IPL 7 Final: Crown to Kolkata with an incredible win

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Piyush Chawla scythed Parvinder Awana behind point for a boundary and broke into a frenzied sprint, which ended up in a sprawl on the turf as his Kolkata Knight Riders teammates engulfed him. Chawla had perhaps played the most important shot – and the most important cameo – of his career: the four on the third delivery of the 19th over, which handed Gautam Gambhir’s team their second IPL trophy in three years, by three wickets, this time at the expense of the most explosive team of the season, Kings XI Punjab.

It was a rightful shot for Chawla to have played. For though his five-ball 13 was but a droplet in the IPL ocean of of runs, it came at a time most crucial, and also included a courageous hooked six off the pace of Mitchell Johnson. The chubby leg-spinner had even shed his blood for the team cause, when he clumsily smacked the ball on to his mouth while taking a catch in the first innings. This was Kolkata’s ninth win on the trot in 2014 and it came after they held their nerve through a tricky chase during which they had required rate well in control, but had lost one wicket too many.
The final of IPL-7 did not really follow the lines of its billing: a contest between the best batting side versus its mightiest bowling outfit. What it turned out to be was what T20 cricket was always about – a punch-up of heavy bats and big hits. After Wriddhiman Saha’s swashbuckling 55-ball 115 (the first century in an IPL final and the first by an Indian wicket-keeper) had propelled a slow-starting Punjab to 199 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Manish Pandey’s 50-ball 94 helped Kolkata overhaul it, but not without a healthy sprinkling of sideplots.

Punjab would have considered themselves favourites after Johnson sent back Orange Cap holder Robin Uthappa in the first over of the chase. Skipper Gautam Gambhir too perished for 23 – the first of leg-spinner Karanveer Singh’s four wickets – and it was left to Pandey and Yusuf Pathan to sort things out. Pathan did it the only way he knows: clubbing four sixes in a 22-ball 36. He added 71 in 7.2 overs with Pandey before holing out to Karanveer.

Pandey meanwhile was marching to his own tune. He reached fifty in 34 balls and was dropped by George Bailey on 59. As if to redeem himself – with KKR needing 49 off the last five overs – Bailey ran-out Shakib Al Hasan (12) with a direct hit, in a reprisal of what he had done to Suresh Raina and Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2. The plot thickened when Pandey and Ryan ten Doeschate (4) were out in quick succession trying to force the pace off Karanveer. But with 15 needed in the last two overs, Chawla hooked Johnson for six over deep backward square-leg to make a win attainable.

Punjab’s prolific M’s, Maxwell and Miller, and a resurgent Virender Sehwag had earlier contributed just 8 in 12 balls and Kings were 32/2 after 6 overs and 58/2 after 10 overs – their lowest scores this season after Gambhir invited them to bat. Sehwag (7) fell to an Umesh Yadav bouncer that grew on him. Bailey promoted himself over Maxwell, only to be bowled by Narine’s first ball of the match, the first of the sixth over. Even more of a surprise was watching Saha pad out instead of Maxwell to join Manan Vohra.

Saha and Vohra (67) went on to add 129 in 12 overs following a watchful start against Kolkata’s second-line of spinners. Saha was spectacular with his power and placement and seemed to be perpetually aware of changes to the field. He caught up to reach a half-century in just 29 balls and then mauled the bowling. Morne Morkel was whipped to the leg-side, the pacy Umesh slapped arrogantly for six and Narine, usually the most miserly of them all, was carted for 46 in his four overs.

It was off Narine that Saha cracked the six that gave him a century – a shot that was parried over the boundary by the fielder. And although Narine dropped Saha off his own bowling when the batsman was on 60 – and also had Vohra’s stumping missed by an over-eager Uthappa – it was undoubted that the ‘mystery’ spinner had been cracked open. Unfortunately, for Punjab, a cracking of severer proportions awaited their own bowlers.

Source: Yahoo Cricket

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