Manish Pandey played an absolute blinder as Kolkata Knight Riders held their nerves to beat a spirited Kings XI Punjab by three wickets in an exhilarting summit clash to win the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League here today.
This was KKR's second IPL trophy, the only team apart from Chennai Super Kings to achieve the feat.
Needing 200 to win, Piyush Chawla hit the most important 13 runs of his life as he pulled Mitchell Johnson for a six off the last delivery of the penultimate over before slashing Parvinder Awana over point to run a victory lap as his delirious teammates joined him.
If Wriddhiman Saha's 115 off 55 balls was a pure joy to watch, Pandey's 94 off 50 balls was better than the best as he almost singlehandedly won the match for the Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise. Not to forget the four sixes hit by Yusuf Pathan (36) which also was important in the final context of the match.
It was probably the most keenly contested among the seven IPL finals as the fortunes fluctuated big time. While KXIP co-owner Preity Zinta found it difficult to supress her nervous energy, Shah Rukh sat on the VIP stand like monk. The only time there was a reaction was when Chawla hit the final shot as he took his daughter Suhana in his lap.
Robin Uthappa (5) finally had an off-day as his uppish drive was smartly snapped by Akshar Patel at cover off Mitchell Johnson's delivery.
Gambhir and Manish Pandey hit a flurry boundaries as KKR reached 59 for one at the end of the Powerplay.
The KKR skipper looked in good nick with 23 off 16 balls before young leggie Karanveer Singh got him caught in the deep off David Miller as the left-hander tried to give the charge by dancing down the track.
Pandey in the meantime got the first six off the KKR innings hitting Karanveer over extra-cover.
Pandey continued playing a freeflowing innings in company of Yusuf Pathan who hit a couple of big sixes over long on and extra cover off Karanveer Singh. He followed with two huge sixes off Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Pathan's bravado ended when he tried to hit Karanveer for his fifth six only to be caught by Glenn Maxwell at the boundary line but KKR were very much in the game.
However Pandey's lusty blows had kept them in the game as they needed only 58 off the