Manish Pandey played a blinder as Kolkata Knight Riders held their nerve to beat a spirited Kings XI Punjab by three wickets in an exhilarating summit clash and win the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, in Bangalore, on Sunday.
This is Kolkata's second IPL trophy. They join Chennai Super Kings as the only teams to win the tournament twice.
Needing 200 to win the final, Piyush Chawla hit the most important 13 runs of his life, pulling Mitchell Johnson for a six off the last delivery of the penultimate over, before slashing Parvinder Awana over point, and running a victory lap as his delirious teammates joined him.
If Wriddhiman Saha's 115 off 55 balls was pure joy to watch, Pandey's 94 off 50 balls was better than the best. He almost singlehandedly won the match for the Shah Rukh Khan-co-owned franchise.
It was probably the most keenly-contested among the seven IPL finals as the fortunes fluctuated big time.
While Kings co-owner Preity Zinta found it difficult to suppress her nervous energy, Shah Rukh sat in the VIP stand like monk. The only time there was a reaction was when Chawla hit the final shot. He immediately embraced his daughter, Suhana.
Robin Uthappa (5) had an off-day. 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 had 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 free-flowing innings in company of Yusuf Pathan, who hit a couple of big sixes over long-on and extra cover off Karanveer Singh. He followed them with two huge sixes off Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Pathan's bravado ended when he tried to hit Karanveer for his fifth six and was caught by Glenn Maxwell on the boundary line, but by then KKR were very much in charge.
Pandey's lusty blows kept them in the game as they needed only 58 off the last six overs. Shakib Al Hasan (12) was run-out as George Bailey was again inspirational in the field.
Ryan ten Doeschate (2) was Karanveer's third victim, David Miller taking the catch at the long-on boundary.
Pandey, who was hitting sixes and boundaries at will, was finally out when he tried to hit Karanveer against the turn and gave a dolly to Bailey.
Earlier, Saha played a career-defining innings; his magnificent century propelled kings to a competitive 199 for four after being put in to bat.
Saha walked into the record books by being the first player to score a century in the IPL final. He was unbeaten on 115 off 55 balls, including 10 fours and eight sixes.
Saha and Vohra were swift yet brutal in their shot-making as they added a whopping 129 off 12 overs after Kings XI Punjab looked in a spot at 58 for two after the front 10.
The back-10 got them as many as 141 runs thanks to the brilliant counter-attack by the Bengal stumper.
Vohra, a surprise retention at the start of the season, scored 67 off 52 balls, including six fours and two sixes. He was lucky on 62 as Robin Uthappa collected the ball in-front of the stumps while trying to stump him. But he was out trying to slog Chawla.
The day belonged to Saha, who was in a mood to punish the spinners but played some equally good shot against the pacers including a hook shot off Morne Morkel.
Sunil Narine, who decided to give Test cricket a miss, was clobbered for 46 runs in his four overs.
Saha completed his century off 49 balls, hitting Narine over long-on for a six which Suryakumar yadav nearly got his hand. Virender Sehwag's (7) fans, who were expecting another swashbuckling innings were left disappointed as the veteran didn't execute the pull-shot off a well-directed bouncer from Umesh. The resultant skier was taken by Gautam Gambhir standing at mid-off.
Then there was a battle of wits between the skippers, which Gambhir won hands down. Rival skipper Bailey promoted himself up the order which prompted Gambhir to bring in Narine. The first delivery was a big off-break as Bailey tried to play an ugly paddle shot shuffling across the line. He missed it and the leg-stump was uprooted.
Vohra on the other hand slog-swept Piyush Chawla over deep mid-wicket for a six while Saha also got into the groove with some singles. KKR initially bowled a tight line and the slowness of the pitch helped them before Saha cut loose.
Image: Manish Pandey