Yusuf leades Rajasthan Royals to win inaugural IPL

June 2nd, 2008 - 2:53 am ICT by admin  


Mumbai, June 2 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals are the champions of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL). In a tense, last-ball finish they beat Chennai Super Kings by three wickets at the D.Y. Patil Stadium at Nerul in Navi Mumbai Sunday night. The Royals, dubbed as underdogs initially, steadily grew into the best team by the end of the Twenty20 tournament under Shane Warne’s leadership. Fittingly, he was at the wicket to calm his team mates’ nerves and pull off a game that was tremulously balanced on the knife’s edge when Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled the last ball with the scores tied.

Royals needed 18 runs from the last two overs and as luck would have it Balaji was not at his best in the game when he was asked to bowl the last over. He could not steel his nerves and so was Parthiv Patel behind the stumps. A wide resulted in a bye and that nullified a dot ball he bowled.

Winning the toss and electing to field, Royals bowled and fielded superbly to restrict Super Kings to 163 for five and then reached the target, notwithstanding a few anxious moments, to lift the glittering trophy and with it the winners’ cheque $1 million.

Once again it was Yusuf Pathan who did the star turn for his team. When Super Kings innings was trundling along nicely, The Baroda all-rounder struck three crucial blows with his steady off-spin to put the Chennai lower order batsmen under pressure.

Then when his own team’s batting seemed to be floundering, he came in to clout 56 runs with four sixes.

After the two tame semi-finals, it was a fitting final, which could have been scripted differently if Super Kings had spaced their innings a bit better in the last five overs, which only yielded 46 runs even though they had five wickets in hand. Yet, it was a needle contest that could have gone either way.

Royals were extremely sharp in the field, backing their bowlers. But Chennai will be ruing the two dropped chances Pathan was given and that made all the difference in the final analysis. He was dropped first by Suresh Raina off Muttiah Muralitharan, when on 13, and then by Manpreet Gony off his own bowling when he was on 33.

When he finally departed to a super runout by Suresh Raina, man of the match Pathan had Put his side on the road to victory in the company of Shane Watson, the man of the series, who made 28.

The last over, requiring eight runs, was a close affair, but the advantage was always with the batting side and with one ball to go and the scores tied, Sohail Tanvir swung Balaji away for the winning runs.

Super Kings’ innings had a sedate start and made steady progress, but never really exploded, because every time the batsmen tried to force the pace they ended up losing wickets on a track that was not playing true.

Though there was bounce for bowlers like Tanvir and Watson whenever they bent their back, for most of the time the ball was not coming on to the bat and attempts to heave the ball beyond the ropes ended up in catches at the long boundary line.

The Royals bowlers stuck to the basics, bowling a good line and length to force the batsmen to make space for their shots, rather than give them the width to free their arms.

The tight control over the bowling and sharp field placement by Warne ensured that Super Kings, even with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the in-form Raina at the crease could not get the score-board galloping.

Warne, as usual, deviated from the normal by using three pacers for the first three overs, but it was the advent of Pathan that started the slide. Pathan accounted for Vidyut, Parthiv Patel and the hard-hitting Albie Morkel before Watson and Tanvir chipped in with a wicket each.

Patel, who was chugging along nicely to compile 38, then charged out to Pathan, who responded with a flat and fast delivery. Patel, who tried to run the ball towards third man edged to Akmal, who fumbled with the first attempt and then dived to his right to take the catch.

Morkel also misjudged Pathan’s pace and ended up top-edging to Akmal. Raina departed caught by Jadeja on the boundary, trying to hoist Watson.

In the end overs, Dhoni and Co. could not force the pace and that left them some 20 runs short.

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