An ironic finish to proceedings
ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the IPL final between Bangalore and Chennai
It took Chennai 7.5 overs to produce their first four of the day. It was a problem that had bogged them down in the league stage as well, especially in the matches against Kolkata and Bangalore. Unlike in those games, though, the four-drought did not bog down their run-rate tonight, as four sixes and innumerable well-run couples meant they were motoring along at well over eight an over when that first four came.
Whatever M Vijay did, Michael Hussey tried to better, and vice versa. Vijay swung S Aravind majestically over midwicket off the last ball of the second over. Hussey responded by carting Zaheer Khan for a bigger six off the next ball. Hussey then trotted out to the last ball of Syed Mohammad's over and lofted him for another six, only for Vijay to respond with a bigger six off the first ball of Chris Gayle's following over.
Chennai had played the first over quietly before Hussey steered the first ball of the second straight to Virat Kohli at point. Neither batsman was looking for a single, yet Kohli threw, missed and conceded the first of several overthrows. Vijay got strike, and played his first shot of assurance - the patented swat-pull - off the next ball. Three balls later, he perfected the shot and sent it screaming for his first six. He might not have even had strike for those balls, had Kohli resisted the urge to throw needlessly. Bangalore were sent on a leather hunt, but did not seem to learn from their mistakes as Syed Mohammad slung in another needless throw in the 15th over to give Hussey strike. This time, though, it resulted in a wicket as Hussey perished off the very next ball. Too little, too late.
When Dwayne Bravo walked out for the final ball of the innings, Chris Gayle was on a hat-trick, and had conceded only a single off the first five. Gayle fired the last one full, on a length that was almost impossible to get under. Not for Bravo, though, who stayed back in the crease, hauled the bat up in a high back lift, and managed to lever the ball over the straight boundary. Chennai went from 199 to 205, the Jamaican did not wince, the Trinidadian did not smile, and Chepauk swayed to a moment dripping with Calypso flair as the players walked off.
Most bowlers have tried to hide from Gayle, but R Ashwin isn't one of them. He nailed him for the second time in two games, luring him into a classic offspinner's trap. "I was always confident to go up against Gayle and take him on," he would say later. Ashwin's nemesis, though, was the other big-built left-hand batsman in the Bangalore line-up - Saurabh Tiwary, who had smashed a ball straight into his head the other night. He bowled six balls at Tiwary in the final, conceded four runs and escaped without damage. It helped that Tiwary wasn't in very good form tonight.
Chennai have two specialist spinners, but between them they have the ability to bowl at least six different balls. Ashwin, classified as an offspinner, produced a legbreak to go with his bag of his sliders, offbreaks and carom balls. Jakati, who normally bowls orthodox left-arm spin, bowled a Chinaman to dismiss Luke Pomersbach. He tried it again off the next ball, but this time it slipped out and was no-balled for height.
The closing scenes of the IPL were a lot like the tournament itself: long-winding and a touch contrived. Unlike last year, though, there was no gaudy closing ceremony featuring inflated, large-size replicas of batsmen and bowlers dancing to Bollywood tunes. There was also no passionate speech from Lalit Modi, who instead tweeted: "Atmosphere absolutely electric at the Wembley stadium. No comparison to the earlier game today." What the final presentation did include, was prizes in several categories including one for the ground with the best outfield and pitch. It all ended in ironic fashion as N Srinivasan, in his capacity as BCCI secretary, presented the winners medals to players of the Chennai Super Kings, the team he owns. Conflict of interest, anyone?
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo