From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.33 :: NO.40 :: Oct. 07, 2010

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CRICKET / CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL

Hail the Champion of champions!

The credit for turning the title clash Chennai Super Kings' way goes to its spinners, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ravichandran Ashwin. After the in-form Davy Jacobs, who had blitzed a 21-ball 34, was consumed by Ashwin, the Warriors never really recovered.

AP

On top of the world…Chennai Super Kings players celebrate with the Champions League trophy at the Wanderers, Johannesburg.

Chennai Super Kings achieved the double — the Indian Premier League and Champions League titles — when it outplayed Eastern Cape Warriors by eight wickets in the final at the Wanderers.

The Chennai outfit, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, carried too many punches for the Warriors. First, Warriors was restricted to 128 for seven. Then CSK cantered home after Michael Hussey (51 not out) and M. Vijay put on 103 for the first wicket in 14.5 overs.

This said, it was spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Ravichandran Ashwin who turned the title clash CSK's way. The in-form Davy Jacobs, piercing the infield, had blitzed a 21-ball 34 when Ashwin consumed him on the reverse sweep. The Warriors never really recovered.

The CSK fielding was tight and the pressure seldom eased on the batsmen. Pacemen Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel were among the wickets too. Support seamer L. Balaji sent down a restrictive spell.

There was a wonderful sense of bonding in the CSK team. Crucially, there were no weak links in the side. Everyone contributed. In the end, the side was richer by a whopping $2.5 million.

Ashwin sent down four accurate overs for 16 runs while prising out two batsmen. He bowled an off-stump line and varied his trajectory cleverly. Importantly, he spun the ball both ways putting the seeds of doubt in the minds of the batsmen. The off-spinner's control in the competition was outstanding. He was rightly adjudged the Player of the Series for his 13 wickets in six matches at an average of 11.69 (economy rate: 6.51).

Ashwin has matured as a spinner. He remains unruffled even when the batsmen go after him. He sticks to his game-plan. No bowler scalped more wickets in this edition of the tournament.

A CSK cricketer also scored most runs in the competition. Vijay notched up 294 runs in six matches at 49.00 (strike rate: 122.50). While he is a technically sound batsman, Vijay can also flash the ball through the infield on both sides with measured footwork and wonderful bat-speed. And he can clear his front leg in a jiffy for his trademark lofted shots between mid-on and mid-wicket. Vijay was the Man of the Final.

Hussey, typically calm and collected, batted with sense and purpose. There is an ease about this left-hander's methods that makes batting appear a lot simpler than it actually is. The Aussie is a great asset to the CSK. Indeed, CSK had several heroes. Muralitharan's skills, undiminished by age, still make him a distinct threat. He contained and struck with his flight, turn and deception. The off-spin wizard's 12 wickets in six matches at 11.00 (economy rate: 6.51) reflected his influence.

His accuracy and spin choked the Warriors in the final. The side had four wickets left when Muralitharan sent down the final over. Warriors managed only four runs off the last six balls as Murali varied his speed and the extent of turn.

The Warriors, overly dependent on skipper Jacobs' aggressive batting at the top of the order, struggled to find momentum. The side came up short on the big stage.

On a Wanderers surface without traditional pace or bounce — the rather slow pitch suited the spinners more — the Warriors simply did not provide its two frontline spinners, Johan Botha and Nicky Boje, with sufficient runs to defend. The side was simply not in the game after making only 128. Skipper Dhoni marshalled CSK well. The right fielders were in the right place and the bowling changes worked.

CSK had overpowered Royal Challengers Bangalore in the semifinals in Durban. The aggressive Suresh Raina sparkled with an unbeaten 94. The freedom with which the left-hander wades into the bowling these days indicates his confidence. He cut, drove, pulled and lofted his way to a match-winning innings even as RCB missed pace spearhead Dale Steyn, injured while pouching a catch early in the innings.

Riding on Raina's blazing innings, CSK reached 175 after rain had reduced the contest to 17-overs-a-side. Then, left-arm paceman Bollinger and CSK's spin duo imposed themselves on the match.

In all, Raina made 203 runs in the competition at 40.60. His strike rate was an incredible 167.76.

THE SCORES

Champions League Twenty20 final, Warriors v Chennai Super Kings, New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, September 26, 2010.

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by 8 wickets.

Warriors: D. J. Jacobs lbw b Ashwin 34, A. G. Prince b Bollinger 6, C. A. Ingram c Raina b Morkel 16, J. P. Kreusch c Raina b Muralitharan 17, M. V. Boucher b Muralitharan 5, J. Botha c Anirudha b Ashwin 7, C. A. Thyssen c Anirudha b Muralitharan 25, N. Boje (not out) 8, J. Theron (not out) 2, Extras (lb-4, w-4) 8, Total (for 7 wkts) 128.

Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-45, 3-73, 4-81, 5-82, 6-111, 7-125.

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Bollinger 4-0-33-1, Morkel 4-0-31-1, Ashwin 4-0-16-2, Balaji 4-0-28-0, Muralitharan 4-0-16-3.

Chennai Super Kings: M. E. K. Hussey (not out) 51, M. Vijay c Kreusch b Boje 58, S. K. Raina c Botha b Ntini 2, M. S. Dhoni (not out) 17, Extras (lb-1, w-3) 4. Total (for 2 wkts) 132.

Fall of wickets: 1-103, 2-107.

Warriors bowling: Ntini 4-0-30-1, Tsotsobe 3-0-14-0, Theron 4-0-40-0, Botha 4-0-18-0, Boje 4-0-29-1.

Man of the Match: M. Vijay.

Player of the Series: R. Ashwin.

A Special Correspondent



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