Amid relentless pounding of the drums and in an arena that was a sea of yellow, Chennai Super Kings outplayed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 58 runs here on Saturday night to retain the Indian Premier League title.
The host was powered by an explosive 52-ball 95 from opener Murali Vijay. Then, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin removed dangerman Chris Gayle to put CSK on course. The home side, vibrant and hungry on the field, displayed impressive end game skills.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, closing all escape routes, rung in the changes smartly. In pursuit of a mammoth 206 in a Cup final, RCB finished at a tame 147 for eight. The visitor succumbed to the pressures of a massive chase.
In its third final in the four editions of the IPL, CSK is now the only side to win the title twice. At the end of it all, the colourful crowd at the packed M.A. Chidambaram Stadium roared, danced, sung and celebrated. Dhoni and his men were the toast.
The victory was set up by a sizzling 159-run opening partnership in 14.5 overs between Vijay and the left-handed Michael Hussey (63). The left-right combination disrupted the line of the RCB bowlers even as it dismantled the attack clinically.
Dhoni, predictably, elected to bat on a track that offered greater purchase to the spinners in the later stages. The ploy worked. Much of the RCB hopes hinged on Gayle. Ashwin removed the West Indian in the first over with a lovely piece of bowling.
Ashwin followed two off-spinners with a quicker delivery that went through straighter. Attempting a cut, Gayle was done in by the bounce; 'keeper Dhoni snaffled the edge. This was a defining moment.
In his second over, Ashwin deceived and consumed opener Manyank Agarwal with a carrom ball. CSK was turning on the heat.
Virat Kohli and Abraham de Villiers briefly revived RCB hopes with a few spirited shots before left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati took out de Villiers. The bowler shortened his length and de Villiers missed a pull.
RCB continued to lose ground. Suresh Raina's off-spinner beat Kohli's attempted whip. Despite a few lusty blows by Sourabh Tiwary, there were no comebacks for RCB.
Earlier, Vijay held centre-stage. Searching for form, Vijay saved his best for the last. The opener, his body language simmering with intent and aggression, imposed himself on the contest. The fielders were chasing leather.
Both Vijay and Hussey converted the length by either sashaying down or using the depth of the crease. The RCB bowlers ran out of ideas. Vijay's down swing was straight and his bat-speed terrific. He was
able to get under the ball and propel the sphere to distant parts of the ground. The Chennai lad has strong wrists. This was an innings where he showcased several aspects of his batsmanship. Vijay got his front leg out of the way in a jiffy to deposit balls in the cow corner. The ball was struck with brutal force.
Vijay also displayed the classical element of his batting by easing paceman Abhimanyu Mithun through covers and guiding the accomplished Zaheer through the off-side field; he comprehended well the changes in pace that can be so effective in this format.
When Vettori flighted, the fleet-footed Vijay timed him over the long-on boundary. Earlier, Gayle, whose quicker delivery demanded attention, was dismissed in a similar fashion when he offered Vijay a hint of flight. The right-hander had a slice of luck on 40 though when Luke Pomersbach could not cling on to a tough chance on the mid-wicket fence. Mithun was the bowler to suffer.
The opener made RCB pay for the lapse. When S. Arvind provided him length, Vijay blasted the bowler over mid-wicket for the maximum. And when the left-arm paceman pitched short, he was ruthlessly swung beyond the ropes.
Hussey and Vijay also ran hard between the wickets, putting the RCB fielders under stress. Resultantly, the fielding side conceded costly overthrows.
Between nudges and pushes, Hussey essayed a few weighty blows. He is strong off either foot, can drill the ball through gaps over venture into the lofted hits. Crucially, he has a calming influence on the situation and his partner.
The feature of Hussey's batsmanship is the quickness with which he gets into good positions. When Zaheer pitched short, Hussey responded with a typical pulled six.
Syed Mohammad, thwacked over mid-wicket by Hussey, eventually ended the Australian's innings; the left-hander was held at long-on. Vijay, perishing to a slice off Arvind, missed a hundred but Dhoni produced a few rousing hits and RCB had a formidable barrier to surmount. The night concluded with scenes of joy in the CSK camp.
Chennai Super Kings: M. Hussey c Mithun b Mohammad 63 (45b, 3x4, 3x6), M. Vijay c Vettori b Aravind 95 (52b, 4x4, 6x6), M.S. Dhoni c Kohli b Aravind 22 (13b, 2x6), S. Raina b Gayle 8 (5b, 1x6), A. Morkel c Kohli b Gayle 2 (4b), S. Badrinath (not out) 0 (0b), D. Bravo (not out) 6 (1b, 1x6); Extras (lb-7, w-2): 9; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 205.
Fall of wickets: 1-159, 2-188, 3-188, 4-199, 5-199.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Zaheer 4-0-30-0, Aravind 3-0-39-2, Gayle 4-0-34-2, Mohammad 3-0-39-1, Vettori 4-0-34-0, Mithun 2-0-22-0.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: M. Agarwal b Ashwin 10 (5b, 2x4), C. Gayle c Dhoni b Ashwin 0 (3b), V. Kohli lbw b Raina 35 (32b, 1x4,1x6), A.B. de Villiers lbw Jakati 18 (12b, 3x4), L. Pomersbach c & b Jakati 2 (3b), S. Tiwary (not out) 42 (34b, 1x4, 3x6), D. Vettori c & b Ashwin 0 (1b), A. Mithun c Bollinger b Bravo 11 (8b, 2x4), Zaheer Khan c Hussey b Bollinger 21 (21b, 2x4), S. Mohammad (not out) 2 (2b); Extras (b-2, lb-2, w-1, nb-1): 6; Total (for eight wkts. in 20 overs). 147.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-16, 3-48, 4-62, 5-69, 6-70, 7-92, 8-130.
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ashwin 4-0-16-3, Morkel 3-0-24-0, Bollinger 3-0-28-1, Jakati 4-0-21-2, Raina 4-0-39-1, Bravo 2-0-15-1.
Man-of-the-Match; M. Vijay.
Keywords: IPL 2011