Sunrisers Hyderabad topped the league stage, but lost all four games against Chennai Super Kings this season. Captain Kane Williamson lauded the way CSK handled the most high-pressure match of the lot, the final, not giving Sunrisers any opportunities while chasing what he thought was a "competitive total".
In pursuit of 179, CSK lost only two wickets and ensured Sunrisers' most dangerous bowlers - Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan - went wicketless.
"That is the nature of that - sometimes you do have to applaud very good cricket and that was CSK in terms of their batting today," Williamson said. "It was outstanding, they didn't give us opportunities, they hit it over the fence rather than to our man. Look, it is such a fine line, I know out there on the park it's an eight-wicket win but we all saw that there were moments of pressure where the game can change very quickly, and if you're able to pounce on those then that's when you take your opportunity. And today, you do credit the way CSK handled those moments of pressure and carried on with their batting performance."
Apart from Shane Watson's unbeaten 117, Williamson had words of praise for his bowlers too. After Bhuvneshwar started with a maiden over against Watson, Sunrisers restricted CSK to only 35 for 1 in the Powerplay before they took on Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma.
"At the halfway stage on the surface, we thought we had a very competitive total," Williamson said. "It wasn't perhaps your usual surface at the Wankhede and it held a little bit and was responsive to the slower ball. So we thought that 180-mark was a really good target and you saw that from our first overs, it wasn't very easy to get away. I think from that point onwards, that innings of Shane Watson... anyone who turns out with an innings of 100-plus in the final, it was obviously a significant effort and great contribution to their side and very difficult to stop, so a fantastic knock.
"I believe after the first few overs, the [required] run rate was climbing, there were risks required and if we were able to pick up a couple of wickets, which we have been doing throughout the season, then all of a sudden it takes a very different shape. Credit to the way CSK played, they showed their experience and got through that period and took the game away from us."
When asked if the bowling of their domestic quicks, apart from Bhuvneshwar, cost them the game, Williamson said: "I'd rather look at the likes of Watson in terms of his innings. He did put us under pressure. You come into a final and that is one of the things you do need to deal with the best you can - pressure. Everybody's feeling it a little bit and he responded to it beautifully and put us under more pressure. Once again, the way we started with the ball was outstanding, gave us an opportunity. There was a balancing point there which they ran away with.
"We look at a variety of surfaces that we played on [early in the season] and I think that was huge in how our bowlers operated, and then we came on to some other surfaces, perhaps a little bit better [for batting], and we were trying to adjust as best as we could.
"That's the nature of T20 cricket, it's very aggressive, you play looking to get on top of bowlers and at times that can happen to anyone, it's just one of those things. But he [Kaul] has been a fantastic asset for our side throughout this whole campaign. His death bowling is of the highest quality and he's got a fantastic slower ball as well. The likes of him and the other boys that were in our attack were brilliant throughout the whole campaign."
Williamson can indeed be proud of his bowling attack, from which two bowlers - Rashid and Kaul, with 21 wickets each - finished behind the tournament's top wicket-taker Andrew Tye (24). Sandeep and Bhuvneshwar didn't play all their matches but were frugal, finishing the tournament with economy rates of 7.56 and 7.66 respectively.