The title of this piece looks amiss. It should have been more aptly phrased as “Determined Kolkata Deny A Maiden Victory to Kings Eleven…”. But this author wanted to accentuate emphasis on the complete involvement of KXIP’s absolutely beautiful part-owner, who was her team’s most vociferous supporter all through the tournament. She travelled with the team everywhere and her child-like enthusiasm was infectious to the hilt. When KXIP lost the thrilling final in the last over, Preity Zinta sat slumped and dazed. The final denial was therefore hers. It was fitting that the last IPL match went to the wire in the end. T20 Cricket fans around the world couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling finish to the 45- day long extravaganza between two teams owned by glamorous Bollywood stars.
Winning the toss and opting to chase turned out to be a good decision for Gautam Gambhir. KXIP lost Virender Sehwag early and that was a blow. Just as the crowd expected Glenn Maxwell to join Manan Vohra, one saw George Bailey walking out. To some extent, this change in the batting order hurt KXIP. Bailey has not shown the process of getting into his groove early. He is a dangerous limited overs player alright, but on Sunday, anyone of Maxwell or Miller could have been a better one-drop choice. Bailey didn’t last long, however, as Sunil Narine foxed him with one of his more playable deliveries. 30/2 in 5.1 overs was an ominous beginning for a team, whose progress in IPL has been based on its phenomenal batting strength. Wridhiman Saha joined Vohra in the middle and once again the assumption of the crowd went haywire; they expected Maxwell. But Vohra and Saha knew the gravity of the situation much better than the thousands in the stands at Chinnaswamy stadium and millions watching the live coverage. Unfortunately KXIP lost precious overs, before the two batsmen went into the most unexpected overdrive. At the end of the 10th over, Punjab’s score had reached just 58/2. But slowly and steadily, the complex of the game began to undergo a transformation. The two Indian cricketers became belligerent and Gambhir was alarmed, when they went for the KKR bowlers at will. Saha blasted Piyush Chawla for two sixes in the 12th over and collected 15 runs and scored another 10 from Shakib-Al-Hasan’s next. Their aggression prompted Gambhir to bring in Sunil Narine for the 13th over. Saha was unruffled as he first hoisted Narine for a six and then hit 2 fours off the next two balls. Vohra finished the over with another four to make it 19 off KKR’s most dangerous bowler. Both batsmen reached half-centuries in Narine’s over. To bowl over no. 15, Gambhir summoned Morne Morkel but Saha and Vohra treated the South African with disdain, scoring 20 from this over. KXIP began eying a big total at the end of 20. There was a bit of a slowdown in the 16th over but the 17th went for 19 runs. With 3 overs remaining KXIP had reached 159/2. There was bad news for KXIP in 18th over from Chawla. In wanting to whack the bowler, Vohra got a big edge and Chawla himself caught him in second attempt. In the same over Glenn Maxwell also departed for a duck. But Saha was not finished yet as he blasted Narine for 17 runs and completed a well-deserved century and KXIP reached 199 and set a target of 200 runs for KKR.
With eight straight victories and Robin Uthappa in great form, chasing 200 was not insurmountable for KKR even after Uthappa Unfortunately got out in the very first over. Gambhir and Manish Pandey, however, carried on with the firm focus on the required run-rate. When KKR reached 59/1 at the end of 6 overs, Gambhir departed. But Pandey had Yusuf Pathan for company. At the end of the 13th over, KKR were 128/2, requiring 72 runs in 42 balls. But Pathan fell in the 14th over after making 36 off 22 balls. Pandey was unperturbed and with support from the other end, he went on, while ensuring that the run-rate remained achievable. Suddenly KKR started losing wickets. Shakib Al Hasan was first to fall in the 16th over, Doeschate and Pandey departed in the 17th and Surya Yadav in 19th. KKR now required 13 off 10 balls with Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine at the crease. Now anything could have happened with Mitchell Johnson still having 4 balls in his over. Off the next three balls, Chawla and Narine could only manage 2. With 11 required off the next 7 balls, Chawla swung his bat to Johnson’s last ball and connected. The lofted shot landed over the ropes and the KKR victory looked imminent. 20th began with a dot from Parwinder Awana but Narine managed to run a single off the second ball. When Chawla faced Awana next, he probably didn’t want to prolong the proceedings any further. Therefore he sliced Awana’s full toss to the boundary and ran away in celebration with Narine in chase. All KKR team members converged where Chawla had fallen on the ground. It was all over with KKR winning the IPL for the second time in three years.
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