IPL Winner 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders Prove India Still Rules T20 Cricket

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2014

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRCA - OCTOBER 21:  Manoj Tiwary of the Kolkata Knight Riders in action during the Champions league twenty20 match between CLT20 Kolkata Knight Riders v Nashua Titans at Sahara Park Newlands on October 21, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie / Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Saturday saw the final of the 2014 IPL season, and when the dust had settled, Kolkata Knight Riders (200/7) celebrated their second title in three seasons with a three-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab (199/4).

Both sides had their heroes after the match, with Wriddhiman Saha putting together a record-breaking performance for the losing team, as shared by Freddie Wilde:

His 115 runs from 55 balls were beyond impressive, but in the end, Kolkata were just too strong, greatly aided by 94 from 50 from Manish Pandey.

Youngster Akshar Patel stole the show bowling for Punjab, completing four overs with just 21 runs allowed. Manan Vohra scored 67 runs from 52 balls, combining with Saha to set a target of 200.

Yusuf Pathan and Gautam Gambir aided greatly in the middle overs of Kolkata's innings, and the final four came off Piyush Chawla's bat, sending his teammates into a frenzy as they celebrated their IPL 7 title.

All of those players were responsible for giving the fans one of the most exciting IPL finals we've ever seen. All are Indian.

What did Punjab's trio of lauded international players Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey add?

Three runs.

Or Kolkata's dangerous bowling duo of Morne Morkel and Sunil Narine? Eight overs, 86 runs. One wicket.

The 2014 IPL saw numerous great performances from international players, and no team rode its foreign stars more than Punjab. Maxwell led the charge early and was first in the IPL in runs scored for most of the season, ending the season ranked third with 552.

Dwayne Smith and David Warner also made the top five in scoring, with 566 and 528 respectively.

Narine will end the season with the second-most wickets taken and the fourth-best economy rate, but he failed to take a single wicket in the play-offs and gave up 76 runs in eight overs.

International players make the IPL fun. Colourful figures like Kieron Pollard draw fans to the stadiums, and as shared by Punjab's official Twitter account, Maxwell was voted as the tournament's Most Valuable Player:

Punjab built their squad around their three international stars, while teams like Mumbai Indians have relied heavily on international players like Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Corey Anderson.

All these overseas players have one thing in common: They didn't impact the IPL final like the domestic players did.

The fans and commentators felt it too. Kolkata's chase seemed to come under serious pressure twice: the dismissals of Robin Uthappa and Pathan. People hardly batted an eye when they lost Ryan ten Doeschate or Shakib Al Hasan.

Unlike Punjab or Mumbai, Kolkata built their team around strong, domestic talent, and it paid off in the end. The win seemed very much in doubt when their international spin bowlers couldn't live up to their lofty standards, but good, old-fashioned power-hitting saved the day.

India may have lost the T20 World Cup final to an in-form Sri Lanka team, but make no mistake about it: India still very much rules the short form of the sport.

All stats used are courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo.