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Goliaths beat Davids

Mumbai Indians' twin titles vindicated their strategy of chasing the big players, who proved too much for the less glittering names in Rajasthan Royals

Pravin Tambe was one of the unknowns who played a headlining role for Royals, taking 12 wickets and conceding only 4.10 runs  an over  •  BCCI

Pravin Tambe was one of the unknowns who played a headlining role for Royals, taking 12 wickets and conceding only 4.10 runs an over  •  BCCI

Mumbai Indians had begun their defense of 202 in the final with Sachin Tendulkar being given a guard of honour by his team-mates and it ended with him being chaired off the field by them. It was the perfect sign-off for the man to whom the entire Mumbai campaign was dedicated (#ThisTimeFor10dulkar) and who was retiring from short-form cricket after the game.
It was also a perfect ending to the second three-year cycle for Mumbai, who added the Champions League title to their IPL trophy. Mumbai were the most expensive IPL franchise when the league came into existence back in 2008, had the biggest name in Indian cricket as their icon, and have relentlessly done all it takes to reinforce their squad - sometimes even causing rule changes, such as the infamous five overseas players decision in 2010 which briefly earned them the nickname Mumbai Foreigners.
When Kieron Pollard became the hottest thing in T20s after the 2009 CLT20, Mumbai opened the cheque book to land him in a secret tiebreaker at the following auction. In 2010, after retaining four marquee names, they also splashed $2m to sign on the biggest star from their home city, and possibly the best batsman over six seasons of the IPL, Rohit Sharma.
When the 2011 campaign spluttered and part-timer Ambati Rayudu wasn't deemed good enough to be the regular wicketkeeper, in came the country's second-best Twenty20 wicketkeeper-batsman, Dinesh Karthik. It was a buy outside the auction and reportedly cost them $2.35m. In that failed 2011 campaign, the little-known Ali Murtuza was the team's second spinner, another department the management thought needed strengthening. Within 10 days of bringing in Karthik, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha - the leading wicket-taker in the 2010 season - was bought, again outside the auction.
And for the thorny problem of who to open with Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai chased every flavour-of-the-season opener - whether it was Davy Jacobs after his strong show at the 2010 Champions League or Richard Levi after he made his name with the quickest T20 international century in 2012, before settling on Dwayne Smith. In 2013, they spent a million on Glenn Maxwell and used him mainly for carrying drinks in the IPL, giving him just three games.
All of which meant that even without one of the world's premier T20 bowlers, Lasith Malinga, and benching Mitchell Johnson, they could field a side in the CLT20 final with ten internationals. Only the seamer Rishi Dhawan hasn't represented his country yet, and even he might not have got a look-in if Munaf Patel's bowling hadn't deteriorated badly over the last season.
Mumbai's cocktail of talent, temperament and experience proved too much for their opponents, the cash-strapped Rajasthan Royals. Without the finances to secure too many of the format's leading players, Royals have relied instead on clever cut-rate overseas buys, like James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper, and on scouting talented no-namers.
That made them everybody's favourite underdog team in the IPL, and has unearthed some of the most heart-warming narratives in the tournament. Two of their heroes in the final were 41-year-old legspinner Pravin Tambe, whose story is the stuff of screenplays, and 18-year-old Sanju Samson who served notice of his abilities with a series of clean hits that kept Royals alive despite starting the chase needing over 10 an over.
Royals also beat better-resourced opponents by making full use of the home advantage, winning all 13 matches this year on a pacy Jaipur surface, which generally hasn't lent itself to big scores - only one team reached 180 at the Sawai Mansingh stadium during the IPL season.
In every Royals press conference the talk is about the strong team spirit, and how the emphasis is on the team and not on big names. That spirit had to be reforged after the spot-fixing scandal rocked the side in the 2013 season, and left them without four of their players.
Despite overcoming that challenge, and producing exceptional performances from several wild-card picks, and their perfect home record, they couldn't complete the final step of their dream. Even as Tendulkar was carried off the field by jubilant team-mates, he was watched from the sidelines by a morose Rahul Dravid, who was also representing his IPL team for the final time.
This time the Goliaths of the IPL had beaten the Davids.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo