Chennai, the super kings

Suresh Raina...the man behind Chennai Super Kings' title-triumph.

Suresh Raina played a major role in Chennai Super Kings' title win. He scripted his team's fight-back with a chancy but gutsy 57 off 35 balls (three fours, three sixes) and then inspired the fielders with a diving catch to send back Saurabh Tiwary. He also claimed the wicket of Harbhajan Singh in two overs of slow bowling. Over to Nandakumar Marar.

Shane Warne, a master tactician in T20, decided to use a spinner to bowl with the new ball in the DLF IPL-3. He entrusted Yusuf Pathan with the task of taunting the opening batsmen. The Rajasthan Royals skipper felt that enticing batsmen to play the big shots during the powerplay overs — in the hope that the risk of conceding runs at the start could be counterbalanced by the spinners if they can get early wickets — was a gamble worth taking.

The idea caught on as other teams in the IPL too adopted this tactic. However, it was Chennai Super Kings' off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who proved the most effective with the new ball, administering his shock treatment to the unsuspecting opening batsmen known for big-hitting. He slid the new ball into the batsmen who, accustomed to reading swing and seam movement, were now forced into a new situation. Many openers took the bait, while a few others exercised caution until the fast bowlers were back.

M. S. Dhoni was clear about Ashwin's role in the team as a utility player more than a match-winner. “He does the job of a seamer for us— getting wickets and keeping the opponents quiet in the first six overs,” said the Chennai Super Kings captain. “I had seen him bowl in the Challengers. He bowls a consistent line and length — not one of those that you watch and fancy, but very effective. He also has the ‘carom' ball, so he can confuse batsmen at the same time.”

In the final against Mumbai Indians, Ashwin started with a maiden over. He tied down Shikhar Dhawan and created difficulties for Sachin Tendulkar. His four overs cost Chennai Super Kings only 24 runs.

On a high... Chennai Super Kings players celebrate after beating Mumbai Indians in the final.

For Mumbai Indians Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling, tying up Matthew Hayden in knots and keeping Murali Vijay quiet.

Anil Kumble also tried his hand with the new ball, making spin at the start of an innings one of the favoured tactics in IPL-3.

Ashwin showed the ability to stand his ground in the face of the onslaughts from power-hitters. This is the kind of challenge the spinners are expected to overcome in T20. Besides, self-confidence and support from the captain are also critical factors.

Like Ashwin, Harbhajan was another bowler who had won the confidence of his skipper Tendulkar and coach Robin Singh. He convinced them into giving him the new ball.

Some consolation... Sachin Tendulkar, the skipper of the losing finalist, Mumbai Indians, with the orange cap for scoring the most number of runs in IPL-3.

Fast bowlers operating from the other end benefited from batsmen's frustrations against the spinners. Doug Bollinger's pace and control and Zaheer Khan's ability to cramp up the batsmen resulted in breakthroughs for their respective teams.

Bollinger's inclusion brought some punch to the Chennai Super Kings attack. In the company of Albie Morkel, the burly Aussie kept the Mumbai Indians batsmen in check in the final. Bollinger struck the first blow for the Chennai outfit by dismissing Dhawan. Morkel then set up the dangerous Kieron Pollard in the death overs by sending down length balls for the West Indian to hit straight. Hayden pouched a blinder to dismiss Pollard.

Talking of Pollard's dismissal, Dhoni said: “It is a gut feeling, sometimes it works. We knew Pollard would attempt to hit straight. He does not play the sweep, so the fielder was in position. The batsman went for a straight hit, but did not get the elevation. And so our tactic worked.”

Pollard's amazing ability to clear the field thanks to his timing and power gave Mumbai Indians visions of victory. Twenty-seven runs off 10 balls that included three fours and two sixes sparked celebrations in the stands. But after his dismissal, it was Chennai Super Kings' turn to celebrate.

Suresh Raina played a major role in Chennai Super Kings' title win. He scripted his team's fight-back with a chancy but gutsy 57 off 35 balls (three fours, three sixes) and then inspired the fielders with a diving catch to send back Saurabh Tiwary. Raina also claimed the wicket of Harbhajan Singh in two overs of slow bowling.

Pragyan Ojha, the highest wicket-taker, with the purple cap.

Chennai Super Kings had lost the 2008 final against Rajasthan Royals narrowly. So the victory this year meant the wait was worthwhile. “Two years is not a long time. We had time to prepare and though our team was affected by injuries (Balaji, Flintoff not available), it played consistent cricket in the last three years,” said Dhoni.

Earlier, Royal Challengers Bangalore defeated Deccan Chargers in the match for the third place. The Bangalore outfit, thus, qualified for the Champions League, set to be held in South Africa.

THE SCORES

Final: Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, Dr. D. Y. Patil Sports Academy, Mumbai.

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by 22 runs.

Chennai Super Kings: M. Vijay c Tiwary b Fernando 26, M. L. Hayden c Rayudu b Pollard 17, S. K. Raina (not out) 57, S. Badrinath c Malinga b Fernando 14, M. S. Dhoni c Fernando b Zaheer 22, J. A. Morkel (run out) 15, S. Anirudha (not out) 6, Extras (lb-3, w-8) 11. Total (for 5 wkts; 20 overs) 168.

Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-47, 3-67, 4-139, 5-157.

Mumbai Indians bowling: Harbhajan Singh 4-0-30-0, Malinga 4-0-33-0, Zaheer Khan 4-0-34-1, Fernando 4-0-23-2, Pollard 4-0-45-1.

Mumbai Indians: S. Dhawan c Dhoni b Bollinger 0, S. R. Tendulkar c Vijay b Jakati 48, A. M. Nayar (run out) 27, Harbhajan Singh lbw Raina 1, A. T. Rayudu (run out) 21, S. S. Tiwary c Raina b Jakati 0, J. P. Duminy c Jakati b Muralitharan 6, K. A. Pollard c Hayden b Morkel 27, Zaheer Khan (run out) 1, S. L. Malinga (not out) 1, C. R. D. Fernando (not out) 2, Extras (b-1, lb-6, w-5) 12. Total (for 9 wkts; 20 overs) 146.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-67, 3-73, 4-99, 5-100, 6-114, 7-142, 8-142, 9-143.

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ashwin 4-1-24-0, Bollinger 4-0-31-1, Morkel 3-0-20-1, Muralitharan 4-0-17-1, Jakati 3-0-26-2, Raina 2-0-21-1.