It was a grand closing to the IPL 2011, with the most consistent of all teams, Chennai Super Kings, running away to a much-deserved win. Champion sides have a way about them that makes them different from some of the others and the Super Kings have set a benchmark for some of us to try and emulate.
Almost all of their batsmen and bowlers came to the party at different times in the tournament and the side wasn't reliant on a single player alone. That, to me, was the secret of their success. At various times in the tournament, there were various players who put their hands up and made themselves count - much like how Murali Vijay did in the final and Suresh Raina in the second qualifier before that.
'It was a dream come true to take lots of wickets'
Chennai's running between the wickets set the tone. It has been an oft-forgotten art of cricket in this format of the game, where fours and sixes are usually the name of the game but the Super Kings were simply superb between the wickets. Ones were easily converted into twos and there was an odd three as well in the midst - clearly taking the opposition by surprise.
Royal Challengers Bangalore would know that they were thoroughly outplayed. Once the Super Kings got to more than 200, Bangalore's only chance was to get a cracking start from Gayle and hope that one of the others could carry the momentum forward to infuse some excitement in the game.
Instead, it was the turn of the bowlers to come to the fore. Ashwin's use of the new ball has been exemplary in the tournament and it was no different in the final when he scalped a couple of vital wickets. Virat Kohli fought off an early finish but 206 was always going to test the best of batting line-ups in a pressure final.
Bangalore can be proud about the way they played in the tournament as well. There was, of course, that dependence on Gayle, but to be able to bat around a man in the kind of mood he was in, is also an art that they well-perfected. They probably needed a spinner alongside Daniel Vettori to put more pressure on the oppositions in the tournament, especially on tracks which had begun to tire out through the second half of the tournament.
IPL ki jai ho!
Mumbai Indians were the third side to get to the Champions League T20. The form tapered off towards the end but they seemed to have done enough to get to the third place, before losing to Bangalore in the end. Lasith Malinga had set the tone early in the tournament for them and the momentum was continued by some excellent batting from Ambati Rayadu.
The other team who would be happy with their performance are Kolkata Knight Riders, qualifying for their first-ever second stage. With a little more fortune, they would have even qualified in the top two positions and made it through to the Champions League T20 but such are the vagaries of the format - a close loss to the Mumbai Indians was followed by another one at the hands of the same opposition and the side missed out on qualification.
Professional Management Group