'This innings up there with the best'

It was an innings of great flair and substance, an intelligent compilation during the course of which he and Mike Hussey put on an IPL record 159 for the first wicket to help the defending champions retain their crown.

“To be honest, I had been batting really well and hitting the ball well,” said the man of the final, “so I was confident and didn’t really worry too much about not getting more runs earlier in the tournament. The only worry was that I was getting 30s and 40s and giving my wicket away. I was consciously thinking about it. Everybody in our team was performing well. I wanted to raise my hand and say this is going to be my day, I want to win it for you guys.

“Personally, I was missing out a lot of singles in the previous games because Hussey is more of a timer and I was trying to bat out of my skin,” Vijay remarked, referring to the frenzied early running between the wickets in the final. “I realised that personally, I could have run a lot of singles for myself as well as Hussey so that it would have helped the team’s cause and the momentum. I was working on it consciously and today I went out there and expressed myself.”

Vijay admitted to slight disappointment at missing out on a second IPL century, but said that disappointment was masked by the team’s triumph. “A bit disappointed now, but at that time, I was trying to hit the ball because the pitch was deteriorating and I thought a total of 220 might be a good score,” he offered. “You never know, when the opponent team has Gayle, anything can happen!

“But I am really happy for the effort and happy that the team has won. It has been an absolute team effort. I am really happy to be a part of this unit. This innings is up there with my best, it was a crucial match for us and a do-or-die situation.”

Off-spinner R Ashwin re-established his Twenty20 credentials with a symmetric 20 wickets from 16 matches, at the quite astonishing economy of 6.15, made more mind-boggling by the fact that he often bowled in the Power Plays.

“Ashwin has been really bowling well for the past few months on the domestic circuit and with the Indian team,” Vijay gushed.

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