Had Manvinder Bisla failed in the IPL final and Kolkata Knight Riders lost the game, Gautam Gambhir would have been inundated with queries over his decision to leave out the destructive Brendon McCullum – akin to the criticism Virender Sehwag got for keeping Morne Morkel out of the eliminator against Chennai Super Kings. This is all the more reason why the Kolkata think-tank’s bravery should be lauded. They made a tough choice but backed a local talent to fire, and Bisla did not let them down. On the contrary, he exceeded all expectations, and played the stellar role in taking KKR to their maiden IPL title.
Bisla’s heroics are praiseworthy especially because he took charge of the game after KKR had lost Gambhir early. Throughout the tournament, it had been the left-handed skipper of the team who had led the team’s charge. However, he could not come up with the goods in the final, putting extreme pressure on the line-up that had struggled following the loss of Gambhir in the earlier games. Unlike Gambhir, Bisla lacked the big-match experience, but came up with an effort that would have made a veteran proud.
The special feature of Bisla’s knock was that he never allowed the bowlers to dictate terms after dismissal of Gambhir. The need of the hour for Kolkata was to keep up with the high scoring rate, and Bisla was successful in doing the same by taking on the bowlers early in the over. This put additional pressure on Chennai’s bowlers, and they failed to run into any sort of rhythm. The key to Bisla’s match-winning display lay in the fact that he took on every Chennai bowler and came out on top. KKR’s counter-attack began with Bisla taking on Albie Morkel, and he meted out unbridled punishment to everyone from Dwayne Bravo to the spinners R. Ashwin and Shadab Jakati.
Bisla was aided in a big way by the experienced Jacques Kallis, who made sure that Bisla got most of the strike during their partnership. Simultaneously, he also ensured that he himself gotthe crucial boundaries to always keep KKR on par with the desired run rate. Their partnership put Chennai’s bowlers on the back foot, and kept them there until Bisla fell trying to keep up with the pace. His dismissal gave Chennai an opening, but Kallis’ experience kept them at bay.
Chennai’s best chance to sneak in a win was when Kallis fell in the penultimate over, following a few excellent deliveries from Ben Hilfenhaus. However, Dhoni’s team lost the window of opportunity due to lack of discipline. A couple of run-out chances were grassed, and Hilfenhaus delivered a no-ball when runs should have been at a premium.
As expected, KKR came up trumps because they were wonthe big moments. First, they managed to restrict CSK to under 200 despite the hosts having plenty of wickets in hand. And even though 190 seemed like a match-winning score in a final, they had the right men in Bisla and Kallis to do the chasing job.
--By A Cricket Analyst