The inaugural season of the Indian Premier League was held in 2008 with even die-hard cricket fans apprehending a disaster. But the truth was far from that. The furious pace of the matches as well as the presence of the best players in the world ensured unbridled interest. And most of all, the action-packed tournament, that virtually went down to the wire ensured its acceptability by not only the youngest section of cricket lovers, but even amongst the orthodox community.
What also appealed to the public was that rank outsiders and ‘no-hopers’ turned out some of the best performances right up to the final.
The team that caught everyone’s imagination was Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals (the cheapest team in IPL), which could boast of nothing special apart from the retired Warne himself – the rest of he players on whom teams had spent crores of rupees emerged as duds.
Ultimately, the play-offs went on to script a dream final against the MS Dhoni’s (IPL’s most expensive player at $1.5 mn) Chennai Super Kings and emerge, from plain underdogs, to indisputable winners.
On final match day, Warne won the toss and asked Chennai to bat and promptly rued the fact as the openers smashed the ball all around the park. But that was business as usual for the Royals as Chennai was not the only team that had got off to flying starts. Royal’s specialty was to bring the high-flying birds down to earth and that is exactly what they did by ensuring no single player got a 50 and the best score was that of Suresh Raina (43 runs) – Chennai was stopped at 163.
Yusuf Pathan was the best bowler with three wickets, while Tanvir and Watson grabbed one each.
The asking rate of 8.20 runs per over did not look impossible even though Kamran Akmal and NK Patel fell cheaply.
Pathan emerged the saviour, smashing 56 runs from 39 deliveries. The impact of the Royals on the tournament can be gauged from the fact that Shane Watson (474 runs and 17 wickets ) was named player of the tournament and Sohail Tanvir became the top wicket-taker with 22 scalps.
The winners cheque was Rs 4.8 crores ($1.2 million) while the runners-up received Rs 2.4 crores ($600,000).
Tournament’s top scorer was Shaun March (King’s XI Punjab) with 616 from 11 innings at an average of 68.44