IPL: The day Kolkata Knight Riders lived up to Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo
Cameras focused on an animated Shahrukh Khan (centre) — whose expression showed years of struggle and the happiness of ultimate victory. His friends had to literally hold on to him as he was set to make a jump from the first tier © PTI

 

On May 27, 2012, the Kolkata Knight Riders clinched their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title by beating the Chennai Super Kings in their own den at MA Chidambaram Stadium. Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits that game.

 

 

There was always some drama attached to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). One of India’s most popular film-stars, Shahrukh Khan owned the side and his appeal garnered support from around the country. The glitz and the glamour quotient could have been distracting to the players and as controversies were in plenty. However, the crowning glory evaded them as King Khan and his fans waited for the victory in the final with hope.

 

Under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata built a good side. They gradually raised the bar during the 2012 season and qualified for the play-offs easily. Gambhir led from the front with the bat, but their real trump-card was the mystery spinner Sunil Narine. Kolkata made it into the final by beating Delhi Daredevils in the first qualifier.

 

If fairytales are to be scripted, there often is a challenging sub-plot. Chennai Super Kings made a back-door entry into the play-offs and stormed into the final. To make things tougher for Kolkata, they faced the roaring lions in their own den — the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and opted to put the runs on the board. The dangerous Chennai top-order plundered the bowling and amassed 190 on the big occasion. Suresh Raina bludgeoned 73 off only 38 balls – smashing five sixes along the way. The mysterious Narine wasn’t spared as well as he went wicket-less for 37 runs. At the half-way mark, things looked tough for Kolkata. Narine’s failure was a huge psychological blow. Kolkata’s batting needed to put a grand show. Were they prepared for it?

 

As Kolkata commenced their run-chase, they hoped for a Gambhir special. Manvinder Bisla, who replaced Brendon McCullum was the other opener Gambhir flashed outside the off-stump for his first runs and was off and running. But then, disaster struck as Ben Hilfenhaus shattered Gambhir’s woodwork..  Was the writing already on the wall? Perhaps not!

 

A famous commentator often says, a calamity presents an opportunity. Bisla surveyed the field and said to himself, “this could be my shot at fame.” The wicketkeeper-batsman started off his career with promise, but somewhere fell by the wayside. He wasn’t even in the eleven for Kolkata’s previous game. But, he wanted to grab the opportunity with  both hands.

 

At the other end, Bisla had the calming presence of Jacques Kallis for whom crisis situation was not a new thing. The duo gradually rebuilt the  innings. Bisla got going with a pull to the boundary of Hilfenhaus. Kallis was more sedate as it was Bisla who started taking the attack. Albie Morkel was hit for four boundaries in the fourth over. He was moving about the crease fearlessly and attacking anything in the zone.

 

Ravichandran Ashwin, Chennai’s main weapon was welcomed into the attack with two sixes. Bisla put the dancing shoes on and lofted the ball straight. He even charged at Dwayne Bravo and carted him over mid-off for six. Kolkata were at69 for one in seven overs with Bisla taking calculated risks.

 

Kallis was maintaining calm as Bisla had his day in the sun. There was no stopping him as the boundaries came easily. He raced to his half-century in only 27 balls. At the half-way mark, he had taken Kolkata to 100, 91 runs away from their maiden title triumph.

 

Fortune favoured brave Bisla as two of his inside-edges found the boundary. Kallis was getting overshadowed by this relatively unknown batsman.

 

At the end of the 14th over, Kolkata needed only 54 to get off 36 balls — a very gettable proposition in T20 cricket. Chennai were feeling the heat and the thought of losing would have loomed large. Dhoni needed to unleash his Midas touch to change things for his side. He introduced Morkel for one last over. As luck would have it, Bisla was out caught at point. That one false stroke cost him as he tried to cart a slower ball through the off-side. He walked back with his head held high having essayed one of the innings of the tournament. His 89 had come off only 48 balls.

 

It was now left to Kallis to finish the job. In the stands, a nervous Shahrukh watched the proceedings. His daughter clung on to him as the drama and the nerves were too much for her. Kallis realized he had to take matters in his own hands and hit Shadab Jakati for two fours in the 15th over to get to his fifty. There was a change in his approach now as he was ready to use his feet.

 

Laxmi Ratan Shukla was dismissed with 39 to get off 24 balls. The nerves were jangling but Knight Riders still had Kallis in the middle. He hit Bravo for a six over mid-wicket. It was a possible chance as Michael Hussey held on to it, but couldn’t juggle it in the air to take it outside the boundary. Yusuf Pathan came and went. Kolkata were losing the plot.

 

With 20 to get off the last two, it was anybody’s game. Hilfenhaus ran in and bowled accurately. He wasn’t ready to give anything away and the batsman had to do something special. Kallis did just that as he made room and tried to loft him inside-out. Instead of finding the boundary, he found the man at sweeper-cover. Chennai had bowled tight lines and 16 were needed off seven balls. For two overs they maintained the pressure and kept a check on the boundaries.

 

Just then, Hilfenhaus fumbled at the most critical juncture. He bowled a high full-toss to Shakib Al-Hasan who just swung his bat and ball lofted  in the air towards long-on. The batsmen ran two runs even as Murali Vijay took the catch and started celebrating — oblivious to the fact that a no-ball had been bowled. Shakib made full use of the extra delivery as he walked across his stumps and guided the ball over fine-leg. Kolkata needed nine off the last over.

 

Bravo returned to bowl the final over as Chennai hoped for some magic. He conceded only two runs off the first to balls and the hopes strengthened a touch for them. Manoj Tiwary took strike and looked around. Bravo bowled his typical slower ball but the batsman hit him over square-leg for four. It was now down to a run-a-ball. Shah Rukh couldn’t wait to jump on the field. The camp waited in anticipation.

 

In the midst of all the frenzy, Tiwary was calm as he pulled one through fine leg for four and the dug-out came alive. The players ran on to the field to celebrate this triumph. Cameras focused on an animated Shahrukh — whose expression showed years of struggle and the happiness of ultimate victory. His friends had to literally hold on to him as he was set to make a jump from the first tier.

 

“Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo” (Bengali for Do, Fight, Win) is easily the most popular jingle in the IPL and Kolkata lived up to the third claim that day. The City of Joy erupted in happiness as the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee organised a special welcome for the team. That was what it had meant for the sports crazy public of the city. It was the day cricket and entertainment won in tandem.

 

 

Brief scores:

 

Chennai Super Kings 190 for three in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 73, Michael Hussey 54) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 192 for five in 19.4 overs (Manvinder Bisla 89, Jacques Kallis 69; Ben Hilfenhaus 2 for 25) by 5 wickets.

 

Man of the match: Manvinder Bisla

 

Man of the tournament: Sunil Narine

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)