Tamil Nadu boy Murali Vijay set up the final for Chennai Super Kings with a sizzling 95 while another local hero, R Ashwin, effectively clinched the Indian Premier League title with a brilliant opening spell — and Chris Gayle's wicket for a duck — against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.
The men in luminous yellow produced a superb all-round performance to give evidence of their impregnability at the MA Chidambaram Stadium and continue their dream run. CSK, also the reigning Champions League winners, became the first team to retain the IPL title.
Against any other team, a total of 205 at the slow Chepauk track would have meant curtains for the chasing team. It is the highest score at the venue this season, CSK eclipsing its own total of 183, also scored against Bangalore in the league stage. But RCB had Gayle, the scourge of all bowlers in this IPL; CSK also had a taste of his destructive abilities during their away game at Chinnaswamy Stadium last week. In the end, RCB finished tamely on 147 for eight to lose by 58 runs.
In Ashwin, the home team had a weapon against the big man from Jamaica, but given the hit he had taken on his head against Gayle's team on Tuesday night, it was brave to even turn up for the game. However, Ashwin is as courageous as they come, and once the doctor gave him the green signal, there was no stopping the off-spinner.
And it needed just three balls for the local hero to lead the sea of yellow at the Chidambaram Stadium to a victory dance.
Ashwin won the contest hand down when he got one to skid in to induce Gayle to edge for skipper MS Dhoni to accept the catch gleefully. The lanky bowler bowled opener Mayank Agarwal in the next over.
The Chennai celebrations did not stop since, as the rattled RCB batsmen had no clue how to go about the massive chase with their big gun back in the hut. Earlier, to the delight of the home fans, Vijay (95 off 52 balls) and Mike Hussey (63 off 25 balls) put up a grand batting show. The two were all confidence and aggression as they out the RCB attack to sword in a thrilling 159-run partnership in 14.5 overs.
The winners took home Rs 10 crore, runners-up Rs 7.5 crore.