‘It doesn’t get better than this’

2010-09-27 00:00

AS if winning the IPL wasn’t enough, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Superkings completed the double by scooping the Champions League crown with an emphatic, eight-wicket win over the Warriors last night at the Wanderers.

“It doesn’t get better than this,” a delighted Dhoni said before picking up the loot.

“It’s the last time we are playing as a unit, so we really couldn’t ask for more.

“Stephen Fleming [coach] created an atmosphere where the younger players could thrive. I am also very pleased with the way our senior players performed in the knockout stages,” he added.

Chasing a meagre 129 to win the lot — and the $2,5 million that comes with it — the Chennai top order barely needed to get out of third gear, as openers Mike Hussey (51 not out) and Murali Vijay (58) notched up a decisive 103 stand for the first wicket.

The Warriors, red-hot the night before against the South Australian Redbacks, were not at the races against the expensively-assembled Superkings.

“We are disappointed that we couldn’t get over the edge this time. But we are happy with the way we played during the tournament,” a tired looking Davey Jacobs said.

“We lost twice to them, but they deserved to win the competition. Their spinners really tied us down and we couldn’t get the momentum going.”

Jacobs started like a house on fire, but his blaze was as short-lived as it was solo. Where the Port Elizabeth franchise had been clinical against the Redbacks, they doubted themselves against Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s highly motivated side.

Jacobs carved back-to-back fours in the first over to bring the Wanderers crowd to life, and he looked set to continue his startling run in the competition.

The Warriors lost the uncomfortable-looking Ashwell Prince early again. Indeed, the Test icon may best be served conserving his energies for the longer vigils. While Jacobs was sailing along on one end, Prince looked rather misplaced.

His departure brought in Colin Ingram, and he and skipper Jacobs saw the Warriors to 44 for one after five overs.

It had the promise of much, but then they hadn’t reckoned with Chennai’s peculiar pair of spin practitioners. Between them, Ravi Ashwin and the peerless Muttiah Muralitharan collected five for 32 in eight priceless overs.

Ashwin was named player of the tournament for the torment he caused — and his 13 wickets — while Muralitharan only added to his legend.

The web they weaved simply crippled the Warriors, as a succession of free-hitting batsmen suddenly looked like they were trudging through treacle.

“We banked on our spinners throughout the tournament, but the line they bowled tonight was crucial,” Dhoni said of his ace twirlers.

Jacobs, after looking in full control of the match, had a brain freeze and was trapped in front as he attempted a terribly desperate reverse hit off Ashwin. There was no need for it, and the Warriors lost their mojo with it.

Ingram was out hitting Morkel into the stunning Highveld night sky, as the Warriors stuttered to 66 after 10 overs.

Jonathan Kreusch limped along, and Mark Boucher resembled a man poking about in the dark after a power cut for 11 balls, until Muralitharan showed him the light — back to the dugout.

Craig Thyssen muscled a maximum and a few boundaries, but the run drought was terminal.

Nicky Bojé couldn’t repeat his happy hitting from the night before, and the miserly Muralitharan gave nothing away in the final over.

Vijay and Hussey started slowly, but the Indian in particular warmed to his task as the Warriors couldn’t find the much-needed breakthrough.

Vijay did offer a chance, but neither Boucher nor slip Kreusch moved. It really was one for Boucher to pouch, but the chance was gone as quickly as it had come.

Vijay didn’t look back, slamming two sixes and a half dozen fours on his way to snatching the ‘Golden Bat’ award from Jacobs’ grasp, ending on 294 runs for the tournament.

On the other end, Hussey just ticked things over, save for the occasional dollop of class via a searing cover drive.

“We said one of us had to bat through to make it easier, and I was pretty chuffed to be there at the finish,” said the man known as ‘Mr Cricket’.

Vijay and Suresh Raina both fell in trying to hurry things up, but it did not matter.

Perhaps fittingly, Dhoni was there to read the last rites.

With 13 needed off the last two overs, the Indian icon smeared Theron over his head for six, before marmalising a boundary to the long-on boundary for four.

With one needed, the field came in. Dhoni pounced, and drilled the final nail in the coffin to spark a wave of yellow jerseys sprinting on to the field.


Warriors innings

DJ Jacobs lbw b Ashwin34

AG Prince b Bollinger6

CA Ingram c Raina b Morkel16

JP Kreusch c Raina b Muralitharan17

MV Boucher b Muralitharan5

J Botha c Anirudha b Ashwin7

CA Thyssen c Anirudha b Muralitharan25

N Bojé not out8

J Theron not out2

Extras (lb 4, w 4)8

Total (7 wickets; 20 overs)128

Fow: 1-39, 2-45, 3-73, 4-81, 5-82, 6-111, 7-125

Bowling: DE Bollinger 4 0 33 1, JA Morkel 4 0 31 1,

R Ashwin 4 0 16 2 (1w), L Balaji 4 0 28 0 (1w), M Muralitharan 4 0 16 3

Chennai Super Kings innings

MEK Hussey not out51

M Vijay c Kreusch b Boje58

SK Raina c Botha b Ntini2

MS Dhoni not out17

Extras (lb 1, w 3)4

Total (2 wickets; 19 overs)132

Fow:1-103, 2-107

Bowling: M Ntini 4 0 30 1 (1w), LL Tsotsobe 3 0 14 0, J Theron 4 0 40 0 (2w), J Botha 4 0 18 0, N Boje 4 0 29 1

Toss: Warriors, who chose to bat

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and RE Koertzen

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