The Kolkata Knight Riders beat the Kings XI Punjab by three wickets in a thrilling final over as they captured their second IPL title in three years.
The final, played in Bengaluru, was a fitting finale for a competition that has produced some fantastic cricket over the previous weeks and the hype surrounding the game did not diappoint either.
The game was full of potentail heavyweight clashes as both sides paraded an array of high-class stars who had all had impressive tournaments. The Kolkata Knight Riders paraded stars such as Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Sunil Narine whilst the Kings XI had an equally impressive line-up with players such as Virendar Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell and
Mitchell Johnson to name just a few.
The toss was won by Kolkata Knight Riders' captain Gautam Gambhir and he decided to field
first. This looked to be a good decision as the Kings XI struggled to 30-2 from the first six overs. More importantly for Kolkata they had managed to dismiss the very dangerous Virender Sehwag for single figures in the process ensuring that he was unable to
reproduce his fantastic innings of 122 against the Super Kings in qualifier 2 on Friday.
However, Manan Vohra (67) and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha's unbeaten 115
catapulted the Kings XI to a more than useful 199/4 when the overs ran out. The
pair added 129 runs in just 12 overs as they increased the scoring rate dramatically. Vohra hit six fours and two sixes in his 52 ball knock whilst Saha hit 10 fours and eight sixes in his 55 ball innings. His strike rate of 209 was no less impressive. Importantly for the Kings XI they were able to nullify the threat posed by Sunil Narine in the Knight Riders' attack, which not many sides have managed during IPL7. Narine finished up as the most expensive bowler
in the innings, a rare event indeed.
If the Knight Riders were to chase down such a challenging score they would need a major contribution from one of their top players. Their opening partnership of Robin Uthappa and skipper Gambhir were certainly equipped to do just that but were dealt an immediate blow when one of the stars of the tournament, and leading run scorer, Uthappa perished in the first over to the pace of Australian Mitchell Johnson. Gambhir also fell soon after which left 24 year-old Mandish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan to steady the ship.
The pair did just that as they dragged their side back into the match with a solid 71-run partnership. Pathan played his part with a 22 ball 36 but it was Pandey's innings that was key to the overall outcome of the match. Despite wickets falling regularly Pandey kept his assault
going until he too fell in the chase for the title to Karanveer Singh, who finished with figures of 4-54 for the Kings.
Pandey's innings of 94 from just 50 balls, striking 7 fours and 6 sixes, was the reason why the Knight Riders were able to be in a position to win the match.
The game though went down to the wire with five runs required off the final over from Awana but Piyush Chawla held his nerve, and delivered for his side, by slicing a four over the point region to send the Knight Riders supporters and players into raptures as they won by three
wickets, with three balls to spare, to regain the title they won in 2012. Pandey rightly was crowned man of the match but a special mention should go to Saha and his unbeaten century for the losing finalists which was no less impressive.
The end of the match was a fitting way to end a tournament that has been filled with tension and drama throughout. Roll on next year's tournament which I am sure will be filled with more hig quality cricket and entertainment.
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