The Kolkata Knight Riders kept their collective calm in a high-scoring final for the second time in three years to become one of the most successful teams of the IPL. Manish Pandey’s 94 off 50 balls helped the side pull off a chase of 200 and despite Kings XI Punjab coming back with several late strikes, Kolkata sneaked home in the thriller with three balls and three wickets to spare. With their ninth win in a row of the edition, Kolkata joined the Chennai Super Kings, whom they had defeated in the final two years ago, as the only side to have claimed multiple IPL trophies.
The final did not follow any of the pre-game narratives, with most of the big names touted as the players-to-watch-for failing to contribute. For Punjab, who lost the toss and were asked to bat, the combine of Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey and Virender Sehwag, whom reputation and recent history have marked out as match winners, could only manage nine runs between the four of them. Instead, it was Wriddhiman Saha who came up with the most destructive innings in an IPL final so far. The wicket-keeper batsman smashed his way to a 55-ball unbeaten 115 and was instrumental in Punjab reaching 199/4 batting first. If his uncompromising hitting was scarcely believable, so was the fact that such a knock could actually end up in a losing cause. It was equally bizzare that Punjab’s Akshar Patel (four overs for 21 runs), the only bowler to have gone at less than six runs an over in a game where 400 runs were scored in less than 40 overs, also did not end the day with his hands around the trophy.
Big names flop
Continuing with the theme of the failure of the big names, neither Robin Uthappa, who had scored 40 or more in his last eight innings, nor Sunil Narine, in the running for the purple cap, did the job for the Knight Riders. After Pandey’s assault, it was eventually left to Piyush Chawla to win the game for Kolkata. After a cramping Pandey had holed out in the 17th over, followed two balls later by the dismissal of Suryakumar Yadav, Kolkata had seemingly thrown away their measured chase with a rash of wickets at the end. They had gone at more or less the 10 runs an over that was required to win the game through the chase, but now found themselves needing 13 runs off ten balls with the ultra-quick Mitchell Johnson having a chance to run through their tail and claim the three wickets needed for Punjab’s maiden IPL title triumph.
The left-arm pacer, who had kept Chawla and Narine guessing with his yorkers until then, suddenly reverted continued…