The Best Finals in the History of the IPL

The lopsided and fickle nature of sport assures that even a highly favored team filled with talented individuals can, on a bad day, lose the plot and drop out even before reaching the business end of the competition. On the other hand, perennial bridesmaids and otherwise underdogs can shine through with a sublime display of talent.

The teams playing the marquee cricket competition that is the IPL are subject to the same fluctuating fortunes that affect other sports. The experience of being so near yet so far always rears its head, even for the most well-equipped teams in the world! The Independent reports that the IPL has transformed the nature of ‘The Gentleman’s Game’ as we know it in a rather dramatic fashion. If you are a gamer looking to know how to play fantasy cricket, paying close attention to these top-of-the-ring finals from IPL’s storied history will help immensely.

1.  Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Deccan Chargers – 2009:

The 2009 IPL between RCB and DC featured a boatload of legendary names, the likes of Herschelle Gibbs, Adam Gilchrist, Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid, and Anil Kumble, to name a few. The 2009 edition of the IPL was its second and saw the now-defunct Deccan Chargers, led by Adam Gilchrist, put one over RCB. Unluckily for the RCB team, even with all their talent failed to fire on the big stage, something that has dogged them all through the IPLs multiple seasons.

Even Anil Kumble’s splendid bowling, which saw him claim four wickets while giving away just 16 runs, failed to gain victory for RCB. But thanks to his efforts, the Chargers were restricted to a manageable total of 143. Even as RCBs batting order around Ross Taylor collapsed in spectacular fashion, he appeared to be pulling his team back from the brink. Andrew Symonds had other plans, dismissing the entrenched Taylor and a young Virat Kohli with back-to-back deliveries. Most RCB batters lost their wickets, with their scores still in single digits. The Deccan Chargers squeezed Bangalore’s defenses with a tiny 6–run margin for their maiden and only victory in the IPL. The Man of the Match award for Anil Kumble provided little consolation when the trophy could have very well been theirs.

2.  Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Chennai Super Kings – 2011:

The curse of the big stage continued to haunt RCB as they lost the 2011 IPL final to an inspired CSK. The Bangalore-based squad could only watch from the sidelines as their regional rivals lifted their 2nd consecutive IPL trophy. Chennai drew first blood and got off to a phenomenal start as the opening pair of Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay struck the ball at will to put on 158 runs for the 1st wicket. Murali Vijay missed out on a well-deserved century by a whisker, falling short by a mere five runs as he helped Chennai put up a total of 205 in their allotted 20 overs.

Having to contend with a required run rate of over ten straight off the bat, RCB lost Chris Gayle for a duck, thanks to R. Ashwin’s wizardry. Things went downhill from there for RCB as they couldn’t hold it together after losing the in-form Gayle early in the innings. The men in yellow restricted the Bangaloreans to a mere 147 to add a second IPL title to their trophy cabinet.

3.  Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Chennai Super Kings – 2012:

CSK came into the 2012 final with confidence and were playing their 4th consecutive final, hoping to win a 3rd consecutive IPL title. KKR, on the other hand, were in the full glare of the spotlight for the first time as this was their first-ever trip to the IPL summit. The Super Kings, choosing to bat first, posted a respectable total of 190/3 in their 20 overs, with significant contributions by Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, and Suresh Raina.

KKR appeared to lose their way when they lost the crucial wicket of their captain Gautam Gambhir early on in the chase. But The 136-run stand between Manvinder Singh Bisla and Jacques Kallis helped KKR lift their maiden IPL title by five wickets. The highlight of the final was the match-winning knock of 69 off just 49 deliveries by South African legend Jacques Kallis. Thus CSKs attempt to win a third title on the trot was thwarted.

4.  Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Kings XI Punjab – 2014:

Long relegated to the shadows, Kings XI Punjab sauntered into their first and only ever IPL final in 2014. Their contest with KKR was a cracker of a game, as Punjab batting first gave a sizeable target of 199 to KKR to chase down in their 20 overs. The duo of Manan Vohra – 67 (52) and Wriddhiman Saha – 155 (55) contributed significantly to Punjab’s substantial score of 199 and threw down the gauntlet to the KKR side.

KKR rose to the challenge posed by the Kings 11 team and chased down the target with three balls to spare. Manish Pandey’s useful knock of 94 off just fifty balls could not have come at a better time for the Calcutta-based team. Saha’s unbeaten 115 went in vain as KKR took their 2nd IPL trophy in three years. The KKR – KXIP face-off in the 2014 final was the only one in which a target of 200 was chased down successfully. Many discussions have centered around the evolution of a cricketing format that is as far removed from sporting tradition as it gets. While some may lament the loss of test cricket’s stature, it is clear that IPL will continue to revel in the spotlight, even if at the expense of cricket’s more traditional forms.

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