Unexpected individual brilliance crowns KKR

Erratic bowling led to CSK's downfall against an all-round Knight Riders outfit in the IPL-5 final.

By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar
Chennai Super Kings 190/3; Kolkata Knight Riders 192/5
(Kolkata Knight Riders won by 5 wickets)
The scorecard of the match is here.

L Balaji was part of the CSK team when they won their first IPL in 2010 and then the Champions Trophy later that year. On Sunday, he helped KKR win their first IPL – by getting injured and not playing.

This is by no means an indictment of Balaji the bowler, who would have been an asset for KKR in this match. But just a recognition of the sequence of events that put Manwinder Bisla in the starting XI. Brett Lee was drafted in Balaji’s place, so McCullum had to go out to maintain the foreign players’ balance – which put Bisla in as wicketkeeper.

Despite KKR’s outstanding consistency right through the tournament, they had one problem that threatened to waylay them at some point. As a team of primarily all-rounders, and the considerable dependence they had on Gambhir with the bat, they were always likely to miss the X-factor that specialist talent brings in a big match situation, in a leading role (as opposed to playing a support role). It is always iffy to rely on all-rounders to deliver that consistently in one specialist role.

This X-factor performance is what Bisla delivered in the final, completely out of the blue, and won the match almost single-handedly for his team. Kallis played a very significant support role, but without Bisla’s propulsion at the top, under difficult circumstances, KKR would have been behind the eight ball for too long for any support role to be rendered meaningful. Shakib Al Hasan and Manoj Tiwary played with heart near the end, but if you look at it closely, they really only did their job, given the circumstances. If they had not managed to take KKR home from that position, it would have been a palpable failure on their part.

CSK had one weak spot that they needed to guard against, and that was their bowling (given how low impact it was, as pointed out here. They needed to be disciplined (as they had been in the two playoff games) but sadly, their looseness harked back to the league phases when they were erratic. Only Hilfenhaus showed control, and he too lost it in his last over, as full-tosses were offered repeatedly. It is in this department that CSK lost the game.

Here is the match through the Impact Index prism.


27-year-old Manvinder Bisla was the highest impact player and also the highest impact batsman in the match (89 off 48 balls; IMPACT 7.67). This was the first big match/ tournament defining performance in his T20 career and also the highest impact performance in his entire career. This was some timing. Before IPL 2012, Bisla’s T20 Batting IMPACT was 1.31 in 35 matches with a 54% failure-rate. His IPL Batting IMPACT was a mere 1.16 in 15 matches. But in IPL 2012, he already had a Batting IMPACT of 1.84 in 6 matches before this final. The signs of a highly improved player were there – this performance will hopefully take him to the next level.

Despite so many all-rounders in both sides, Jacques Kallis delivered the only all-round performance in the match (1-34 in 4 overs, IMPACT 1.63; 69 off 49 balls; IMPACT 5.17) – the second T20 tournament-defining performance of his career. His IPL 2012 IMPACT of 3.01 has even topped his formidable T20 Career IMPACT of 2.64. He has been one of the rocks for KKR this season.

Bisla and Kallis were actually also the only players to absorb pressure in the match (of falling wickets; their Pressure IMPACT was 0.57 apiece), as Gambhir was out with the score at 3. It turned out to be the most crucial partnership of the match (136 in 82 balls), of course.

Gautam Gambhir ended as the second-highest impact batsman in IPL 2012 (after you-know-who) and Sunil Narine ended as the highest impact bowler of the tournament. Both failed comprehensively in this match, failing to register an IMPACT of 1.

It is interesting that CSK had 4 performances over an IMPACT of 2 in the match, whereas KKR had just 3. And that KKR had 2 players who registered zero impact (Shukla and Pathan) whereas CSK had no such player (though Jakati came close). CSK also lost 3 wickets while KKR lost 5. All this further underlines how much of an individual effort Bisla’s effort was in the final (with just one superb support performance, from Kallis). They got their X-factor player at just the right time – from quite an unlikely source.

Equally interestingly, the highest impact bowling performance in the match actually came from CSK – from Ben Hilfenhaus (2-25 in 4 overs; IMPACT 4.04) – he was actually the only bowler from both sides to register an IMPACT of over 2 in the match. And yet, those full-tosses in his last over (and the game’s second-last) played a big part in the match entirely slipping away from his team’s grasp, especially as 16 runs required in 7 balls transformed to 9 runs in 6.

For CSK, Suresh Raina was the highest impact player in the match. His batting performance (73 off 38 balls; IMPACT 5.17) looked like it had turned the match decisively for CSK at half-time. Interestingly, Kallis registered exactly the same Batting IMPACT as him while making 69 off 49 for KKR in the second innings. While Raina registered considerable Strike Rate IMPACT, Kallis’ impact for absorbing pressure and chasing the target down brought him at parity with Raina – an interesting insight that makes the impact of Kallis’ partnership with Bisla even clearer.

Due to CSK having their team’s impact spread over more players than KKR, and other quirks (such as losing 3 wickets to KKR’s 5, and having more high impact players than KKR in the match), a mathematical oddity of CSK registering a higher Team IMPACT (1.57 to KKR’s 1.41) ensues. But this also gives an indication that CSK should have won this game even on this day’s performance but were denied because of an outstanding individual brilliance. And it came from the team that was more likely to scrap as a team than produce individual brilliance (other than Gambhir or Narine). From a player who produced the highest impact T20 performance of his life, by a mile.

The delightful uncertainty of sport prevailed … but equally, consistency was rightly rewarded, and a worthy champion crowned.

For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com.

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