Kolkata Knight Riders became the new champions of the Indian Premier League as they defeated defending champions Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in a nerve-wracking final to win their maiden IPL final on Sunday.
Chasing a stiff target of 191, little known Manvinder Bisla played the most defining innings of his life as he smashed the CSK bowlers to all corners to notch up 89 off only 48 balls (8x4, 5x6) ably supported by Jacques Kallis (69, 49 balls, 7x4, 1x6) as most popular franchise of the cash-rich league finally lived upto its reputation.
The moment Manoj Tiwary hit Dwayne Bravo to the square leg boundary for the second successive boundary, the delirious KKR players were all into the ground as their principal owner Shah Rukh was engaged in a frenzied celebrations.
The day however belonged to Bisla wasn't supposed to play this match had Laxmipathy Balaji not suffered hamstring injury. The decision to drop Brendon McCullum was widely debated but the lad from Himachal Pradesh put all the speculation to rest as he emerged as an unlikely hero among the galaxy of stars.
Despite losing Gautam Gambhir early, Bisla played a blinder as he took on the CSK attack by the scruff of their neck. Four boundaries of an Albie Morkel over set the tone and couple of clean sixes of Ravichandran Ashwin meant that the Knights were certainly there in the match.
The best part was that Bisla-Kallis duo saw Ben Hilfenhaus' first spell without taking any risks and then launched into the other bowlers. As Bisla started spanking the CSK bowlers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni suddenly started worrying.
Bisla's 50 came off only 27 balls but the former India colts player knew that he has a job at hand. Dwayne Bravo was bowling his slowers but in his two overs he was hit for two sixes over long.
The calm Kallis was ready to drop anchor as he nudged the singles and rotated the strike with ease. Bisla's fifth six was a majestic one off Ashwin over extra cover.
The duo added 136 runs for the second wicket before Bisla whose momentum was broken by the strategic time-out finally tried to slash Morkel only to offer an easy catch to Subramanium Badrinath.
Bisla departed with 52 still to get but Kallis ensured that KKR got one boundary per over. Finally it was Shakib Al Hasan and Manoj Tiwary who held their nerves to seal the issue.
Earlier it was Raina's blitzkrieg and Hussey's priceless knock that helped defending champions Chennai Super Kings post a commendable 190 for three after winning the toss.
Hussey (54, 43 balls, 4x4, 2x6) along with Murali Vijay (42, 32 balls, 4x4, 1x6) set the platform with blistering opening partnership of 87 runs. Raina (73, 38 balls, 3x4, 5x6) then complemented the opening duo's effort as he hit some of the biggest sixes in the tournament with a few of them flying out of the stadium. Along with Hussey, he added 73 in less than 7 overs.
Another highlight of the CSK innings was brilliant running between the wickets by trio of Hussey, Raina and Vijay on a humid Chennai evening. When it mattered most, the KKR bowling attack flopped badly but as they say that all's well that ends well.
Laxmipathy Balaji's absence was felt as Brett Lee (0-42 in 4 overs) turned out to be very expensive as the trio of Hussey, Vijay and Raina took him to cleaners. Such was the pressure on Sunl Narine (0-37 in 4 overs) that he ended up with his worst figures in the tournament.
After quiet first two overs, the mayhem started in the third over bowled by Lee. Hussey first played a lofted shot over bowler's head for a boundary and then Vijay played his trademark shot over mid-wicket for another boundary.
In the very next over from Shakib Al Hasan, the seasoned Aussie first swept over fine leg and then played a reverse sweep as floodgates opened.
A desperate KKR skipper Gambhir had to bring in his trump card Sunil Narine early for an over but it was the sixth over bowled by Lee that shifted momentum in favour of 'Men in Yellow'. Both Vijay and Hussey hit Lee for a six each as CSK reached 50. The over from Lee cost KKR 19 runs.
Even more impressive was their running between the wickets as senior pro Hussey pushed Vijay for converting ones into twos.
It needed an inspirational catch from Shakib Al Hasan in the deep to break the partnership as Vijay didn't get the required elevation off Rajat Bhatia's slower delivery.
The tempo however didn't drop as Raina brought up team's 100 with a huge six over deep mid-wicket off Kallis's bowling after Hussey had played a nice square-cut. Hussey reached his 50 off 38 balls.
As Raina went on a hitting spree, Hussey started playing the second fiddle until he played a cross-batted shot off Jacques Kallis' bowling.