A final of innumerable twists and turns, gifted Kolkata Knight Riders a Sunday night to remember while Kings XI Punjab suffered a heart-break.
Fittingly, KKR won the IPL’s seventh edition at a packed Chinnaswamy Stadium. KKR’s second title triumph — a three-wicket victory — was all about Bangalore lad Manish Pandey anchoring the chase and the tail holding its nerve. Chasing Kings XI’s 199 for four, KKR scored 200 for seven in 19.3 overs.
KKR’s pursuit needed an adrenalin shot right up the order but Robin Uthappa failed to extend his prolific run into the summit clash though he did emphatically drive Mitchell Johnson’s first ball for four. The speedster had his revenge soon and while skipper Gautam Gambhir picked his spots on the cover picket, he could not stretch his tenure.
At the other end, Pandey (94, 50b, 7x4, 6x6), eased the pressure with fours off Parvinder Awana and L. Balaji. The match was interestingly poised as Yusuf Pathan caned Karanveer Singh for two successive sixes and KKR hovered close to the required rate and was placed at 89 for two after 10 overs.
Grabbing the chance
Pandey reached his fifty with a six off Awana and was equally adept at digging out the seamer’s riposte — a yorker.
One more big hit was essayed and on 60, Pandey watched Kings XI skipper George Bailey drop a tough catch.
If that was a premonition of better tidings, KKR grabbed that with both hands. Pathan dealt his usual blows as two massive sixes off Balaji, ensured that the hunt was on. However Pathan failed to get past Glenn Maxwell while wading into Karanveer.
Pandey though continued unabated despite his partners deserting him. Unfortunately, just as he was set to anchor his team towards the winning post, an aching leg and a tired shot undid him. Yet, the tail lasted, as evident in Piyush Chawla’s six off Johnson in the penultimate over. And it was a matter of minutes before the KKR dugout erupted in unbridled joy.
Earlier, Kings XI found its saviours in two unheralded cricketers as Wriddhiman Saha (115 n.o., 55b, 10x4, 8x6) and Manan Vohra’s 129-runthird-wicket partnership off 73 deliveries, masked the failures of the blue-chip core: Virender Sehwag, Bailey and Maxwell.
Saha, the first century-maker in an IPL final, initially favoured the on-side but as his vigil at the crease lengthened, equally, his repertoire widened. But before Saha and Vohra could hurt KKR, Kings XI suffered a poor start and stuttered at 30 for two in 5.1 overs.
Immediately, opener Vohra (67) and Saha, buckled down before slog-sweeping sixes — one each off Chawla and Shakib Al Hasan. Later, Saha hoisted Chawla twice over the off-side as Kings XI made up for the lethargy of the first 10 overs (58 runs).
Saha then carted Sunil Narine and Vohra aggravated the spinner’s agony. The third-wicket partnership also had its share of luck when in the 16th over, Narine grassed Saha (on 60) after twisting from his follow-through and running towards the skier.
Narine then outfoxed Vohra but wicket-keeper Uthappa gathered the ball in front of the stumps and negated the stumping. Soon Chawla nailed Vohra and Maxwell but Kings XI prospered upon Saha’s fiery effort. The tale then inexorably changed during a tense night.
Kings XI Punjab: Virender Sehwag c Gambhir b U Yadav 7; Manan Vohra c & b Chawla 67; George Bailey b Narine 1; Wriddhiman Saha not out 115; Glenn Maxwell c Morkel b Chawla 0; David Miller not out 1; Extras: (LB-4, W-3, NB-1) 8
Total: (for 4 wickets in 20 overs) 199
Fall of wickets: 1—23, 2—30, 3—159, 4—170
Bowling: Morkel 4—0—40—0, Umesh Yadav 4—0—39—1, Narine 4—0—46—1, Shakib 4—0—26—0, Chawla 4—0—44—2
Kolkata Knight Riders: R Uthappa c Patel b Johnson 5; G Gambhir c Miller b Karanveer 23; M Pandey c Bailey b Karanveer 94; Y Pathan c Maxwell b Karanveer 36; Shakib run out (Bailey) 12; RN ten Doeschate c Miller b Karanveer 4; S Yadav c Vohra b Johnson 5; P Chawla not out 13; SP Narine not out 2; Extras (w—6) 6
Total (For 7 wickets; 19.3 overs) 200
Fall of wickets: 1—6, 2—59, 3—130, 4—156, 5—168, 6—179, 7—187
Bowling: Johnson 4—0—41—2, Balaji 4—0—41—0, Awana 3.3—0—43—0, Karanveer 4—0—54—4, Patel 4—0—21—0.
Man-of-the-match: Manish Pandey