Shah Rukh Khan during a heart-stopping moment in the final on Sunday. (Bangalore News Photos)
Bangalore, June 1: With such a strong Bollywood link to the IPL VII final, the finish simply had to be dramatic.
And, so, it was as the Kolkata Knight Riders snared their second IPL title, an achievement which has placed them on a par with the Chennai Super Kings.
The win, which came with three deliveries to spare, has again placed the world at the feet of Shah Rukh Khan and his Knights.
2012, 2014.… Can it get better?
Reduced to tears was Preity Zinta (not that she looked any less wowing), with the Kings XI Punjab just falling short in their maiden entry into an IPL final.
At the break, it seemed that a Calcuttan — Wriddhiman Saha (115 ..) — would deny the Knights. But Manish Pandey changed the script, almost single-handedly.
Till the final, Pandey’s claim to fame was being the first Indian to score a hundred in the IPL. That was back in 2009, in the Royal Challengers Bangalore colours.
Now, Manish’s CV has been enhanced.
Familiar with every blade of grass at the Chinnaswamy, Manish was more than positive (and bold) from the beginning and produced a superb 94 off 50 balls.
Under pressure, Manish couldn’t have done better, except to have remained not out.
The Gautam Gambhirs and the Virender Sehwags didn’t fire on what was a massive night, but the “lesser” men, Manish and Saha, held centre stage.
Both got a life, though. Not that it’s too much of a deal in T20.
One can’t, of course, forget Piyush Chawla, who held nerve to unleash two difference-making hits in the final moments.
Right then, the Chinnaswamy wasn’t exactly the ideal spot for the weak-hearted.
Somebody has to lift his game when the odds are high. For the Knights, the odds were exceedingly high: a target of 200. Two years ago, it was Manvinder Singh Bisla who carved out a special. This time, Manish has become the toast of his franchise, which rose like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes.
Four defeats in a row to nine wins on the trot. Incredible stuff.
Used to passionate crowd support, the Knights must often have felt like playing at the Eden. A majority of the over 31,000 at the Chinnaswamy, after all, had time only for their purple and gold.
The win means so much for Gambhir as well, who has done a Mahendra Singh Dhoni by lifting the IPL trophy twice.
(Sunil Narine, Shakib-al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan had done the victory lap the last time too.)
Emotional and sporting was Shah Rukh.
First, Shah Rukh wore the Kings XI shirt (after the final) and, then, acknowledged that Preity’s men had been the team of this edition.
“Never thought we’d do it.… This is marvellous,” Shah Rukh said, breaking into Veer-Zaara’s superhit Jaanam dekh lo.
Striking a personal note, Shah Rukh dedicated this win to his “youngest child (AbRam)”.
Sans controversies, barring the unseemly episode involving Mitchell Starc and Kieron Pollard, IPL VII won’t be forgotten quickly.
Not least because of the way the finalists played.… One methodical, the other with gay abandon, symbolising T20 cricket.
It wasn’t madness on the part of the Kings XI, but the Knights had a method and took the winner’s handsome purse of Rs 15 crore.
You may not swear by the IPL, but you can’t ignore it.
“An even final,” had been former India captain Ravi Shastri’s prediction, in an interview to The Telegraph.