Bangalore, May 28: Lady luck did not shine on MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings for once as they handed over the IPL 5 trophy to Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday in Chennai. After posting a very competitive target of 191, Chennai couldn't restrict Gambhir's guns who fired home to lift their maiden IPL trophy.
Chennai were hoping against hope just to make it to the play-offs. Relying on the result of a few teams, Chennai were on the verge of crashing out but thanks to Deccan Chargers who came back strongly to register back to back wins against Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Despite being inconsistent during the league matches, Dhoni's men managed to qualify for the play-offs and ultimately the finals.
In the first Eliminator against Mumbai Indians, Dhoni's quick fifty helped Chennai seal a comfortable 38-run victory. With a win, CSK were closing in on their third consecutive IPL final but had to beat a strong Delhi Daredevils side in Eliminator 2.
Delhi were out of the tournament courtesy of their team management's tactical blunder and Murali Vijay's blistering ton which saw CSK cruise to a 86-run victory, the biggest win in IPL 5 and a sealed a place in the finals against the Knight Riders.
All odds were against Kolkata when they faced the two-time reigning champions, Chennai were also on the verge of claiming a hat-trick of IPL titles.
Chennai began their campaign with a loss to Mumbai in the opening match of season. A series of wins and losses followed which left them struggle towards the end of the league stage.
Middle-order batsmen lacked consistency and failed to fire when required. CSK's South African batsman Faf du Plessis was dropped after a run of poor performances. The right-handed batsman was key to several wins ending his campaign with three fifties and total of 398 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 130.92.
Local player S Badrinath played a vital role alongside Du Plessis but was demoted down the order to make way for Australia's Michael Hussey.
Million dollar boy Ravindra Jadeja's all-round performance did not prove worthy of the price tag except for his match-winning (48, 5/16) effort against Deccan Chargers.
The likes of skipper MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo had a mixed season with patchy performances here and there. Dhoni scored his only fifty against Mumbai and finished with 357 runs at an average of 29.75 while Bravo scored 371 runs in 16 innings.
Inclusion of Hussey in the Playing XI certainly helped Chennai strengthen its top-order batting. Hussey managed 261 runs in eight innings hitting two fifties.
Suresh Raina top-scored with 441 runs but also played the highest number of innings with a decent average of 25.94 which includes two half-centuries. Raina became the only player in IPL to have scored 400 or more runs in each of the five editions.
Chennai's play-off hero Murali Vijay, who smashed the fastest century (113) in IPL 5, was earlier dropped from the XI after failing to give a good start at the top. Despite his poor run, the century helped Chennai cruise to the finals. Vijay scored 336 in 14 innings.
Among bowlers, R Ashwin was the most impressive bowler. The spinner claimed 14 wickets at an economy rate of 6.54. Australia's Ben Hilfenhaus was a direct replacement for counterpart Doug Bollinger. The pacer made a significant impact claiming back to back man of the match awards and finshed with a best bowling average of 16.64.
All rounder Bravo claimed the highest number of wickets with 15 but proved little expensive at an economy rate of 8 per over.
South African speedster Albie Morkel had a decent season with 13 wickets in 16 matches.
Overall, CSK's season was filled with ups and downs. Prior to the play-offs, Dhoni's men never showed the same intensity like they did in the past two seasons. They hardly dominated the game even in their own den and failed to capitalise on opportunities when they could overpower the opposition.
Dhoni looked helpless when his side were on the brink of crashing out. A lucky breakthrough to the play-offs brought the old Dhoni back who stepped up along with his team to easily reach the finals.
However, it is the end of their rule after two successive IPL seasons. The former champions will try and comeback strong but there is still a long way to go.