The Kolkata Knight Riders were crowned IPL champions as the glitzy competition reached a thrilling climax in Chennai on Sunday. But it wasnít cut and dried. Match report by ANT SIMS.
Like so many matches dished up by the Indian Premier League this season, the final served up a thrilling climax. The Kolkata Knight Riders were crowned champions as yet another match went down to the final over.
The Chennai Super Kings won the toss and chose to bat and got off to a flying start with Murali Vijay hitting 42 off 32 before being dismissed by Rajat Bhatia. Michael Hussey and Suresh Rainathen combined for a mammoth 73-run second-wicket partnership as they forced the KKR fielders to play fetch while the bowlers licked their wounds.
Brett Lee struggled to contain the CSK batsmen and, whereas the Knight Riders would have wanted their big match player to make an impact, Lee looked a shadow of his former, threatening self, conceding 42 runs in his four overs as he gifted the Chennai batsmen a bouquet of poor deliveries to be put away to all corners of the park.
Raina kept up the pace and played through the line off Sunil Narine to hit six into the stands to bring up his half-century as CSK looked in firm control.
Kallis struck in the 18th over to dismiss Hussey, with the Australian missing a straight one, but there was no stopping Raina, who continued his rampage, hitting 73 off 38 before departing off the final ball of the innings to earn some reprieve for the Knight Riders. Chennai had posted a massive 190-3 in their 20 overs.
They had the best possible start to halting KKR’s charge when Ben Hilfenhaus struck off the final ball of the opening over to send Gautam Gambhir on his way.
With Mavindra Bisla and Jacques Kallis at the crease, Chennai still looked to have the upper hand, but Bisla played an incredible knock of 89 off 48, including eight fours and five sixes, before he was dismissed by Albie Morkel. KKR were still on course, needing 52 runs with 8 wickets and 32 balls remaining.
Kallis, usually known for his slow scoring, upped the ante by hitting 69 off 49, at a strike rate a fraction over 140. A cramp struck down the big South African in the 18th over, which slowed down his onslaught and he was dismissed soon after. The Super Kings now looked back in control as the visitors required 16 off 7 balls.
A faux pas from Ben Hilfenhaus, which cost seven runs, gave the Knight Riders the edge again heading into the final over. Hilfenhaus took a wicket from the final ball of the 19th over, but the umpire signalled a no ball for a waist high full-toss. The batsmen ran two and Shakib Al Hasan added four off the extra delivery to swing the match back into KKR's favour. With nine runs needed off the final over Manoj Tiwary kept his cool and hit two consecutive fours off Dwayne Bravo to help his side clinch victory.
Kallis was understandably delighted after the match. “You put in hard and you get days like today where things just go your way. Chennai are a champion side, but credit to our guys, to chase down 190 in a final was a great effort.
“Bisla really set it up for us with the way he batted at the start. We play these games for finals like this. You can’t sit back and relax, but we didn’t panic, which was the key,” said the South African all-rounder.
With a Test series against England looming in July, South African fans might have had a bit of a heart-in-throat moment to see Kallis floored, but he insists that it was “just a little bit of old age” and a normal cramp.
The brilliant Bisla, who last played a match against Mumbai on 12 May, was delighted with his efforts and acknowledged Kallis’ influence.
“I don't think I've ever hit it like that. I'm really happy to help my team win the match,” he said.
“I didn’t really have a plan, I just wanted to enjoy myself. It was also a great opportunity to bat next to Jacques Kallis. He is a legend and he told me to keep it simple and play my shots, which I did.” DM
Photo: South Africa's Jacques Kallis laughs during a training session before their second cricket test match against England at Kingsmead in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal December 23, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown.