After the disappointment of missing out on winning the 2009 edition, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) quickly brushed that off and made it to the final two years later – to take on their nemesis Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who were looking to make it two titles in a row. RCB got off to the worst possible start in the tournament, having won just one of their opening five matches. But in the latter part of the tournament, turned things around as they ended the group stage top of the table.
CSK on the other hand too had a similar start to the season but just like RCB managed to find their feet later on and incidentally, finished just behind their neighbours in the table. CSK had beaten RCB two out of three times en route to the final and considering they were playing on home territory at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, they were favourites to win.
However, RCB could not be discounted as Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli were the top run-getters in the tournament and posed a formidable challenge. CSK on the other hand had a bowling attack – consisting of R Ashwin, Doug Bollinger, Shadab Jakati and Albie Morkel – who had bowled extremely well as a unit throughout the tournament. Safe to say, it was going to be a good contest between bat and ball.
CSK went into the match with an unchanged XI from their previous match which was incidentally against RCB in Qualifier 1. RCB on the other hand went in with an extra bowler with slow left-arm spinner Syed Mohammad coming into the side in place of Mohammad Kaif. Considering that the Chepauk surface was going to be conducive to spin bowling, it certainly seemed to be the right move.
MS Dhoni, who already had the reputation of being an astute captain in limited-overs cricket, having helped India clinch the T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup by then, had elected to bat after winning the toss. Runs on the board in a big final was perhaps the right way to go.
Murali Vijay and Michael Hussey had not really clicked as an opening partnership till then. In their 13 innings together before this they scored 322 runs at a moderate strike-rate of 103.2. The pressure was on them as it was a big final. The pull over mid-wicket in the second over by Vijay off Sreenath Aravind is just what he needed to get things going. Hussey too joined the party and the duo more or less got a boundary off every over after that. They treated the spinners a little more circumspectly, but they too weren’t spared. CSK had reached 94 without loss after 10 overs and things were looking ominous for RCB.
Syed almost had Vijay caught and bowled off his own bowling in the very next over, just two balls after he had brought up his fifty off just 29 deliveries. Vijay completely cut loose after that. Hussey at the other end was playing a perfect sheet-anchor’s role. He brought up his fifty off 40 balls and CSK were nearing the 150-run mark with just 14 overs bowled. After a few more big hits, Hussey perished for 63 off 45 with the score on 159 after 15.5 overs.
Dhoni promoted himself to No. 3 and suddenly the next two overs didn’t see a single boundary. CSK were still on course to get 200-plus, but RCB were looking to pull things back. With three overs left, Daniel Vettori handed the ball to Gayle. Quick yorkers seemed to be the way to go, but Gayle bowled a short one at Dhoni and the CSK skipper did not hesitate in pulling the ball over deep square leg. The pressure eased on CSK a bit. Dhoni also finished the over with another big six and CSK had 16 in that over.
The penultimate over turned out to be a turning point as Aravind got rid of Vijay (95 off 52) and Dhoni (22 off 13) off consecutive deliveries to give RCB an outside chance of restricting CSK to under 200. Suresh Raina however managed to clobber a six over extra cover to take them within two runs from 200. After giving away just a single off the first three deliveries, Gayle dismissed Morkel (2) and Raina (8) off consecutive deliveries but Dwayne Bravo smashed his international team-mate down the ground for a six to help finish at 205 for 5.
With 200-plus to chase, RCB needed a solid start. While Tillakaratne Dilshan and Gayle had formed a formidable partnership for a huge chunk of the tournament, it was up to Gayle and Mayank Agarwal to take RCB to glory in the final. In the two matches they had batted together before the final, they had scored 143 runs at a scintillating strike-rate of 168.2. However, RCB could not have hoped for a worse start as their leading run-getter was caught behind for a duck off the fourth ball of the innings off Ashwin. While there was delight in the CSK camp, they knew that Kohli and then AB de Villiers were two more key wickets they had to get in order to completely take charge of the match.
De Villiers was in in the third over after Agarwal was cleaned up by Ashwin for 10. The runs started to flow more easily and RCB had rounded off the powerplay at 47 for 2. Not a perfect start but they still had two of their main batsmen at the crease. That didn’t last long as Jakati trapped de Villiers for 18. A huge blow for RCB, who needed the partnership to flourish and take them as close to the target as possible. Kohli was going to be key.
Luke Pomersbach (2), Kohli (35), Daniel Vettori (0) and Abhimanyu Mithun fell in quick succession to leave RCB reeling at 92 for 7 after 13 overs. Saurabh Tiwary was the only recognized batsman at the crease and more importantly, the required run-rate had crept up to a near-impossible 16.28. With just Zaheer Khan, Syed and Aravind left, the game was as good as gone for RCB. Their only saving grace was the fact that they did not get bowled out and in the end finished at 147 for 8, handing CSK their second title in a row by 58 runs. Tiwary fought a lone battle and remained unbeaten on 42.
RCB would go on to lose yet another final that year – the 2011 Champions League T20 – again at Chepauk
CSK went on to win just one more IPL title after this – in 2018 following their return from a two-year ban
RCB are yet to win an IPL title