The third edition of the Indian Premier League, back in India after a year’s hiatus, is perhaps the most dramatic of all the five events held so far. It made as much news for the brand of cricket on the field as for some unsavoury incidents off it.
Looked upon as the most dynamic sports administrator for masterminding a money-spinning T20 league not too long ago, the season’s finale also coincided with the ostracising of Lalit Modi from both the BCCI and the IPL. Before Modi’s dramatic ouster following his twitter fight with the then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, two low-intensity bombs went off at the M Chinnaswamy stadium forcing the organisers to shift the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s semifinal to Mumbai.
This was also the most closely-fought edition where four teams finished on 14 points behind Mumbai Indians (20) and Deccan Chargers (14), only the marginally better run-rates steering Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings into semifinals. Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, who also had 14 points each, had to miss out on last-four berths.
The semifinals were rather one-sided affairs with hosts Mumbai and Super Kings registering comfortable wins. While Mumbai drubbed Bangalore by 35-runs, Super Kings inflicted a 38-run defeat on Chargers in a low-scoring match. Later Bangalore beat Chargers in the third-place play-off to make the Champions League T20.
The final between Super Kings and Mumbai was expected to be a blockbuster and it lived up to the expectations. Two well-balanced sides, which had taken contrasting ways to reach the summit clash, dished out thoroughly entertaining cricket at the end of which the screaming thousands at the Wankhede were left heart-broken. Two years after they had lost the final in the same city, Super Kings made up for their failure with a 22-run victory.
The margin of victory can be misleading because until the big-hitting Kieron Pollard (27 off 10, 3x4, 2x6) fell in the last ball of the penultimate over, caught by Albie Morkel at almost straight mid-off, Mumbai were the favourites to win the contest. Having made the knockouts on the back of six wins in the last seven games, Super Kings went on to dominate the T20 league winning the next (2011) and reaching the final of the previous edition.
Brief scores (final): Chennai Super Kings: 168/5 in 20 overs (M Vijay 26, Suresh Raina 57 n.o.; Dilhara Fernando 2-23) bt Mumbai Indians: 146/9 in 20 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 48, Abhishek Nayar 27, Kieron Pollard 27; Shadab Jakati 2/26).