So Shahrukh Khan has had the last laugh! For five years he has suffered humiliation upon humiliation with his ownership of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
First came the public spat with Bengal icon Sourav Ganguly, who ultimately left KKR. Then came the bizarre multiple captain theory and the failure of legendary Aussie coach John Buchanan. Brendon McCullum hit a 150 at the very beginning of IPL1 and they initially had super 6 hitter Chris Gayle in their ranks. But it all came to naught.
KKR languished at the very bottom on the IPL. Filmi flops and other controversies plagued the badshah of Bollywood to make matters worse.
IPL5 also began on a sour note. SRK was caught smoking at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur and he had a case slapped against him. That was followed by the very ugly spat at Wankhede Stadium followed by his ban at the venue.
But KKR has won IPL5 in a magnificent chase in the final and SRK's fortunes may have finally changed.
One must say that all of KKR management’s moves finally fell in place. Rookie Sunil Narine was bought in for an eye-raising price and he proved to be the bowler of the tournament. Another newbie Manvinder Bisla came good in the final with his stunning 48-ball 89.
All the imports also came good. Yusuf Pathan, earlier with Rajasthan Royals, proved the difference in the qualifiers with Delhi Daredevils. Jacques Kallis was seen as a Test player with Royal Challengers Bangalore, but in this season impressed with his all-round performance including that in the final.
But the most successful import is Gautam Gambhir, who as captain has a greater winning percentage in IPL than even MS Dhoni! Gambhir has done well when captaining India too and now is a serious contender to take over from Dhoni.
Gambhir's biggest plus point is that he faces no leadership pressure in his batting. When he blanked New Zealand 5-0 as captain he averaged close to 110 in the series. In IPL5, he was the star batsman of KKR scoring 590 runs.
But the bottomline is that SRK is the King of IPL and Wankhede Stadium can eat its heart out!
Second time lucky for Shakib
In the 2012 Asia Cup final, Pakistan set a victory target of 237 runs. During a great chase, Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh top scored with a fine 68, but his team fell short to be a heart-breaking 234 all down.
Shakib almost saw the same thing happening all over again in the CSK-KKR final. In another close chase, Shakib hit the ball straight to Murli Vijay, who took his catch, in the last ball of the nineteenth over. CSK seemed to have the upper hand, but the umpire called a no ball.
The batsmen had run for two and the next ball was hit for a boundary. That set up the last over nicely for KKR. It proved to be the difference between victory and defeat and Shakib finally had something to smile about.
Another man who must be beaming is KKR coach Trevor Bayliss. Bayliss was the coach of the Sri Lankan side which finished as runners up in the 2011 ODI World Cup. At that time Bayliss watched Dhoni take the game away from his team.
It must have been deja vu for him when he saw Dhoni's boys set up an imposing target of 191, but this time he had Gambhir on his side and KKR emerged triumphant.
Dhoni's lean patch continues
Dhoni entered a purple patch from the T20 World Cup in 2007 right to IPL 2011. During this period he won two world cups, two year ending Test crowns, two IPLs and one Championship League.
In comparison the year following that has been an annus horibilis for Dhoni. Sure he has won a few home series and some matches against weaker teams but that’s about it. He has failed to win any series against a strong team on foreign soil or capture a tournament of repute. The latest IPL final loss adds to his list of disappointments.
In the past, Dhoni has re-invented his career as an ODI batsman with spectacular success. It is time for him to do it again with his captaincy and Test batting.
But he has a much easier job this time as we don't have a single overseas tour till the end of 2013 and he has already been given a second chance by the BCCI.
We also have the T20 WC, where Dhoni will have all the new Indian talent of IPL5.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/