The Rajasathan Royals claimed the inaugural IPL with a close victory over the Chennai Super Kings in the final last night in Mumbai.
Set 164 for victory, Shane Warnes team, got there off the final ball with 3 wickets in hand, to give the team that finished top of the log victory in a game that both sides will feel was there’s for the taking at some stage or other.
In the end though the best team did win, the best team for the duration of the series, and not just on the night. It was Yusuf Pathan who was the man who made the difference, first with the ball when he picked up 3 wickets for 22 runs from his 4 overs and then crucially with the bat, scoring 56 from just 39 balls, with 4 sixes and 3 fours, before being brilliantly run out by Raina.
From a South African perspective, it was unfortunate that Graeme Smith missed the final due to injury, having had an outstanding series with the bat. In general the South Africans have disappointed during this first IPL, but the ones who have performed have done so with much credit, and in so doing where part of the teams in the final, with Albie Morkel and Ntini turning out for the Wessels coached Chennai Super Kings. Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher were the other South African to perform during the series.
Ntini had a slow start to his IPL career, but when he got going he proved to be a real force with the ball for Chennai, forming one of the best opening bowling partnerships of the series with Gony. In the final Ntini was the most economical bowler in the match going for just 21 runs in his 4 overs, including a maiden. The highlight for him will have been his hat trick in the round robin series.
Morkel has had a fine all round series, contributing with both bat and ball, showing that he is a genuine all rounder, and set to be a star on the international stage. In the final he finished with 2/25 from his 4 overs and scored 16 of 13 balls with the bat, including 2 sixes. He ended just behind Gony as Channai’s second best wicket taker and made contributions throughout with the bat, with an innings of 71 in the round robin stage falling just shy of single handedly gaining Channai a victory. Morkels big hitting has made him a fan favourite in India, and he ended the series as the biggest six hitter, with a distance of 124m.
The inagrual IPL series has been a success and there is no doubt that the future looks bright for this format. Next season the South Africans will hope to make more of an impact all round, but for Smith, Morkel, Ntini, Pollock and Boucher, this was a job will done.