Vijay has rarely converted his starts this IPL and so what does he do on the day of the big finale? He hits a sparkling 95 and amasses a sizzling 159-run partnership with Michael Hussey to launch Chennai Super Kings to a match-winning total at the Chidambaram Stadium.
It was the ease with which the runs flowed and the calm manner in which they were accumulated that caught the eye. There were several big shots but nearly all of them were in conventional zones. There was just one bad shot in the first 14 overs. Just one. In the 10th over, Vijay had just played a nonchalant flick that sailed just over a lunging Luke Pomersbach on the deep midwicket boundary, when he tried to slog the next ball across the line and edged it to the leg side. The reaction of the players reflected that they were extremely aware of the need to keep the adrenalin in check: Vijay shadow practiced a straighter arc of the bat and Hussey rushed across to have a long chat.
For the entire duration of the partnership, which lasted 14.5 overs, they complemented each other with their contrasting approaches. Hussey punctuated his bunts, chips, drives with the occasional big hit - the highlight was a monstrous heave off Syed Mohammad that crashed into the roof beyond wide long-on. Vijay went the other way. He punctuated his flamboyant on-the-up hits with quieter punches for singles and twos. They both ran between the wickets hard and fast and the scoring-rate never slackened. Vijay grew increasingly tired but it was Hussey who fell first, swatting a full toss from Mohammad to long-on. By then, they had laid a great platform.
It had been Vijay who started the mayhem in the final delivery of the second over with a special shot. It was a short-of-length delivery with little room for maneuvering, or so it seemed, but Vijay wafted it on the up and through the line for a flamboyant six over long-on. Hussey pulled the next delivery, from Zaheer Khan, over backward square-leg boundary to launch the assault. They repeated that double-dose of sixes again. Hussey swung the final delivery of the fifth over, bowled by Mohammad, over midwicket boundary and Vijay lifted the next ball, from Chris Gayle, over long-on. Chennai reached 56 for 0 in six overs and just kept going from strength to strength.