The Super Kings beat the Royal Challengers by 58 runs after dismissing the big-hitting Jamaican early to protect the 205 they made.
Chennai blunt Bangalore's threat in Gayle to claim IPL title
As a jubilant Ravichandran Ashwin raced around in a crazed celebration, his equally-excited teammates brought him down, forming a scrum over him.
Such scenes usually belong to the end of a final, but it came after just the fourth ball of the run-chase as every Chennai Super Kings player and fan knew the fate of the game had been sealed with the dismissal of Chris Gayle.
It was not an irrational thought, for Ashwin had just dismissed the man who could have won the game single-handedly for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Gayle has been the prize wicket of this Indian Premier League (IPL), a revamped version with 10 teams that came to an end in Chennai. A total of 199 players had been on show during the past 51 days and 74 matches of the tournament, but none had come even close to matching the effect that Gayle had.
From 11 previous games, the Jamaican had smashed 608 runs at a strike-rate of 184.8 and Chennai, the defending champions, knew their score of 205 for five was not safe as long as Gayle was at the crease.
Ashwin made sure he did not last long, beating him with two off-breaks before finding the edge of Gayle’s mighty willow with one bowled from a round-arm action. Slightly quicker, it skidded in, slicing off the batsman’s slashing bat.
“I was always confident bowling to Gayle,” said Ashwin. “He is a left-hander and I can get the ball to spin away from him. I also felt he was just a little hesitant coming after me.
“So it was just a bit of a mind game, try to take him on rather than just let him come at me; just taking advantage of the mind games.”
The off-spinner dismissed Mayank Agarwal in his next over and there was no sign of the wild celebrations — just a little wave of the fingers, bidding goodbye.
Shadab Jakati later came on to send AB de Villiers and Luke Pomersbach back to the pavilion, and Bangalore had lost four wickets for 62 in 8.3 overs. They eventually finished on 147 for eight, 58 runs short of the target.
“We retained players before the auction and bought back several others,” said the Chennai and India captain MS Dhoni, who fielded an unchanged squad for the sixth game on the trot. “The players have delivered on that faith.”
Murali Vijay (95) was one of the four players retained by Chennai, while Michael Hussey (63) was one of the many they bought back. Opening the innings, these two laid the foundations of their win with a blazing 159-run partnership for the opening wicket.
Hussey and Vijay, two of the swiftest runners between the wickets, cleared the ground with ease as well, smacking four sixes before Hussey hit the first four of the innings in the eighth over.
Sixes, however, remained their preferred mode of scoring in the sapping Chennai heat. Both batsmen were regularly on their haunches, gasping for breath and signalling to the dugout for drinks.
“We tried to waste as much time in between balls as we could,” Hussey said. “Certainly after running a couple of twos or threes, it was very difficult to get some air in.
“We tried as many as we could and I think we were both just trying to hit as many boundaries as we possibly could because we knew we had plenty of hitting left in the shed.”
Despite their physical discomfort, Hussey and Vijay added 159 runs from 14.5 overs, the highest partnership for Chennai in IPL history, before the Australian dragged Syed Mohammed to Mithun at long-on.
Hussey shook his head as he walked back; Vijay gave him a hug, but the fans were already roaring for the man coming in: MS Dhoni. Vijay, however, departed to a standing ovation after his magnificent 52-ball innings. Fast tiring, he chopped Aravind to Vettori at covers, falling five runs short of a century.
“Vijay just had a twinkle in the eye today,” Hussey said. “He looked very intense and very focused, and it was a pleasure to bat out there with him. We both got each other going.”
This was the second consecutive IPL title for Chennai; they also won cricket’s Champions League last season and Ashwin hopes this winning trend continues.
“I have been telling quite a few people that we need to be the Man United of IPL and I hope it comes true,” he said.
Chennai v Bangalore scorecard
Chennai won by 58 runs.Australia opened their World Cup campaign with an emphatic 57-run win over England at the Punjab Cricket Stadium in Mohali on Sunday. Asutralia made 279-7 after winning the toss, and in reply England managed just 222, despite a lusty unbeaten 60 by Michael Yardy.
• Key moment: R Ashwin’s celebration after dismissing Chris Gayle cheaply for the second consecutive game spoke volumes for the price Chennai put on the wicket of the destructive West Indian.
• Player of the match: Slightly short of runs coming into the final, Murali Vijay played a magnificent innings to lay the foundations Chennai’s win. His 52-ball 95, laced with four fours and six sixes, and 159-run partnership for the opening wicket with Michael Hussey allowed the home team to post the highest score in IPL finals.
M Hussey c Mithun b Syed 63
Vijay c Vettori b Aravind 95
Dhoni c Kohli b Aravind 22
Raina b Gayle 8
A Morkel c Kohli b Gayle 2
Badrinath not out 0
Dr Bravo not out 6
Extras 2w, 7lb 9Total (5 wkts 20 overs) 205
Fall of wickets: 1-159; 2-188; 3-188; 4-199; 5-199.
Bowling: Zaheer 4-0-30-0; Aravind 3-0-39-2; Gayle 4-0-34-2; Syed 3-0-39-1; Vettori 4-0-34-0; Mithun 2-0-22-0
Agarwal b Ashwin 10
Gayle c Dhoni b Ashwin 0
Kohli lbw b Raina 35
De Villiers lbw b Jakati 18
Pomersbach c&b Jakati 2
Tiwary not out 42
Vettori c&b Ashwin 0
Mithun c Bollinger b Bravo 11
Zaheer c Hussey b Bollinger 21
Syed not out 2
Anderson c Haddin b Hastings 4
Extras 1w, 2lb, 2b, 1nb 6Total (8 wkts, 20 overs) 147
Fall of wickets: 1-1; 2-16; 3-48; 4-62; 5-69; 6-70; 7-92; 8-130.
Bowling: Ashwin 4-0-16-3; A Morkel 3-0-24-0; Bollinger 3-0-28-1; Jakati 4-0-21-2; Raina 4-0-39-1; Dr Bravo 2-0-15-1