Kolkata stop Chennai for first IPL title

CHENNAI: Shahrukh Khan performed cartwheels and went on an embracing rampage. Wasim Akram likened the win to Pakistan’s World Cup triumph. Gautam Gambhir shed his stoicism momentarily and allowed his face to crease into a wide grin – and rightly so!

After all, the most maligned of IPL sides had finally lifted the biggest prize. Following season after season of humiliation, Kolkata Knight Riders rode on Manvinder Bisla’s swashbuckling 48-ball 89 and held their nerve to carve out a five-wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the final of IPL-V on Sunday night. The result stopped Chennai well short in their tracks as they attempted an unlikely hat-trick of IPL titles.

Chasing Chennai’s imposing 190, Kolkata were served well by Bisla, who slammed five sixes to vindicate his replacement of Brendon McCullum in the eleven and partnered Jacques Kallis for 136 runs in just 82 balls to power Kolkata ahead, after the visiting team had lost skipper Gautam Gambhir in the first over of the pursuit. This was the highest successful chase in an IPL final.

Bisla’s dismissal to an Albie Morkel slower ball when 52 were needed to win in a shade over five overs put Super Kings back in the match. And M.S. Dhoni’s team looked to have attained supremacy when Laxmi Shukla and Yusuf Pathan were out soon after.

KKR needed 20 off the last two overs as Ben Hilfenhaus, until then the pick of Chennai’s bowling, returned to bowl. He lured Kallis into a slice off a full-toss, and on the next ball – another full-toss – appeared to have nailed Shakib Al Hasan. But that delivery was called a no-ball – not only was Shakib not out, he had also scampered a couple as Murali Vijay was busy celebrating the void catch.

The Bangladeshi scooped the last ball of Hilfenhaus’ over for four, leaving KKR with just nine to get off Dwayne Bravo’s last over of the innings. Consecutive boundaries from Manoj Tiwary took Shahrukh Khan’s franchise home with two balls to spare.

Earlier, M.S. Dhoni finally won a toss and unsurprisingly elected to bat in what was Chennai’s third consecutive IPL final. Once again the defending champions were aided by an off-color batsman who chose the most opportune time – the summit clash – to come good.

Hussey (54, 43b) and M.  Vijay (42, 32b) added 87 for the opening wicket in just 62 balls, and then Suresh Raina roared back into form with a 38-ball 73. The southpaw smashed five massive sixes on his way to partnering Hussey for 73 runs in a shade less than seven overs, as Chennai posted 190, thwarting whatever advantage Kolkata had hoped ‘mystery’ spinner Sunil Narine would gain them.

It was surprising that Gambhir, who had harped on his spin advantage all through the build up, gave Iqbal Abdullah just one over, and did not allow Shakib his full quota either. Narine, the second-highest wicket-taker in IPL-V, went for a scalp-less 37 in his quota of four as Raina waded into him. Suspect against the short ball, he acquitted himself well against that delivery on Sunday night.

Raina pulled Jacques Kallis for maximum over mid-wicket and reserved similar treatment for Brett Lee – L. Balaji’s replacement – biffing him over his head for a morale-crushing blow. Lee finished with 42 runs taken from his four overs. Chennai had begun quietly, taking just six from the first two overs, but as Lee ran in for the third, the carnage started. Hussey lofted the Aussie speedster for four right behind him and then Vijay creamed another one through mid-wicket.

When Lee returned for the sixth over of the innings, the tempo shifted. Vijay and Hussey struck a six apiece, taking the toll from Lee’s over to 19. Vijay was out to a sensational catch by by Shakib in the deep, giving way for Raina to bat. The left-hander ensured a more than competitive total for his side, and Chennai would have considered the match over and done with at the halfway stage. Little did they know that Bisla and Kallis had something entirely different in mind.