By Suneer Chowdhary
Chennai: May 28, 2011
Chennai did have to break a lot of sweat in their retaining of the IPL, but that only because of the superb running between the wickets and the fielding display exhibited by then. Otherwise, it was a cakewalk for the defending champions, winning the final by 58 runs and in turn holding the trophy for the second time in a row.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore never looked like they were in hunt and fizzled out for 147 for eight in their chase of 206 for a win at the M Chidamabaram in Chennai and relegated them to their second runner-up title.
Not that 206 was ever going to be very easy to chase in a pressure-final like this. However, the fear of an early Chris Gayle-dismissal leading to a capitulation came true. Chris Gayle failed to trouble the score-keepers, getting a thin edge through to the wicket-keeper in the very first over of the chase and with him went the side’s chances.
Mayank Agarwal smacked a couple of boundaries but his attempt to cut the carom-ball from Ashwin had his stumps dislodged. There was a quick 32-run stand for the third wicket between AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli that seemed to raise the fans’ hopes but once Shadab Jakati had had the better of the South African, Bangalore were staring at an asking rate of almost 12.
Jakati produced a chinaman to surprise Luke Pomersbach and after being hit for a six off his first ball, Suresh Raina trapped Kohli, albeit rather fortunately, lbw. The ball was shown to be pitching outside the leg-stump.
Daniel Vettori’s sojourn at the crease lasted a single ball and after slamming a couple to the fence, Abhimanyu Mithun was the seventh man returning to the pavilion with Bangalore at 92.
In an inconsequential passage of play, Saurabh Tiwary and Zaheer Khan added 38 for the eighth wicket but by then, the Super Kings had both their hands on the trophy. Tiwary remained not-out on 42 but by then, the Royal Challengers Bangalore had been killed from the contest.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have had issues with their bowling in the past in this IPL, but chose the most inopportune time to almost not turn up. The Indian fans would have been probably reminded of the final of the 2003 World Cup when the bowlers were taken apart by a superlative Ricky Ponting and Australia piled on 359.
In this game, it was Vijay who ran and slammed his way to 52-ball 95 and in partnership with Michael Hussey added the best ever for the first wicket. The pair added 159 in less than 15 overs and laid the foundation for a sterling 205 for five in the 20 overs.
Vijay had gone into the game riding on some poor form, but it hardly seemed that way tonight. In partnership with Hussey, he ran like a hare and each time he got an opportunity, he slammed the ball into the stands. While it would have been exciting to watch the flow of sixes, it was the running between the wickets that stood out conspicuously. The pair ran the opposition ragged with this facet of their game.
Chennai scored 56 without loss in their first six overs, got to 94 after ten and had their run-rate touching 10 at the end of the 12th.
Vijay’s half century came from 29 balls while Hussey took 40 for his and at 159 for no loss, the duo was sitting on the highest ever partnership for the first wicket in IPL history.
Hussey’s 63 was ended by Syed Mohammad but by then, the Super Kings had enough of a base to get to more than 200. Vijay had a chance to get to his second IPL ton and attempted to get there with a six. However, by then, the fatigue had set in and he only managed to spoon it to the fielder at the boundary.
On a pressure final-day like this one, 205 was never going to be easy to chase down but with Gayle in their line-up, the Royal Challengers Bangalore had hope. Sadly, he missed out and Bangalore went hurtling down to another runner-up trophy.
Brief Scores: CSK 205 for 5 in 20 overs (Murali Vijay 95, Michael Hussey 63; Chris Gayle 2 for 34) bt RCB 147 for 8 in 20 overs (Saurabh Tiwary 42; R Ashwin 3 for 16) by 58 runs
Man of the Match: Murali Vijay
Man of the Series: Chris Gayle
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)