On the 1st day of June 2014, the Kolkata Knight Riders clashed with the Kings XI Punjab in the final of this year’s Indian Premier League. For the Kings XI Punjab, this match, staged at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, was an opportunity to add its name to the list of franchises who have won the trophy; given how well it had performed throughout the season, the feat looked very likely. For the Kolkata Knight Riders, this was a chance to put behind a horrific season in 2013 and revive the fantastic memories of 2012, when it won its first-ever IPL.
Team composition: Kolkata played the same team that had won the previous game against the same opponent. Punjab, however, made a change in this game, bringing in the experienced Lakshmipathy Balaji for the young tyro Sandeep Sharma.
Batting: Kings XI was put into bat by Knight Riders following the toss, and they went on to utilise the good batting conditions pretty well in the early going. One of the dominant criticisms against them had been that they depended too much on the two Ms and they were always better off chasing. Regarding the first issue, Miller, Maxwell, or even Sehwag did not do much. It was Wriddhiman Saha, the diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman, who scored a brilliant century (115 not out in 55 balls), pointing it out to the powers that be that he is ready to don the mantle of Dhoni as and when the need arises.
Manan Vohra, a young Indian talent, also did extremely well to provide some crucial support to Saha with 67 from 52 balls. Together, these two batsmen boosted the total to an almost unattainable 199 for 4 in 20 overs. Throughout the tournament, a distinguishing feature of the Knight Riders’ game has been the contribution from each and every player in the team. Today it was the turn of Manish Pandey (94 from 50 balls) and Yusuf Pathan (36 from 22 balls) to do the needful for the Kolkata franchise.
Bowling: Like most other matches in the IPL, which is basically designed to be a runfest to appease popular demands, this game had not much in store for the bowlers. For KKR, Piyush Chawla claimed the most wickets (2 for 44). Sunil Narine (1 for 46) and Umesh Yadav (1 for 39) were successful as well.
Karanveer Singh has been one of the revelations for the KXIP in terms of picking up wickets and in this game too, he claimed 4 of them albeit for 54 runs in the four-over spell. Mitchell Johnson (2 for 41) was the other successful bowler. Akshar Patel once again bowled exceptionally well, conceding just 21 runs from 4 overs and with some support at the other end may have helped the Punjab side claim its first-ever IPL title.
Where do the teams go from here?
Both the teams have performed really well in coming as far as they have done in the tournament – the win in the end only makes it more memorable for the Kolkata Knight Riders but takes away nothing from the achievement of the Kings XI Punjab. The next stop for both the teams will be the Champions League T20, where they will aim to win in order to cap a good season. With the international competition over there, it will be harder; but the good thing is, especially for the supporters of the IPL, that both the teams have the wherewithal to do it.