Kolkata take title after Bisla blitz
Kolkata Knight Riders 192 for 5 (Bisla 89, Kallis 69) beat Chennai Super Kings 190 for 3 (Raina 73, Hussey 54, Vijay 42) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
There was a galaxy of former Indian cricketers in attendance, the brightest lights from Bollywood were in the stands, both teams had some of the biggest stars in the world game but the headlining performance came from little-known Manvinder Bisla as Kolkata Knight Riders prised the IPL trophy out of Chennai Super Kings' hands. Bisla, who was without a Ranji Trophy side last season, made a mockery of his previous career Twenty20 strike-rate of 106 to play a jack-in-the-box innings that helped overhaul what had seemed a mountainous Super Kings total.
The title looked headed Super Kings' way for the third year in a row, when for the third match in a row a seemingly out of form Super Kings batsman played a blinder - this time it was Suresh Raina - and the rock of Knight Riders' batting Gautam Gambhir was bowled in the first over.
All that changed when Bisla intervened. Virtually every ball he faced, he either jumped beyond leg to make room or danced down the track to get close to the pitch of the ball as he unleashed a series of lofted extra cover drives to dent Super Kings. The first signs of trouble for the defending champions was when Bisla crashed Albie Morkel for four off-side fours in the fourth over to kickstart Knight Riders's innings.
The experienced Jacques Kallis stroked the singles to allow Bisla most of the strike, and Bisla, getting a game ahead of the regular wicketkeeper-batsman Brendon McCullum, showed no signs of the pressure of a big occasion getting to him. A slower one from Dwayne Bravo was dispatched for six in the next over, and R Ashwin, who has played a leading role in Super Kings' successes over the past three seasons, was hit over his head for a couple of classy sixes. After half an hour of Bisla's pyrotechnics, Knight Riders were the team in charge and even the usually unfazed MS Dhoni was giving a heated lecture to his team during the time-out.
A century seemed for the taking for Bisla, but he was undone by Morkel's slower one, holing out to point for 89. Kallis then switched from watchful to wallop. The decision to promote Laxmi Shukla to No. 4 failed, but Kallis played one of the shots of the match, a perfectly placed lofted drive that bisected extra cover and long-off for four. That was followed by a heart-in-the-mouth moment as Kallis swung the ball towards deep midwicket where Michael Hussey held on to a tough catch but couldn't prevent himself from going over the rope.
Yusuf Pathan's horrendous 2012 season then came to a fitting end as he top-edged a sweep to be dismissed for 1. Ben Hilfenhaus, who took out Gambhir early and bowled a probing spell with the new ball, returned for his final over in the 19th and he injected more excitement into the game by getting a cramping Kallis to slice a catch to sweeper cover. Hilfenhaus undid that by bowling a full toss that was no-balled for height and following up with another full toss that was nervelessly scooped for four by Shakib Al Hasan.
The tournament entered its final over with Knight Riders needing nine. There were just two singles off the first two balls, including some panicky running, but Manoj Tiwary ended the five-season wait for a trophy with two boundaries behind square leg to spark scenes of wild celebrations.
It was the Chennai crowd that was celebrating for the first half of the game. M Vijay and Michael Hussey left people wondering whether Knight Riders had made a miscalculation by bringing in an ineffective Brett Lee for the final. Vijay and Hussey added 87 in the first half of the innings, raising visions of their 159-run opening stand that destroyed Royal Challengers Bangalore in last season's final.
Then Raina took over, playing his best innings of the season. Weak against the short ball? Raina's first boundary was a powerfully pulled six over midwicket off Kallis. The mystery of Sunil Narine? Raina slog-swept into the stands and later deposited the ball near the sightscreen as Narine was handed his most expensive figures of the tournament.
Despite the pounding from Super Kings, Knight Riders didn't fade in the field like Delhi Daredevils had two days ago. Their first breakthrough came courtesy an outstanding catch from Shakib in the deep, and there were plenty of dives in the outfield to prevent extra runs. The same never-say-die spirit carried them when they came out to bat as well.
Knight Riders showed why they had lost only two of their previous 12 matches, and also that they could win even if their star performers Gambhir and Narine had off days. In the reams of articles in the build-up to the final, there had been plenty written about those two, but virtually no one spoke about Bisla. "Manvinder Bisla who?" is not likely to be a question asked too often after this game, particularly in Kolkata, as a title finally arrived after five drama-filled seasons.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo