An unheralded domestic player and an international superstar. When the Indian Premier League was first conceptualised this is what the powers that be had in mind. On Sunday, it was this mixture of local heroics and a big name performer earning his stripes, and the millions in his contract, that ended the reign of the kings of the IPL, Chennai Super Kings, and saw the Kolkata Knight Riders being crowned champions.
A once-in-a-lifetime innings of 89 off just 48 balls by Himachal Pradesh Ranji player Manvinder Bisla and an equally stirring 49-ball 69 by Jacques Kallis guided the Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise to the title with a five-wicket win in the final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.
KKR received an early setback when skipper and talismanic batsman Gautam Gambhir was bowled off a Ben Hilfenhaus beauty in the first over.
Bisla started slowly and got two runs off his first 5 balls. It all changed with one short-pitched Hilfenhaus delivery, which he pulled for a boundary. From there his confidence sky-rocketed and he started going for his shots. Together with Kallis, he stitched together a 136-run partnership that put KKR with victory in their sight.
There was a late stutter and CSK fought back like defending champions are wont to do. It all boiled down to the last six balls, with KKR needing 9 runs. They needed just four balls as back-to-back boundaries by Manoj Tiwary took them past the finish line and sealed a historic triumph.
Chennai Super Kings' openers Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay took off from where they left off against the Delhi Daredevils. After a watchful first two overs that yielded just six runs, the duo cut loose. Hussey shimmied down the pitch to compatriot Brett Lee and smashed him to the boundary. Vijay got into the act and smacked the last ball for a front-foot boundary over mid-on. Lee was at the receiving end again as he got smashed for 19 runs in his third over.
After racing away to 86 in the first 10 overs, CSK received their first setback when Vijay was brilliantly caught in the deep by Shakib Al Hasan, who dived full length to his left and caught the ball one-handed, to hand Rajat Bhatia the initial breakthrough.
This brought to the crease Suresh Raina, who thus far had a disappointing campaign. Raina took the perfect game to come good, and hit his first boundary with a massive heave off a Jacques Kallis shorter one over mid-wicket for six.
After hitting Yusuf Pathan, Brett Lee and Sunil Narine for three more sixes, Raina caught up with Mike Hussey, and even raced ahead. Raina had progressed to 58, while Hussey remained at 54, before the Australian's crucial knock was ended by Kallis.
Dhoni entered next, to a rapturous applause fit for a king. Chants of Dhoni, Dhoni rang across the Chepauk. Dhoni didn't disappoint the fans and hit his second and third deliveries to the boundary rope.
Raina at the other end hit Narine for another maximum. By the time he fell off the last ball of the innings, he'd struck 73 off just 38 balls with 3 fours and 5 sixes, and helped Chennai post a commanding total.