R Ashwin, who took three wickets for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL final, said taking pace off the ball was the key to dismissing Chris Gayle in the first over of Royal Challengers Bangalore's chase.
"He [Gayle] has been batting really well this year and has been extremely selective in his strokes, which to me was the real difference," Ashwin told the Hindustan Times. "My plan was not to give him any pace as everybody knows what Gayle can do with it. Lack of pace meant that he had to use his feet and mind."
Gayle was the leading run-getter in this IPL and single-handedly transformed Bangalore's fortunes in the tournament. But Ashwin, who had dismissed Gayle for eight in the first qualifier in Mumbai, said that he was always confident of getting him out. "You can't plan against someone like Gayle. If you think too much about him, you can get defensive. I was confident that I can get him and I did.
"I knew he won't step out to me at all. I had in mind that at Wankhede he had pulled me for a six. The plan was made in Bangalore that I'd spin a few past him and then slip in an arm ball to get him out lbw or bowled. But on Saturday it spun and bounced and I think Gayle was a little late for his shot."
Ashwin, who was often used used by his Chennai captain MS Dhoni, to bowl with the new ball, admitted he "liked" bowling early on in the match. "I like bowling with a new ball. Secondly, I bowl in the nets with it as well. I just like the feel of it, the seam and lacquer helps it to skid off the wicket."
Ashwin ended the tournament as the highest wicket-taker for Chennai with 20 wickets and said that having Dhoni as a wicketkeeper had helped his bowling. "I rely a lot on the bounce, therefore a good wicketkeeper is extremely crucial," he said. "With Dhoni, the caught-behinds and stumpings have gone up many notches in my bowling. He understands the trajectory, the variation and the bounce that I get."
Chennai's victory, however, was set up by their batsmen, with a 159-run opening stand between M Vijay and Michael Hussey propelling them towards a total of 205. Vijay, who was declared Man of the Match for his 95 off 52 balls, said that his focus had been to ensure he picked up as many singles as possible. "I was missing a lot of singles in the previous matches," he said. "I was getting starts but not carrying on. So I worked consciously on running better, helping Hussey get the singles and rotating the strike."
Vijay said that the fact that Chennai had retained the nucleus of the side in the 2011 auction helped in the team's success. "There are a lot of known faces around since Chennai retained four players and bought back the core group of the squad during the auction, " Vijay told the Indian express. "Everyone knows what is expected and knows each others' game well. It has helped that MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming have been working together for a while. The sense of familiarity has put players in a comfort zone and brings the best out of them."
"There are a lot of quality players in this squad, those who have played Tests and ODIs for their countries. Since they are international stars they know what needs to be done to ensure that the winning momentum is carried forward from one game to another. "