For more than an hour, the most prized assets of the IPL, the players, must have felt like unwanted children whose thunder was not as much stolen as snatched away.
At a ceremony more befitting a rock concert than a cricket final, actors, politicians, dancers, cheerleaders and celebrities indulged as players from both sides stood transfixed, witnessing lights, lasers, music, dancers, celebrities and even fire dovetail so harmoniously to serenade the receptive crowd at Mumbai's DY Patil stadium. After all, it was the IPL final and the organizers were letting the world know off it as glamour ruled the roost in its marriage with cricket.
<b1>But once Shane Warne and Mahendra Singh Dhoni strode towards the middle for the toss and the music ebbed, it was the cricket that flowed and coruscated. Finals are usually cagey affairs, a battle of brain rather than brawn that are punctuated more by minimizing mistakes than taking risks. But this one was a tantalizing affair, perhaps ordered by the cricketing Gods after the two damp squibs in the semifinals. And in the end, backed by the impudence and muscle of Yusuf Pathan, the verve of Shane Watson, the butterfingers and frayed nerves of the Chennai team, and the mystifying kismet and scripts of their 'captain fantastic', Warne and his merry bunch stole a last-ball three-wicket win over Chennai to lift the diamond-studded inaugural IPL trophy.
This was not for the faint of heart. Needing eight runs off the last over and one run off the final delivery in a final that had more twists than a maze, Tanvir pulled Laxmipathy Balaji to the fence as the celebrations began in right earnest for Jaipur, deserved winners of the tournament. At 42 for three chasing Chennai's 164, it had seemed that Jaipur's bubble will burst in the cruelest way possible. But as has been the motif of the tournament, the muse once again took Pathan and Watson.
Outrageous strokes followed outrageous strokes as Pathan and Watson had the temerity to indulge in a counterattack so brutal that it knocked the stuffing out of Chennai. Dropped twice at key stages and spared a run out, the nerveless Yusuf rode his luck and erupted like a volcano, engendering an exhilarating spectacle. He cudgeled three sixes off Muralitharan, and was equally disdainful towards Balaji as he cut, pulled, swatted and drove ferociously.
<b2>Suresh Raina must be pardoned for feeling like Herschelle Gibbs. Like Gibbs had spooned Steve Waugh, eliciting now fabled "you've dropped the World Cup" quote, Raina too dropped Pathan when he was on just 13. And although he showed remarkable fortitude and eagerness when he brilliantly ran out Pathan on 56 (39 balls, 3x4, 4x6) to turn the match on its head, Pathan had already inflicted the damage before he was run out. Manpreet Gony too dropped Pathan when he was on 33.
However, credit must also be given to Dhoni's men for fighting back the way they did after Pathan's dismissal. Suddenly, they were jolted from their slumber and transformed from kittens to tigers as they sensed an unlikely win. It was only Warne and Tanvir's composure that halted their charge.
Earlier, led by the elegance and industry of Raina and Parthiv Patel respectively, with Dhoni putting the long handle and his strong forearms to good use towards the end, Chennai set Jaipur a dicey target of 164. Full Scorecard | See pics | First semi-final: Story | Second semi-final: Story
Jaipur wins the toss and decided to bat first
Jaipur - Kamran Akmal(wk), Swapnil Asnodkar, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammed Kaif, Shane Watson, Niraj Patel, Ravinder Jadeja, Shane Warne(c), Siddharta Trivedi, Munaf Patel, Sohail Tanvir
Chennai - Parthiv Patel(wk), S Vidyut, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(c), CK Kapugedera, S Badrinath, Albie Morkel, Manpreet Gony, Laxmi Balaji, M Muralitharan, Makhaya Ntini