IPL final: Where nobodies became stars and the thrilling was normal

Sorry Shah Rukh, no one saw this coming. And it’s rather hard to believe that you did.

After the dust had settled on Kolkata Knight Riders’ second Indian Premier League in three years and long after the crowd had filtered out of the stadium, Shah Rukh Khan – owner of Kolkata Knight Riders – came on air and said that he told his daughters in the morning that Manish Pandey is going to win KKR the match.

Now, either he channeled the spirit of Nostradamus or he really knows how to read the signs because this was a match of the unexpected… a match where the big stars failed, and the role players all came to the party; a match where surprise was the new normal.

Of course, nothing was more unexpected than watching Pandey’s blistering innings of 94 off 50 balls in the final. In the lead-up to the final, the right-hander had scored 307 runs in the tournament with just one fifty. To put things in perspective, Robin Uthappa had over 650 after playing the same number of matches. His strike-rate this IPL was 105, the lowest of all batsmen with 150+ runs.

 IPL final: Where nobodies became stars and the thrilling was normal

KKR lift their second trophy in three years. BCCI

But Pandey just decided that he was going to leave his mark on the IPL final with some blistering strokeplay. The Kings XI Punjab bowlers had no answer to him because they probably prepared better for the other big-hitters in the line-up. His fearless approach was especially evident each time a wicket fell. When Gambhir was dismissed, the batsmen crossed over and Pandey’s response to the wicket was to hit the next ball for a six. He did the same when Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate were dismissed as well. It never allowed KXIP to relax and it perhaps unexpectedly worked each time.

However, even before we could get to Pandey, the KXIP innings had all been the Saha show. The unheralded wicket-keeper batsman was sent up the order – ahead of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller. Ahead of the skipper George Bailey too. And at the 10 over mark, it seemed like they had got it horribly wrong – they had just 58 runs on board.

But at that point, something ticked Saha off and he simply went berserk. At the 10-over mark, Saha had 15 off 16 balls. By the time the innings ended, the wicketkeeper batsman had hammered 115 off 55 balls and KXIP had added a further 141 runs to their total. It was a stunning reversal of fortunes. And once again it was unexpected.

Then again, there was the sight of Sunil Narine getting hammered. He conceded 46 runs in his four overs, which equals the most runs he has ever conceded in a T20 match. And the man to take him apart was once again Saha, who faced 18 balls and scored 35 runs against the KKR ace.

As the match was going down to the wire, Piyush Chawla was facing up to the most feared fast bowler in the world – Mitchell Johnson. The Aussie had been firing in the yorkers and was proving to be hard to get away – then he dropped one in short and Chawla pulled it away for six over the deep backward square leg boundary.

It was the last ball of the 19th over and it all but decided the game. Going into the last over, KKR needed just 5 runs to win the match. Chawla, against the odds, had won it for them.

The big guns all failed but in the end, it was a match worthy of being a final. There was no Chennai, no Mumbai, no Bangalore in it. But in a sense, this is what the IPL is all about – everyone has a chance to shine; just about everyone.

But after all those unexpected thrills, one could count on Ravi Shastri to restore the balance. After Aditya Tare had hit the six off the last ball to give the Mumbai Indians a sensational win over the Rajasthan Royals in the last group game, the commentator had promptly screamed out Ambati Rayudu’s name instead.

And yesterday, in the post match ceremony, Shastri said: “Both teams played splendid cricket but NO team deserved to win.”

It was an expected end to one of the most thrilling and unexpected matches in IPL 7. But in the end, cricket was the winner and no one was complaining.

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Updated Date: Jun 02, 2014 10:26:03 IST