Kolkata v Chennai, IPL 2012, final, Chennai May 27, 2012

We did it for Balaji - Gambhir

ESPNcricinfo staff

Manvinder Bisla, who had played one IPL game in the last month, played the final only because Kolkata Knight Riders were forced to rejig their combination, after L Balaji failed to recover from a hamstring injury. To accommodate a second fast bowler in Brett Lee, Brendon McCullum sat out, and Bisla was brought in to keep wicket and open the batting. He went on to score a career-best 89 off 48 balls, "one of the best Twenty20 innings" Gautam Gambhir had seen, and led Knight Riders to their maiden IPL title in their fifth attempt.

Chasing 191 on Chennai's home turf, Knight Riders were in early trouble when Gambhir fell in the first over. Bisla, however, began to ease the pressure immediately and did not stop. "It was one of the best Twenty20 innings I've seen," Gambhir said after the game. "Especially under pressure [against the] defending champions in their backyard, in conditions that suit them, getting 90 odd in 40 off balls shows his character."

Before the final, Bisla had played only six matches this season. He had begun with 46 but was dropped after his form tapered off and Knight Riders were tinkering to find their preferred combination. Today his selection was forced and he put on 136 runs with Jacques Kallis in 13.4 overs.

"I don't think I have hit as well, good to play this in the finals to help win it for my team," a composed Bisla said as victory celebrations broke out around him. "There was no plan, wanted to go out there to enjoy after Gambhir got out. I felt a little tense but after getting one or two to the fence, I got the confidence. Kallis is a legend, batting along side him was a great opportunity, he asked me to keep it simple and get going."

Through the tournament Knight Riders relied on Gambhir to lead the batting and on Sunil Narine to spearhead the bowling. Today they were forced to find other performers after Narine went for 0 for 37, his most expensive IPL figures, and Gambhir fell for 2.

"It was a team effort, a captain is only as good as his team, this has been my stand throughout," Gambhir said. "A successful team makes a captain, a successful captain doesn't make a team. I always said, if we play to potential, we can't be beaten. There were a lot of questions asked about the middle order not clicking. I always had a strong belief that it would click at the right time."

At the post-match press conference, Gambhir said the late cameos from Manoj Tiwary and Shakib Al Hasan played a critical role. "It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. Those cameos from Manoj and Shakib won the game for us."

Among the people most relieved with his team's win, Gambhir said, was the co-owner Shah Rukh Khan. "He's been a great owner. Not even once in this entire tournament has he put any pressure on the team, and he hasn't interfered in any of the cricketing matters. That's the kind of owner you want."

Gambhir also had praise for Balaji, who was a vital cog in their bowling attack, taking 11 wickets in eight games with an economy of 5.40, before missing the final. "Bala is the unsung hero, he's been brilliant all through. We were playing for him. Missing such an important game in front of his home crowd was always disappointing, but it was very satisfying winning it for him.

"Only one word comes to mind, mission accomplished."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 30, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    Gambhir is a no-nonsense cricketer. It is a great gesture by him to mention Balaji in the post match speak. Unlike Dhoni, I thought those words more came from the heart.

  • Praveen on May 29, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    I am feeling excited to watch Bisla again play good knocks and come into Indian ODI team soon as opening batsman and also as Bisla is keeper he can help Dhoni at times if Dhoni feels overloaded with work; and moreover Bisla is looking like a real team player, even if he don't keep wickets it's ok..just as opener he is perfect for opening, should be selected for T20 starting in Srilanka. Gambhir should be replaced with Bisla .Bisla as a opener i feel can replace Gambhir quite easily. I am not saying based on this single performance. I am just saying looking at Bisla attitude and Character which is far good than Gambhir and Sehwag... Hope selection committee is looking this message and sack Gambhir to replace with Bisla, believe me it's best choice and not risk.Selection committee select Bisla. Dhoni, please push Bisla for selection ahead of Gambhir in T20 world cup.Gambhir is arrogant too. And also try a replacement for Sehwag soon, Sehwag's attitude is costing team a lot.

  • Jay on May 28, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Congratulations to KKR. But the arrogance in the KKR dressing room was evident for all to see. There was no HUMBLENESS in victory. Shame on KKR and their owner SRK who thinks cricket is a bollywood movie. CSK to me will always be a champion team simply cause they are lead by the MASTER of CAPTAINS and a true gentleman in MS Dhoni. It's sad to see how so many Indians forget the contributions of Dhoni to make India world champions in T20 and 50 over world cups. Plus Dhoni is the captain of 2 time IPL champions CSK and Champions League winner. Gautam has MILES to go before he can even think of becoming like Dhoni.

  • Alex on May 28, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    congrats to KKR. Good players makes a captain. Partially true. You still need decent captain. A captain like sehwag makes stragic and tactical error won't make good captain even if he had all stars playing under him. There is a reason DD has long tail for past 5 seasons. Team plays like their captain and did n't care. if captain cares , players care. Bisla won the game for KKR. 190 is too tough to score unless someone clicks big time. That too first wicket falls way early and bisla kept them in game. And Bad luck on last ball of penultimate over cost CSK the cup. 16 in last over impossible for Tiwary and sakib to make.

  • Samira on May 28, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    The last ball of the 19th over in the KKR innings turned this match around. That was indeed a nerveless shot by Shakib Al Hasan.

  • Gaurav on May 28, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Great IPL win for KKR ! One thing though, what's this team game, and not individual game theory of Gautam Gambhir all about. The only thing in any interview regardless of the question he says is it is a team game and individuals do not matter, Captain is as good a s his team and not the vice versa ?? On the other he contradicted himself by saying he won the final for balaji. why dedictaing a 18 match tournament to one injured player. In due respect to balaji ( he is a good player), isnt this belittling the effort of the entire team which by the way are composed of individuals??? And now y dedicate the win to only one player? where is the team?

  • P Subramani on May 28, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    Gautam Gambhir is ready for the captaincy in probably all formats of the game since he has the game for all three.That is of course if Dhoni is keen on stepping down.In fact he has a good rcord of captaining India in ODIs I think.Apart from that observation,I think it is time that wickets be made to make it equal between bat and ball. As a long time cricket watcher,I must say that I found the final quite boring and one dimensional.This is something they should ensure in the next edition of the IPL.Cricket will be the gainer if we can have sporting wickets for all games without any exception.Much as well as Bisla and others played, I cannot think of any bowler who really made a mark.Not even Hilfenhaus with his fast swing.I am not sure how much Rajiv Shukla himself really knows about cricket but he has a cricket committee to turn to for advice.This IPL was much better than the earlier ones in terms of cricket.It is in his powers to make the IPL a brand synonymous with quality in cricket

  • Hayat on May 28, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    If somebody had said before the match begun, that the match at Chennai, would be won by a team chasing a mammoth total, and none of the usual suspects from either of the starting XIs would get the man of the match, the predictor would have been laughed at. But this is what happened! Amazing, and glorious are the uncertainities of cricket, as they say!

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    narine, balaji n gambhir who took to the final then bisla's blast innings took the trophy

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Congrats Gambir & Team, You deserve the win , hope to see you as captain of Indian team. Gambir & Rahul Dravid are the genuine captains of all forms of cricket (T20, ODI & Test Match). Gambir is aggressive and Dravid is more of a Mentor. Cheers...

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