The Mumbai Indians were the people's choice. There was admiration behind the campaign Sachin Tendulkar managed for his team this year and how he battled injury.
The venue was buzzing with support for Tendulkar as the great man chose to disregard injury and make himself available. The
cameras kept panning at him — it was meant to be his night.
It could still have been his night. But his team fared poorly. They were ordinary in the final eight overs --- catches were dropped, as it turned out twice crucially in favour of Suresh Raina, who was Chennai's hero. The bowlers invariably followed up good balls with some loose stuff.
When the chase began, Tendulkar needed positive partners. Opener Shikhar Dhawan was all at sea and even though Abhishek Nayar hit two sixes, what these two did was to force Tendulkar to take risks and lose composure. It was apparent Mumbai were beginning to lag behind in the chase.
A couple of decisions in the run chase have caused heartburn among the Mumbai Indian fans. Particularly, Harbhajan Singh and Jean Paul Duminy being sent ahead of Kieron Pollard.
Tendulkar believed Pollard was best suited for the final dash rather than be confused with a mixed role in the middle overs where he would have had to defend and attack in equal measure.
The jury is still out on this judgment. A couple of more overs for Pollard might have done the trick.
Sticking to Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu, his trusted youngsters up the order, would have helped.
Tendulkar batted as bravely as he could under the circumstances.
After the final, Tendulkar greeted cricketers and officials with his left hand, protecting the injured right one. It conveyed how heroic his decision to play had been.
The champagne moment was of course reserved for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He played a critical hand when Chennai were floundering and his bowling changes were spot-on.
Dhoni was also his usual formidable self behind the stumps, picking up catches and effecting run outs. His positioning of Matthew Hayden to get rid of Pollard was a classic piece of captaincy.
Their catching too was in contrast to the Mumbai Indians. Chennai's campaign was all the more remarkable since Hayden didn't have a major role in it.
Raina has come of age in this IPL. It bodes well for India's campaign in the T20 World Cup.