In a sensational pursuit, Kolkata Knight Riders chased down an imposing 191 to win its first Indian Premier League title at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here, on Sunday.
Requiring nine off the final over, two Manoj Tiwary boundaries off paceman Dwayne Bravo enabled the spirited Kolkata side register a triumph with two balls remaining. The dependable Jacques Kallis (69 off 49) and an inspired Manvinder Singh Bisla (89 off 48) set up the win.
Chennai Super Kings' dream of an IPL hat-trick remained unfulfilled. The side's bowling was ordinary and fielding lacklustre. Despite a mountain of runs, the host was unable to build pressure. As the chase neared conclusion, there were two championship-defining moments.
Michael Hussey, on his 37th birthday, leapt and seemed to have pulled off a spectacular catch at the mid-wicket fence to dismiss Jacques Kallis. The Aussie, however, stepped over the line taking the sphere with him. The resultant six took Kallis from 56 to 62.
Then, Ben Hilfenhaus, soon after prising out Kallis with a full toss, sent down a no-ball for height in the final ball of the 19th over.In the extra delivery that followed, Shakib-Al-Hasan directed one over short-fine leg to the fence. Knight Riders now required only nine from the final over. The visitors had the final say.
During the chase, the solid Kallis' refined technique and clean strokes off either feet lifted the levels of batsmanship. He played an exquisite straight-drive off R. Ashwin and a flowing cover-drive off left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati.
Bisla slashed and flashed boundaries square off the wicket, cover-drove with panache and pulled with daring. The manner in which Bisla converted the length pegged back the CSK bowlers. Ashwin and Bravo suffered.
The right-hander, however, was fortunate when a leaping Hilfenhaus could not cling on to a Bisla offering off Ashwin.Bisla, eventually, succumbed to a slower delivery from Albie Morkel.
The unheralded Bisla had been a controversial inclusion in the side as the KKR think-tank – to maintain the balance of its attack – dropped the game-changing Brendon McCullum to include paceman Brett Lee in one of the four overseas slots. And Bisla came in as a wicket-keeper batsman for injured paceman L. Balaji.
The Knight Riders' start was disastrous. Its skipper Gautam Gambhir heaved against a slower delivery from Ben Hilfenhaus to be castled.
Raina runs riot
On a belter, the runs flowed in a cascade. Powered by an astonishing 38-ball 73 by Suresh Raina, Chennai Super Kings sped to what appeared to be a highway to victory after winning the toss.
CSK, then, got most things right. An impact player with a liking for the big stage in the IPL, Raina could not have picked a better moment to blaze away.
Predictably, Brett Lee bounced at him. Raina's response took the Aussie speedster by surprise though.
The left-hander pulled for a massive six over mid-wicket.
When Jacques Kallis banged one in short, Raina unleashed another pull for a maximum.
Although, the name of the surface could have assisted Raina in his methods, the southpaw deserves credit for a brave and uncluttered mindset.
In a pivotal moment of the innings, Raina danced down to ‘mystery' spinner Sunil Narine and smoked him over the mid-wicket ropes. This was his favourite scoring area of the day.
Raina reading Narine capably, struck the bowler straight for a six.
The sea of yellow in the stadium appeared like waves as the crowd swayed to the rhythm of the stroke.
The southpaw also displayed another aspect of his batsmanship by playing with the spin and gliding a Narine delivery turning away from him, with soft hands and deft touch.
Hussey, solid yet enterprising, kept one end going.
The versatile left-hander sashayed down the track to pummel Lee over his head.
This was an audacious strike, yet the execution underlined the southpaw's control.And not too many non-subcontinental batsmen play with as much finesse behind square on both sides of the wicket as Hussey does.
Knight Riders' ploy of Shakib Al Hasan sharing the new ball was negated by the left-handed Hussey taking much of the strike against the left-arm spinner.
Hussey reverse-swept Shakib but could not beat the man at short third-man. Not surprisingly he repeated the stroke and, this time, managed to place the ball to the left of the fielder.
And the Aussie's sweep off Shakib soared over the long-on fence. The decibel levels rose in the arena.
At the other end, Vijay, circumspect to begin with, freed his arms against Lee. Rajat Bhatia was brought in to deny pace to the batsmen, but he was smoked through the off-side by Vijay
But then, it was Bhatia who ended the rollicking opening stand — 87 runs in 10.2 overs — when Vijay's (42 off 32 balls) on-side heave was splendidly held by Shakib.
Hussey (54 off 43) failed to connect a swipe off Kallis, but Raina continued to plunder the bowling. And the beating of the drums grew louder.