After 55 days of nonstop cricket action between nine world class teams across 76 thrilling matches, it was the Kolkata Knight Riders who were crowned champions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on 27 May, 2012. They beat the defending champion Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in one of this season's most exciting matches.
Similar to what the Delhi Daredevils did in their last match against the Super Kings, Kolkata had to alter their lineup with three changes because of an injury to Lakshmipathy Balaji. But unlike the Daredevils, whose decision backfired, the Knight Riders benefited from the changes as Manvinder Bisla, who replaced Brendon McCullum in the team, played a blinder of an innings to take his team to the top.
Super Kings captain MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first in a good batting track. With the help of some brilliant batting display from Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina, the Super Kings posted 190, the second highest score in all IPL finals.
Super Kings openers Vijay and Hussey gave their team a strong start just like they did in their last match against Delhi. The partnership of 87 runs was broken by a superb catch from Shakib Al Hasan of the bowling of Rajat Bhatia.
But the breakthrough couldn't stop the flow of runs as Hussey was joined by Suresh Raina, and they both consolidated the innings with attacking shots and witty singles. Even the magical Sunil Narine was unable to contain the batsmen and went for more than nine runs an over.
Hussey completed his second 50 plus score of the tournament just before being dismissed with a length ball by Jacque Kallis. Raina, along with Dhoni, steered his side for the rest of overs to a strong total and was dismissed of the last ball at 73.
Given a target of 191 to chase for achieving their first IPL triumph, Kolkata was jolted early when their captain and most prolific batsman Gautam Gambhir was clean bowled in the first over of the game. In came Bisla, who along with Kallis started a surprise counter attack and took the attack to opposition.
Bisla was the dominant one in the partnership as he scored 88 of the 136 runs. The youngster played excellent innings under pressure. He shifted the momentum of the match in the fourth over of the innings when he hit Albie Morkel for four boundaries, three of them consecutive of the last three deliveries of the over.
In the sixth over of the innings Bisla drilled Ravichandran Ashwin for two sixes, one effortless hit over the bowlers head and the other an excellent shot over long on. Bisla was lucky on the next delivery as he was dropped at short fine leg by Hilfenhaus of a difficult chance.
Kallis also complemented Bisla with some good shorts around the ground and kept rotating the strike. Bisla’s match-winning innings ended in the 15th over when he was caught at point by Badrinath of the bowling of Morkel. But up to that point he had scored 89 runs of just 48 balls at a staggering strike rate of 185.41, and brought his team within a sniffing distance of victory against the powerful Super Kings lineup.
Kallis kept his team in the check of the run as a couple of quick wickets fell in the form of Laxmi Ratan Shukla and out of form Yusuf Pathan. Kallis couldn’t take his team home, though, and was dismissed on 69 in the 18th over by Hilfenhaus with Kolkata still needing 16 runs of seven deliveries.
Super Kings were still in the match and some tight deliveries could have done the trick for them, but what followed was a no ball from Hilfenhaus and a four of the free-hit that resulted from it. With nine needed of the final six deliveries, Manoj Tiwari finished the game with two consecutive fours of bravo in the third and fourth deliveries of the over.
It was a fitting end to a satisfying season for Kolkata Knight Riders in which they performed the best and played a lot better than all the teams.
The excitement and happiness were quite noticeable on the face of their rejuvenated team owner Shahrukh Khan. Kolkata’s Bisla was awarded the Man of the Match for his fantastic innings while Narine who claimed 24 wickets in 15 matches at an amazing economy of 5.47 was awarded the golden player of league for his outstanding bowling efforts throughout the league.
Kings XI Punjab's batsman Mandeep Singh, who scored 432 runs in 16 games at an strike rate of 126.31, was fittingly awarded the Rising Star of the League.
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