out to toss," he joked, indicating he was more than happy to chase. "Both teams are backing their strengths. Ours is to chase and there is to defend. It should be a cracking contest. When we had a knockout situation where we had to win four out of four, we decided we won't look at opposition anymore. We didn't expect to finish second, but net run-rate gave us the push. We have to start afresh here though."
By sticking to the same line-up that beat Gujarat Lions in Qualifier-1, Royal Challengers also reposed their faith in Iqbal Abdulla, who has only been sparingly used at the Chinnaswamy because of the short boundaries. Varun Aaron, generally the team's go-to option at home, missed out as a result.
Neither Royal Challengers nor Sunrisers have tasted IPL success yet. Royal Challengers, first under Anil Kumble and then Daniel Vettori, have lost both their previous finals, in 2009 and 2011. The furthest Sunrisers made before the final in 2016 was a playoff appearance in their inaugural season, in 2013.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Virat Kohli (capt) 3 AB de Villiers 4 KL Rahul (wk) 5 Shane Watson 6 Stuart Binny 7 Sachin Baby 8 Iqbal Abdulla 9 Chris Jordan 10 Sreenath Aravind 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner (capt) 2 Shikhar Dhawan 3 Moises Henriques 4 Yuvraj Singh 5 Deepak Hooda 6 Ben Cutting 7 Naman Ojha (wk) 8 Bipul Sharma 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Barinder Sran 11 Mustafizur Rahman