As the IPL-5 final trudged towards a nervy climax,the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) dug-out was struck by a bout of intense superstition. Movement was barred. Players and support staff had to remain rooted to where they were. Those standing had to endure aching limbs and stay on their feet. Though dismissed in the very first over of his teams chase,skipper Gautam Gambhir too sat stoically,refusing to take his pads off. Behind his reddish shades,KKR team owner Shah Rukh Khan,meanwhile,wasnt displaying any emotion in the stands either.
In those tense moments at the MA Chidambaram Stadium,Shakib Al Hasan suddenly turned to Manoj Tiwary and insisted that adding the finishing touches to the contest would fall on their shoulders. The Bengal middle-order batsman reveals to have not taken his teammates suggestion too seriously,considering how comfortably Manvinder Bisla and Jacques Kallis seemed to be guiding KKR to victory. But as fate would have it,Shakibs words came true,as the former Bangladesh captain was joined by Tiwary in the middle with Kolkata still requiring 16 runs off the last seven deliveries.
The equation then came down to nine off Dwayne Bravos final over. As Tiwary recalls now,KKR had failed to defend the exact number of runs when they were knocked out by Mumbai Indians in the eliminator last year. But the similarity in the two scenarios was not going to be a deterrent for Tiwary here. Here was a perfect opportunity to set the record straight.
That day we had to defend nine runs and we couldnt. Those scenes were very clear in my head as I walked out to bat. But I was confident that the result for us would be different this time around.
For starters,adds Tiwary,he still couldnt believe that Shakib had predicted the outcome so conclusively. He wasnt complaining though. And with two consecutive boundaries,Tiwary also ensured that KKR would achieve the ultimate dream of lifting the IPL crown for the first time. The stylish right-hander admits that he had guessed perfectly where Bravo was going to bowl at him,and that made all the difference.
Bravo had brought mid-off inside the circle,which was an indication that he will bowl short. There was huge gap between fine leg and square leg,and I was eying that spot. Luckily I connected well on both occasions, says Tiwary about those final few moments.
His phone hasnt stopped ringing ever since. Tiwarys phone history now boasts of around 250 missed calls and nearly 300 unread messages. As expected,KKRs maiden IPL triumph was celebrated with fanatical vigour and the party carried on till Monday morning. The magnitude of KKRs achievement,Tiwary says,took quite a while to sink in for everyone involved with the victory.
In contrast,the KKR camp was besieged by an overwhelming sense of tension,24 hours earlier,on the eve of the final. According to Tiwary,it was a combination of a rousing speech from Gambhir and an emotional set of videos,which had players families offering their wishes to the team,that inspired them. The bus ride to the stadium too was a tense affair. After all this was the day that KKR had been waiting for.
I think we were destined to win. We had played good cricket over the last two months. The video was emotional and Gambhirs speech charged everyone up. He told us that no one will remember the team coming second. This was the moment we all had been waiting for. This was our shot at ultimate glory, he says.
And while along the way,KKR found a new hero in Bisla,it was Kolkatas homegrown boy-wonder who took them home in dramatic fashion on a night that Tiwary & Co will never forget. A night that they didnt want to end.