Kolkata Knight Riders are IPL champions
Kolkata Knight Riders became the new champions of the Indian Premier League as they defeated defending champions Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in a nerve-wracking final, to win their maiden IPL final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
The night belonged to Kolkata as the Gautam Gambhir-led outfit outclassed defending champions Chennai Super Kings by 5 wickets to be crowned the new IPL champions.
The day belonged to Manvinder Singh Bisla, who wasn't supposed to play this match had Laxmipathy Balaji not suffered a hamstring injury. The decision to drop Brendon McCullum was widely debated but the lad from Himachal Pradesh put all the speculation to rest as he emerged as an unlikely hero among the galaxy of stars.
The Super Kings, champions in the previous two seasons, looked to be in command after setting an imposing 191 target for Kolkata. The target looked even more difficult after the hosts dismissed Knight Riders' captain Gautam Gambhir in the very first over.
But Bisla (89 of 49 balls) and veteran Jacques Kallis (69 off 49) put together a match-winning partnership of 136 runs to set up a deserving victory in the final over when Manoj Tiwary smashed two consecutive boundaries off Dwayne Bravo for the winning runs.
Kolkata's success was even more creditable considering they had to reshuffle their line-up in the wake of injury to seamer Balaji. They brought in Bisla while dropping opener McCullum and replacing the Kiwi big-hitter with all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
The Knight Riders went home richer by $2 million in prize money and the Super Kings received $1.5million as the runners-up.
Bisla was a revelation as he has had a very ordinary season with the bat, but on the big night, he stepped up to play a gem of a knock that took Knight Riders close to victory.
With Kallis proving to be an able foil, Bisla grew in stature. However, Bisla fell in the 15th over, just 11 short of a century. Thereafter, the Knight Riders lost a couple of wickets leaving them to get 20 runs off the last two overs.
Kallis departed in the 19th when he smashed a full-toss off Hilfenhaus to Ravindra Jadeja, but a lucky boundary off the last ball of that over left Kolkata to get nine off the last over bowled by Bravo with Shakib Al Hasan and Manoj Tiwary at the crease.
Tiwary swung the third ball to the square-leg fence and the Knight Riders needed three off the last three deliveries. He again pulled the next ball to the boundary for the winning runs and set off celebrations in the Knight Riders camp.
Earlier, Suresh Raina's blitzkrieg and Michael Hussey's priceless knock helped defending champions Chennai Super Kings post a commendable 190 for three.
Opting to bat, Hussey (54, 43 balls, 4x4, 2x6) along with Murali Vijay (42, 32 balls, 4x4, 1x6) set the platform with blistering opening partnership of 87 runs. Raina (73, 38 balls, 3x4, 5x6) then complemented the opening duo's effort as he hit some of the biggest sixes in the tournament with a few of them flying out of the stadium. Along with Hussey, he added 73 in less than 7 overs.
Another highlight of the CSK innings was brilliant running between the wickets by trio of Hussey, Raina and Vijay on a humid Chennai evening.
When it mattered most, the KKR attack flopped badly. Laxmipathy Balaji's absence was felt as Brett Lee (0/42 in 4 overs) turned out to be very expensive as the trio of Hussey, Vijay and Raina took him to cleaners. Such was the pressure on Sunl Narine (0/37 in 4 overs) that he ended up with his worst figures in the tournament.
After quiet first two overs, the mayhem started in the third over bowled by Lee. Hussey first played a lofted shot over bowler's head for a boundary and then Vijay played his trademark shot over mid-wicket for another boundary.
In the very next over from Shakib Al Hasan, the seasoned Aussie first swept over fine leg and then played a reverse sweep as floodgates opened.
A desperate KKR skipper Gambhir had to bring in his trump card Sunil Narine early for an over but it was the sixth over bowled by Lee that shifted momentum in favour of 'Men in Yellow'. Both Vijay and Hussey hit Lee for a six each as CSK reached 50. The over from Lee cost KKR 19 runs.
Even more impressive was their running between the wickets as senior pro Hussey pushed Vijay for converting ones into twos.
It needed an inspirational catch from Shakib Al Hasan in the deep to break the partnership as Vijay didn't get the required elevation off Rajat Bhatia's slower delivery.
The tempo however didn't drop as Raina brought up team's 100 with a huge six over deep mid-wicket off Kallis's bowling after Hussey had played a nice square-cut. Hussey reached his 50 off 38 balls.
As Raina went on a hitting spree, Hussey started playing the second fiddle until he played a cross-batted shot off Jacques Kallis' bowling.