By Suneer Chowdhary
Chennai Super Kings retained their IPL trophy, thus becoming the first team to win it twice in its four-year old history.
Here are the moments in the tournament that propelled the Super Kings to the title.
The Srikkanth & Southee show
These were the pre-Michael Hussey times in the tournament. Anirudha Srikkanth opened the innings for the Super Kings and surprised the fans with his maturity, scoring a 64 in the process. Then, chasing 154 for a win, the Super Kings seemed to be in soup when the Kolkata Knight Riders needed only nine from the last over and five from three. Tim Southee held his nerves and restricted the opponents to only two and won it for the side and somehow, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had managed to stage a coup again!
Anirudha made the occasion more memorable by saying, “No, I did not bat like my dad (but much more sensibly!)”
Michael Hussey checks in
It was Michael Hussey’s first game in the tournament this season and the Super Kings’ third. Chennai batted first and Hussey, opening the innings, shored up the side with a superb, unbeaten 83 as he batted through the 20 overs. It allowed others to play their strokes throughout the innings and the side raced off to 183 for 5 in their 20 overs at the Chepauk – the previous highest score at the ground before the final this year. Bangalore managed 162 and Chennai had two wins in three games.
Bowlers choke the Pune Warriors
They were defending only 142 against what was then considered a strong Pune Warriors India batting. And conceding 29 in his four overs, Albie Morkel was the least economical of the Super Kings bowlers. He also picked three wickets in the process. The rest of them, the part-timers included, were simply unplayable. Doug Bollinger got a couple of wickets for 20, while Ravichandran Ashwin went for a runless and took two as well as Pune was bowled out for 117.
Badrinath bats Chennai to win
Often underrated, thanks to a very correct style of batting even in this format of the game, Subramaniam Badrinath had earlier scored a 50 in the tournament, but this was his day to cover himself with glory. A total of142 was not a stiff target in Chennai’s away game against Pune, but the pitch gave indications of holding up a little. Badrinath was promoted in the order, batted for 44 balls and slammed an unbeaten 63.
Earlier, Bollinger’s 3 for 21 from four overs had done enough to break the Pune top-order and later, win the man of the match award.
The post-Powerplay collapse - I
This was the game against the Deccan Chargers where the Hyderabad side needed 166 for a win and were 71 without loss in the seventh over. Sunny Sohal was going hammer and tongs to score 56 from only 30 balls as the asking rate was brought down to less than seven per over. Then Shadab Jakati picked up two in three overs, Morkel had another three and the Chargers collapsed, adding only another 75 in the remaining 13 overs.
This was also the beginning of the period when teams began to realise how difficult it was to maintain the hitting-consistency against Super Kings through the 20 overs.
The post-Powerplay collapse – II
The Rajasthan Royals were their second victims. After 10 overs, they had made 86 without loss. Morkel picked up another two, so did Jakati and the Royals were asphyxiated to only 61 from their last 10 overs to end on a below-par total of147 in their stipulated time, which was easily overhauled through half-centuries from Hussey and Raina.
The MS Dhoni Show - I
MS Dhoni hadn’t had a decent bat in the middle and it was already the 52nd game of the IPL. And when he finally did, it was in the backdrop of three 40-plus scores from the top three – Hussey, Vijay and Raina all giving their side a rollicking start. Dhoni’s 19-ball 41 added another level of momentum and the side smashed 196 in their 20 overs against the Royals. This meant that every batsman in the top order had done the business in the tournament for the Super Kings. And oh, the Royals were bowled out for 133!
The MS Dhoni show – II
CSK hardly looked like getting to that eventual total of 176 when they were 68 for three in the 11th over. The man who changed the complexion of the game was Dhoni. In partnership with Badrinath, Dhoni slammed his way to a stroke-filled 31-ball 63. Delhi were no match to that to be outclassed by the Chennai side.
Saha gets brickbats, strokes them away his bat:
If playing a second wicket-keeper not known for his batting skills was a surprise, then the sight of him coming out to bat ahead of Dhoni, Albie Morkel and Dwyane Bravo was a shocker. But Wriddhiman Saha justified captain Dhoni’s faith in him. With the Super Kings not in the most pink of health, Saha smashed three sixes in his unbeaten 46 (33 balls) and guided the team to 152. Kochi were never in the hunt to get close and Saha won the player of the game award. Another cog had been added to the batting wheel.
Chennai beat Bangalore – Part I
This was the first qualifying game which the side had got through to by the virtue of their second place in the points table. Raina had gone into the game with three half-centuries in the tournament, but also a string of other low scores. This was his fourth and the most important of the innings he played in the tournament. Chasing a very difficult 176 for the win, the Super Kings had lost two early wickets and were only 70 at the end of the 11th over, when Badrinath was dismissed.
And then Raina began counter-attacking, smashed six sixes and four boundaries to carry his side to an improbable win. For most part of his innings of 73, he had cramped his way through to the win. However, even with his aggression in the second part of the knock, the side needed 12 off the last over. Albie Morkel finished them off with an unbeaten 10-ball 28 that included a six to round things off.
Chennai beat Bangalore – Part II
It was the final and Vijay had had an ordinary tournament thus far. He had had two half-centuries in 15 innings – hardly par for a batsman who had been retained before the auction. And then, as if on cue, he made the final game his. There was a 159-run stand for the first wicket with Hussey – the highest ever for the first wicket – which laid the foundation for a 205 for five after 20 and Vijay had made 95. The century may have been missed but it had done enough for Chennai to record the biggest ever IPL win in a final and for him to win the man of the finals award!
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at email@example.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)