Knights seize the day

Bisla’s 48-ball 89 guides Gambhir & Co to five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings and maiden IPL title

Written by Raakesh Natraj | Chennai | Published:May 28, 2012 2:05 am

In the last over of the Chennai Super Kings innings,things were dire for the visitors. It was only half way through the match,but Kolkata Knight Riders seemed to have given up. Chennai were 182 for 2 in 19 overs and Shakib-Al Hasan began the final over with a wide. Off the fourth ball,the usually reliable Manoj Tiwary let one slip through his fingers in the deep to let the batsmen turn back for two. The next ball,as Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni eased up after completing the single,they hurriedly turned around for the second as a hopeless throw from the deep managed to evade the bowler and all the other fielders in the circle.

Chennai had amassed 190 for three in 20 overs,setting the kind of target that is rarely chased down in IPL,let alone in the final.

In the first over of the chase,Gautam Gambhir — Kolkata’s second,and by then the last trump card after Sunil Narine had earlier gone for his most expensive four overs of the tournament — heaved. Ben Hilfenhaus moved the ball a shade,enough to sneak past the bat and flatten the wickets. The visitor’s highest run scorer had been dismissed for two and their most successful bowler had gone for 35 wicketless runs in four overs.

Kolkata were defanged and the two-time defending champions were now in terra firma. The all-too-familiar garrotting that visiting teams are put through at the Chepauk was just around the corner.

Nothing to lose

Was it then that Kolkata decided it was as well as over and with nothing to lose,they might as well have a swing?

Was it the calm that envelopes the doomed when it dawns that everything that can go wrong already has? Was it then that the incessant pressure that had been building on them ever since Chennai’s openers Murali Vijay and Michael Hussey set things in motion with a 87-run partnership,finally blew the valve?

Whatever it was that transpired in the middle and between the players’ ears,Gambhir’s dismissal had the effect of lifting a hatch.

Manvinder Bisla,27-year old wicket-keeping batsman,with a first class average of 29 and a List A strike rate of 70.27,turned up to play the kind of innings that perhaps comes along once in a tournament.

Chennai,last season,had been stung by the ferocity of one such knock,by a certain Paul Valthaty,and like during that evening,the defending champion would suffer.

Bisla (48-ball 89),in the company of a steady Jacques Kallis (69) sabotaged the screening of Chennai’s favourite script with a 136-run association in 13.4 overs.

Twin boundaries by Manoj Tiwary off Dwayne Bravo took the side home with two balls to spare.

Cool-headed effort

The magnitude of Bisla’s knock and Kolkata’s cool-headed chase have to be seen against two enlightening factors. Firstly,the performances was a final and what was asked of Kolkata,whether the side would be able to summon their nerve for the occasion,was answered emphatically.

Secondly,the side did it in spite of the stinker the skipper had at office. Gambhir held back his bowling spearhead Narine until well after Chennai’s batsmen had bedded in,bowling him for three overs from the fifteenth,by which time the batsmen had all dug themselves in.

Michael Hussey,Murali Vijay and even Suresh Raina,who had had a mediocre IPL until then and was coming off a first-ball duck in the previous game,had already found their range. Narine went for 33 runs in the three subsequent overs. If that weren’t enough,Gambhir sent out Laxmi Shukla ahead of the likes of Yusuf Pathan and Al Hasan and the move predictably flopped,and in the process almost handed CSK the momentum.

In the end,it turned out that the best thing that happened to Kolkata was Lakshmipathy Balaji’s pulled hamstring in the Qualifier,an unfortunate injury that handed Bisla a back-door entry.

And Gambhir’s best move had been made before the match started.

Chase explained

Gambhir,the stand-out performer for KKR this season falls in the first over for two,stalling their chase of CSK’s 190.

There’s a twist in the tale as Bisla plays the knock of his young life,giving KKR the perfect thrust with a 48-ball 89.

SRK’s team has an Aamir Khanesque Lagaan moment,as a sedate Kallis launches into his first six attempt,only to be caught behind the rope.

With 39 runs to win off 22 balls,blow hot-blow cold Yusuf Pathan walks into the middle,and blows cold once more — holing out for a 2-ball 1.

As Kallis falls for 69 in the penultimate over,it’s still anyone’s game with 16 to win off 7. Hilfenhaus would have had two in two,but his waist high no-ball frees Shakib off punishment,who crashes him for a boundary to put KKR on the brink.

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