Result: Mumbai Indians beat Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs to win the Champions League T20 for the second time after 2011.
In the end, it was the story of Dravid’s
life. Once again, Tendulkar
managed to overshadow his good friend and colleague in their last ever T20 game. For Dravid, it was his last ever international game, Tendulkar plans to play on in Tests. The two stalwarts didn’t contribute much to their respective teams in the final- but Mumbai Indians with their famous ‘ForSachin’ campaign, managed to want the title just a little more than the distraught Royals.
The Royals had gone unbeaten through the tournament- along with Otago, they were the surprises of CLT20 2013
. It was their first tournament, and they looked like favorites after winning 5 games in a row- already beating Mumbai Indians in the first group game. There was only one issue- they were not going to play the final at home in Jaipur. This was, in fact, a big factor. Dravid and his boys knew that they had earned their semi final match at home, even beating the erratic SuperKings easily. But Mumbai Indians
had made the Kotla in Delhi their home, miraculously sneaking into the semis after scorching the Scorchers, then making light work of T&T, keenly awaiting another their third and final contest in 4 days on the same pitch.
It was a high-scoring final. MI batted first for a change, managing only 60 of the first 10 overs- typically slow in the beginning. The gamble of playing Maxwell
ahead of Johnson turned out to be a masterstroke in hindsight, with the million dollar Australian man playing a gem of a cameo towards the end. His innings, along with Rohit’s brilliant hitting that started off the onslaught- was crucial in getting them to their highest ever CL total of 203. 143 runs were plundered in the final 10 overs, despite Praveen Tambe
’s usual economical wicket taking spell. It was always going to be a tough chase, but the way Rahane and young Samson started things off- it seemed to be a canter. They destroyed the bowling, clearing the field at will. It almost became a formality, until Harbhajan Singh and Ojha slowly stamped their experienced marks on the game.
The two spinners pulled things back for a relieved Rohit, and his decision of dropping Johnson was vindicated. The Royals missed a finisher badly- Hodge was injured before the game, out for 6 to 8 weeks. It was to be their final stroke of bad luck, with their team resembling the strongest ever replacement team to reach a final. Wickets fell in 3s, first Harbhajan with his destructive over, followed by Pollard
finishing things off at the end.
Here are a few players that were the best through a memorable CLT20, our pick of the game changers:
Man Of The Series- Praveen Tambe
Irrespective of their defeat in the final, the 42 year old defied destiny and made for the best sports story in 2013. Brought in after 4 of their players were suspended for spot fixing, the DY Patil coach spun his way into the record books, with 12 wickets and conceding ONLY five boundaries and NO sixes through the tournament. His story is what fairytales are made of, and the pudgy old leg spinner has a good year ahead of him. After all, he is yet to play first class cricket for Mumbai.
Batsman Of The Series- Ajinkya Rahane
The graceful opener of the Royals demonstrated to the selectors that he was not going to be disappointed at being dropped from the ODI side. His replacement by Rayadu seemed silly eventually, with the Bombay batsman scoring 4 half centuries in 6 games, guiding his sputtering top order through every chase. He almost did it in the final too, until a low full toss by Harbhajan did him in. He continues to remain Royals’ best batting bet after a superb two IPL years.
Bowler Of The Series- Tambe and Narine
Narine single-handedly dragged T&T to the semis, and wrecked the Mumbai middle order to give them a scare. It was classic spin at its very best- turn, dip, guile, flight and bounce. The ball that bowled Rohit was the best delivery of the tournament. In contrast, Tambe rarely gave the ball any air, rarely spinning it a great deal. He was accurate and relentless- like Rahul Sharma. His economy rate of less than 4 will go down in the historybooks.
X-factor of the Series- Rohit Sharma
The new captain with a midas touch- Rohit is now 2 on 2 for major tournaments as leader. Mumbai had won only 1 CL title in the last 5 years before this IPL. He led them to become the second team to do the ‘double’ of winning the IPL and CL in the same year. They are now the team to beat, much due to Rohit’s own batting form. In a side filled with hitters like Smith, Pollard and Maxwell- it was Rohit that bowlers feared the most. On song, Pollard was often left to play second fiddle- such is the belligerence and talent of the Mumbai cricketer. He is yet to play test cricket, but that could change very soon.
All-Star Team of CLT20 2013-
Rahane, Smith, Dhawan, Raina, Rohit ©, Samson (Wk), Doeschate, Butler, Narine, Tambe, Coulter Nile
12th man- Bravo