CSK displayed a scintillating cricketing genius to win their 4th finals. The openers, as has been the trend up until now, gave a rollicking start to the team. Du Plessis went on to score 86 and then Uthappa and Moeen played some dazzling shots to bring up a final score of 192. In the larger scheme of things, a score of 193 in finals is daunting.
KKR has had plenty of issues with their batting line-up. Their middle order has failed to fire completely. Apart from Tripathi, the entire middle order has misfired. Last night was no different. At one point, KKR was cruising at 90 for no loss, thanks to half-centuries from Shubhman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer.
However, after the team lost their openers, it was a rudderless ship. From 11-16 overs, they could amass only 28 runs and lost 5 wickets. There was no recovery from there. KKR could have made this their third IPL trophy but alas it was not to be. CSK, after making it to their 9th IPL finals finally broke the jinx and converted this final into their 4th trophy.
Post-match, Dhoni was in a candid mood and made quite a few admissions and revelations. He was at his magnanimous best and appreciated the efforts of his opposition. He said that before he went into CSK’s performance, it was pertinent to acknowledge and look at KKR. He remarked, “For the position, they were in after the first phase, it is very difficult to come back and do what they have done. If any team deserved to win the IPL this year, I feel it was KKR. I think the break helped them.”
It is essential to understand how KKR was performing in the run-up to the UAE leg of the IPL. When the IPL commenced, the team played a few matches in India in April. In that segment, the team was on a losing streak and could not put up note-worthy performances. They were languishing 7th in the points table and had won just 2 games off the 7 matches played thus far. However, in the UAE leg, the team bounced back spectacularly and that put them in a commanding position.
The team underwent a paradigm change. They introduced Venkatesh Iyer as an opener and that turned out be a masterstroke. He scored four fifties, also bolstered their batting lineup. Another blessing in disguise was the injury to Pat Cummins. Cummins was their start bowler but could not make any impression. His replacement, Lockie Ferguson, bowled fast and made an immediate impact. The coming back of form for Shakib and Narine was also vital. Narine and Varun Chakravarthy were clinical in their bowling performances. They picked up wickets in heaps and put a stop to the run-flow.
At the end of the league stage, they finished 4th on the points table. Even at this stage, not many expected them to be in the finals. They beat Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals in closely fought games. They reached the finals to meet Dhoni’s CSK. To look at KKR’s overall performance across both parts of the tournament, it is remarkable how they turned around their fortunes. MSD, as gracious as he always is, was spot on in his analysis and praise.