Chennai: Manvinder Sultansingh Bisla justified his late inclusion with a brilliant knock of 89 that carried Kolkata Knight Riders to a memorable five-wicket victory against Chennai Super Kings for their maiden trophy success in the Indian Premier League here Sunday.
The Super Kings, champions in the previous two seasons, looked to be in command when they posted 190 for four after batting first on winning the toss, and then dismissing Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir in the very first over.
But Bisla (89 of 49 balls) and veteran Jacques Kallis (69 off 49) put together a match-winning partnership of 136 runs to set up a deserving victory in the final over when Manoj Tiwary smashed two consecutive boundaries off Dwayne Bravo for the winning runs.
Kolkata’s success was even more creditable considering they had to reshuffle their line-up in the wake of injury to seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji. They brought in Bisla while dropping opener Brendon McCullum and replacing the Kiwi big-hitter with all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
In contrast, the Super Kings appeared a settled unit and after their top order batsmen – openers Michael Hussey (54) and Murali Vijay (42) and then Suresh Raina (73) – firing in unison, looked set to win the final until the onslaught by Bisla and Kallis who both batted out of their skins to guide their team to victory.
The Knight Riders went home richer by $2 million in prize money and the Super Kings received $1.5million as the runners-up.
Bisla was a revelation as he has had a very ordinary season with the bat, but on the big night, he stepped up to play a gem of a knock that took Knight Riders close to victory.
With Kallis proving to be an able foil, Bisla grew in stature. However, Bisla fell in the 15th over, just 11 short of a century. Thereafter, the Knight Riders lost a couple of wickets leaving them to get 20 runs off the last two overs.
Kallis departed in the 19th when he smashed a full-toss off Hilfenhaus to Ravindra Jadeja, but a lucky boundary off the last ball of that over left Kolkata to get nine off the last over bowled by Bravo with Shakib Al Hasan and Manoj Tiwary at the crease.
Tiwary swung the third ball to the square-leg fence and the Knight Riders needed three off the last three deliveries. He again pulled the next ball to the boundary for the winning runs and set off celebrations in the Knight Riders camp.
There was a lot of purpose and skill in the Super Kings batting, best exemplified by the two partnerships that helped the side post a competitive total.
At the start, it was Vijay and Hussey who, after a cautious start, opened up to put the Kolkata bowling to the sword with another wonderful exhibition of calculated hitting.
There were no wild slogs or unnecessary attempts at improvisation, but it was an attack that had some method as the duo batted with élan to post another half-century partnership.
The innings gained momentum when fast bowler Brett Lee and left-arm spinner Hassan were each hit for 11 runs in the third and fourth overs. Thereafter, neither batsman was troubled by the Knight Riders bowlers, including Narine who was brought on for the fifth over.
The partnership flourished and raised visions of yet another big total when Vijay, the centurion in the previous game, holed out in the deep off seamer Rajat Bhatia in the 11th over.
In walked Raina and immediately forged an excellent stand with Hussey who celebrated his birthday with a half-century and seemed determined to stay on till the end.
Raina, struggling for runs this season, found his touch at the right moment and batted with rare freedom to pile on misery on the Kolkata bowlers none of whom made an impression.
Hussey, after battling on gamely despite looking rather tired in the extremely hot and humid conditions, departed in the 18th over missing out on a heave off Jacques Kallis to be bowled.
But the Super Kings were not quite finished yet as Raina and Dhoni (14 off 9) added 30 runs for the third wicket before the former fell to the last ball to a brilliant catch by Lee off Hasan.
By then, the damage had been done and the Super Kings batsmen yet again underlined their undoubted class to post a total that looked beyond Kolkata’s reach, but was not to be as it transpired.