Mid-match interviews are rarely memorable in the Indian Premier League these days. Often, it’s too soon at the end of an innings to say anything insightful, especially if the player who is speaking was just involved in the action minutes earlier. They are often just catching their breath, and other times careful not to speak too much too soon when the match is only half done. At the most, we get some information on the pitch and dew on outfield.
But Rovman Powell’s interview after Delhi Capitals posted 207/3 in the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday at the Brabourne Stadium did not belong to that category. With the score board reading 188/3 ahead of the final over of their innings, Powell had the strike and David Warner was on 92*, starting the over as the non-striker.
“Start of the [20th] over, I asked him if he wanted a single to try and get the 100,” Powell said after the match. “He said ‘listen, that is not how we play the game, try to smack it as hard you as can and as far as you can’ so I did that.”
In a high-scoring match where Sunrisers ended up getting to 186/8, that extra cushion provided by Powell – after he smashed Umran Malik for 18 runs in the final over – was critical. At that point, he was striking the ball better and Warner admitted later he was getting cooked towards the end. A single in an attempt to get a century could have possibly shaved a few runs off the total. It spoke so much about the game awareness of Warner as it did about Powell’s ball-striking.
Warner, of course, had already done enough damage with the 92 runs he scored on the night, those extra few missed for a milestone notwithstanding. And he was the player of the match, as DC defeated SRH by 21 runs for a crucial win in the tournament.
It surely would have been a match that Warner would have had an eye on for a while. In the couple of post-match interactions – one for the broadcasters with Harsha Bhogle and one for the tournament’s website with Shane Watson – Warner was asked in a few different ways if this match meant something extra to him, whether there was some additional heat in his belly, whether it was special to get one over his former employers with whom things did not end well. He largely left those alone, turning into a Test opener from the T20 version a while earlier.
“I didn’t need extra motivation. We’ve all seen what’s happened before in the past and it was just to get a win on the board and get back in this contest,” Warner said, in response to Bhogle’s third question – pointed and direct – after the first two on the same line saw the Aussie rather cleverly deflect it.
Diplomacy there, perhaps. But in that moment when Powell presumably asked Warner about his century, he didn’t leave any room for imagination. He could have said ‘yeah mate, let me give it a go if that’s alright with you.’ He could have also said, ‘let’s see mate, if a single comes our way, we shall see how it goes.’ One can think of a few more on-the-fence responses too where he had an eye on that three-figure mark against his former side. But his response was evidently cut and dried.
No ifs and buts... just go hard, Rovman.
And as the West Indies ball-striker showed what he’s got, Warner turned cheerleader. From the non-striker’s end, you could hear even from your television screens as the Australian star egged Powell on to score as much as possible. It’s what we have to come to expect from him... after all, even sitting in the stands during IPL 2021, he was waving the SRH flag.
“100%,” Warner said about not worrying about the century. “And I said to him I’m running two, no matter what and I don’t care if I get run-out. If we get 200-plus…I thought 190 was a par score but anything over 200 was good and I said to him if he was there at the end, we could get 210-220. So I’m just glad he cleared the fence.”
He didn’t just stop there too, he ran a bye off the last ball on the rare occasion when Powell did not connect... it is something every team must be doing in 2022, but you rarely see it. He did not care much for his century, he did not care much for his “not out” status... all he did was trying everything in his power to add to DC’s total on the night, not just his.
Maybe, that too was because he was fired up to get one over Sunrisers – he did get there in the end, when speaking to Watson, admitting it felt good to get the two points against the side he played for too long. But all the same, this was Warner, the IPL great, doing what he has done in the league for so long. In what is yet another 300-run season for him in the tournament, he is saying and doing all the right things that has made a legend of the tournament.
David Warner over the years in IPL
Unsurprisingly, Warner was full of energy as he turned on the charm in the post-match interview that is well worth your time if you are a cricket fan. It was evidently a special night for him, and one that we can remember as much for the runs he didn’t score at the end as the runs he did earlier.
And also for this extraordinary shot to a wide yorker that many right-handers would be happy to play in their dreams.