Super Kings reign supreme again

Vijay, Hussey share record opening stand as Chennai beat Bangalore challenge to emerge champions

Super Kings reign supreme again

A sea of yellow that cram­med into the swank venue got its money’s worth as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men zealously defended the Indian Premier League crown they had won last year, crushing a feeble challenge from the Bangalore side by a commanding 58-run margin in the final of IPL IV.

The admirable opening pair of Mike Hussey (63, 45b, 3x4, 3x6) and Murali Vijay (95, 52b, 4x4, 6x6), a combination of opposites that works wonderfully well in tandem, effectively made the title clash one-way traffic with the highest opening stand in IPL history.

Their 159-run (89b) association after Dhoni won the toss and promptly opted to bat on a surface that helped the spinners as the evening wore on formed the cornerstone ar­ound which the holders erected a mammoth 205 for five.

Even had Chris Gayle fired on all cylinders, the Challengers would have been hard pressed to scale that total down. Instead, the Jamaican was outwitted in the very first over of the chase, succumbing to the guile of R Ashwin for a third-ball duck.

The Challengers then totally lost their way, tied up in knots by the plethora of tweakers in the Chennai ranks with Ashwin predictably in the forefront, and limped to a sub-par 147 for eight to complete one of their worst performances of an otherwise fruitful season on the most important day of the IPL calendar.

The Super Kings thus rounded off a perfect eight out of eight record at the Chidambaram stadium this year. Clearly, they had saved their best for last. Vijay, supremely inconsistent this season, couldn’t have chosen a better occasion to rediscover peak touch, while the phlegmatic Hussey was happy to play second fiddle to his younger partner, who repeatedly mocked the length of the boundaries with one sensational blow after another.

As if in thanksgiving for their skipper winning a crucial toss, Hussey and Vijay came hard at the Challengers. Initially, it wasn’t about the big blows, but through frenetic, occasionally frenzied, running between the wickets that tested the nerve and character of the Bangalore outriders. Once they elicited mistakes galore through misfields and overthrows, they turned their attention to the bowlers, who all provided so many freebies that skipper Daniel Vettori was hard pressed for options.

Only Zaheer Khan responded to the lashing with aplomb; the rest buckled under the sustained onslaught, bowling to Vijay’s strengths as he freed his arms and repeatedly deposited the ball way over the long-on fence with minimum fuss and outstanding results.

Hussey was more industrious than flamboyant, and while both batsmen struggled hugely physically on a humid, muggy evening, it didn’t put the brakes either on brilliant running between the wickets or incandescent strokeplay. Eventually, it was the fatigue that accounted for the duo, Vijay tantalisingly short of a second IPL century. The finish wasn’t as explosive, but the Super Kings had more than enough on the board.

The stadium roof almost came down in the first over of the Challengers’ chase when Ashwin beautifully set up, and evicted, the effervescent Gayle. Two ripping off-breaks that turned a mile and bounced considerably planted seeds of doubt in the left-hander. The third ball was pushed through faster, and closer to the batsman. Gayle shaped for the cut, found the ball rushing on and only managed an edge that nestled in Dhoni’s gloves. Game over, almost!

Ashwin was all over the Challengers like a bad rash, but more crucially, the fight seemed to go out of the league winners with Gayle’s dismissal. Virat Kohli played a good hand but with Shadab Jakati backing up Ashwin beautifully, the match was over as a contest long before the final delivery was bowled.

Scoreboard

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: Mike Hussey c Mithun b Mohammad 63 (45b, 3x4, 3x6), Murali Vijay c Vettori b Arvind 95 (52b, 4x4, 6x6), Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Kohli b Arvind 22 (13b, 2x6), Suresh Raina b Gayle 8 (5b, 1x6), Albie Morkel c Kohli b Gayle 2 (4b), S Badrinath (not out) 0 (0b), Dwayne Bravo (not out) 6 (1b, 1x6). Extras (LB-7, W-2) 9. Total (for 5 wkts, 20 overs) 205.
Fall of wickets: 1-159 (Hussey), 2-188 (Vijay), 3-188 (Dhoni), 4-199 (Morkel), 5-199 (Raina).
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 4-0-30-0, S Arvind 3-0-39-2 (w-2), Chris Gayle 4-0-34-2, Syed Mohammad 3-0-39-1, Daniel Vettori 4-0-34-0, Abhimanyu Mithun 2-0-22-0.
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 48/0; 10: 94/0; 15: 161/1; end of innings: 205/5 in 20 overs.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 56/0.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE: Mayank Agarwal b Ashwin 10 (5b, 2x4), Chris Gayle c Dhoni b Ashwin 0 (3b), Virat Kohli lbw Raina 35 (33b, 1x4, 1x6), AB de Villiers lbw Jakati 18 (12b, 3x4), Luke Pomersbach c & b Jakati 2 (3b), Saurabh Tiwary (not out) 42 (34b, 1x4, 3x6), Daniel Vettori c & b Ashwin 0 (1b), Abhimanyu Mithun c Bollinger b Bravo 11 (8b, 2x4), Zaheer Khan c Hussey b Bollinger 21 (21b, 2x4), Syed Mohammad (not out) 2 (2b). Extras (B-2, LB-2, W-1, NB-1) 6. Total (for 8 wkts, 20 overs) 147.
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Gayle), 2-16 (Agarwal), 3-48 (de Villiers), 4-62 (Pomersbach), 5-69 (Kohli), 6-70 (Vettori), 7-92 (Mithun), 8-130 (Zaheer).
Bowling: R Ashwin 4-0-16-3, Albie Morkel 3-0-24-0, Doug Bollinger 3-0-28-1 (w-1), Shadab Jakati 4-0-21-2 (nb-1), Suresh Raina 4-0-39-1, Dwayne Bravo 2-0-15-1.
Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 38/2; 10: 69/5; end of innings: 147/8 in 20 overs.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 47/2.

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