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Chennai Super Kings have been in four IPL finals, and they've batted first each time. The thread connecting the four games is Chennai's solid batting performance — particularly in the 2011 final when they decimated Bangalore on a slow pitch at the Chidambaram Stadium.
The title holders looked to repeat that template — post a big score, then asphyxiate the opposition with their three front-line spinners. Dhoni said that with the grass in the wicket, it was not expected to turn much. Chennai were unchanged while Kolkata Knight Riders brought in Manvinder Bisla in place of Brendon McCullum who sat out due to L Balaji's hamstring injury.
Chennai's Strong Start
Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay know when to turn it on. They had put last year's final beyond Chennai with a hell-raising 159 run stand. Here they had owned Kolkata's bowlers in the six overs of fielding restriction.
Shakib Al Hasan shared the new ball with Lee. The two bowled quiet opening overs of three runs each, before the Chennai batsman started cutting loose. Birthday boy Hussey walked down to Brett Lee, depositing him over long-off for a big six, right after Vijay had swung him over long-on in the same over.
Hussey swept Shakib both sides of the wicket for six and four. Sunil Narine's over of four runs restored the parity before Lee's over for 19 swung the scale back in Chennai's favour.
Shakib's Stunning Catch
Chennai were in total control [87-0 in the 11th], looking good for a 200+ score before Shakib's spectacular catch at midwicket dismissed Vijay. The right-handed opener swung Rajat Bhatia for what should have been an easy four on the bounce. Shakib charged to his left, running parallel to the rope to catch the ball with both hands. The pumped-up Bhatia sent the shocked Vijay on his way with a mouthful. In walked Suresh Raina, averaging 23 with no fifties in 18 innings in IPL5.
Lee, Narine Destroyed
The Australian pacer has lost his edge, and nothing illustrates the point better than how easily he gets hit for sixes these days. After the hits by Vijay and Hussey, Lee was smacked by Raina over midwicket, rounding off an expensive spell of 4-0-42-0. While one aging Australian has failed to deliver in the game, another one — Hussey — has cruised to a fifty, his second in as many IPL finals. Kolkata's best bowler of the tournament with 24 wickets, Narine was also punished — he went wicketless for 37 runs, his worst performance in IPL5.
Raina Delivers When It Matters
The short ball may work against Raina on the quick, bouncy wickets abroad. In India, it sits up asking to be clobbered. That's exactly what happened when Jacques Kallis bounced him early. Raina rocked back and smashed it in to the crowd over midwicket. Next, Yusuf Pathan suffered at his hands — two fours and a six. Raina's dominance today was underlined by his two sixes off Narine, easily the toughest bowler to hit in the tournament. Narine's last two overs went for 14 and 11, with Raina taking 22. He also picked two sixes off him, the second going 105 metres to the roof over deep midwicket. After his poor run in IPL5, Raina has delivered in the big game, underlining his worth as an IPL player.
Gambhir Knocked Over
Ben Hilfenhaus has a healthy habit of producing magical swing that knocks over top-order batsmen. The Chennai seamer had done in Delhi captain Virender Sehwag earlier in the tournament. In the final today, he dismissed Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir. It was a poor shot. Gambhir tried to work the ball across the line and missed it completely.
Bisla Starts The Party
Kolkata weren't moving anywhere after losing Gambhir cheaply. The required rate had mounted 10 when Bisla put Albie Morkel away for four fours in the fourth over. The over produced 20 runs, and injected momentum into Kolkata's chase.
Ashwin, Jakati Dismantled
An excellent spin attack has been key to Chennai's success at home. But Kallis and Bisla effective handling of Ashwin and Jakati put Kolkata on track for a win. Bisla smashed Ashwin for three sixes: two down the ground, one over extra-cover. At the other end, Kallis was punishing Jakati through the covers. The crowd supporting Chennai here had gone quiet.
Kallis Slows Up
The South African veteran had played bass to Bisla all evening, but needed to apply the finishing touches to Kolkata's chase. Laxmi Ratan Shukla had failed, Yusuf had signed off as the most expensive dud of IPL5, and the run-rate was mounting. Kallis smashed Bravo over extra-cover for four. Next ball, he slog-swept Bravo. Hussey caught him but went over the rope to give the six. Soon Kallis started cramping up and needed the physio's attention. He was struggling to run twos, struggling to find the boundaries, and was finally caught at the cover boundary off a full-toss from Hilfenhaus. The Chennai crowd came alive, sensing another title win.
The Costly No-Ball
Having conceded four from five balls, Hilfenhaus had done a great job in the penultimate over when Kolkata needed 20 from two overs. But the over ended badly. The Chennai pacer bowled a waist-high full toss to Shakib. The batsman stole two runs while Vijay prematurely celebrated the catch having ignored the umpire's call for no-ball. Hilfenhaus had to rebowl the finall delivery, which Shakib shovelled for a four over fine-leg to turn the game around.
Bravo's Slower Ones Go Wrong
Dwayne Bravo's slower deliveries had been easy meat for Kolkata's batsmen today. Sadly for Chennai, he persisted with them in the final over, with Kolkata needing seven off four. Manoj Tiwary spotted a short, slow one and dragged it through square leg for a vital four. The game was settled. The four off the next ball capped the win.