IPL 7 review: Knight Riders win second title

Here's the final play from the IPL championship match, where the Kolkatta Knight Riders claimed their 2nd IPL title in 3 years.

In a championship that came down to the final over, Kolkata claimed its second IPL title in three seasons, defeating Kings XI Punjab by three wickets.

With the IPL 7 season under wraps, we take a deeper look at the major stories of the tournament.

MVP: Robin Uthappa, Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata’s championship season couldn’t have happened without the efforts of the league’s top run scorer, Robin Uthappa. After a slow start to the campaign, the Knight Riders strung together nine consecutive wins en route to IPL 7 glory. Uthappa starred in the Knight Riders’ first of two playoff wins vs. Punjab, scoring a team-leading 42 runs. Although Kolkata’s opening batsman struggled in the final, his consistent scoring and ability to set the pace of the game spearheaded Kolkata’s comeback and is the main reason why the Knight Riders reign supreme in IPL 7.

Certainly, one would be remiss not to highlight the efforts of Kolkata’s Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey for providing outstanding supporting offence along the way, including Pandey’s outstanding 94 in the final. Yet, Kolkata would not be champions without Uthappa’s consistent efforts. It truly was a remarkable season for Uthappa, his first year with the team after coming over from the now-defunct Pune Warriors. Now with his fourth team, Uthappa has captured his first IPL championship, and was the best player on the league’s best team.

Player auction has profound impact

The 2014 IPL player auction had a significant impact on personnel across the league, and teams immediately felt the ramifications of the process. One has to look no further than this year’s two finalists: champion Kolkata acquired the core of its team through the player auction, including star batsmen Uthappa and Pandey, as well as all-rounder Jacques Kallis. Meanwhile, Punjab picked up arguably its top bowler in Mitchell Johnson, as well as key batsmen Virender Sehwag and Glenn Maxwell. In a league with only eight teams, the player auction dramatically affected roster stability.

Biggest surprise: Kings XI Punjab

Punjab had not made it to the IPL playoffs since 2008 — the league’s inaugural season. With low expectations coming into this season, Punjab took the IPL by surprise, posting a league-best 11-3 record in the regular season. The team started 5-0 as Glenn Maxwell scored at will against opposing bowling attacks. Meanwhile, bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Sandeep Sharma and Akshar Patel took crucial wickets consistently throughout the season.

Although Kings XI Punjab’s season ended in consecutive defeats to Kolkata, the team made major strides and showed the rest of the league that its reign of mediocrity is over. With a lineup that has depth across the roster, Punjab should contend for seasons to come.

Biggest disappointment: Royal Challengers Bangalore

Bangalore, led by superstar batsmen Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle, struggled mightily this season, posting a 5-9 record. The team dropped its final three matches of the season and was marred by inconsistent performances from Gayle, who disappointed after leading the league in scoring in 2011 and 2012.

Although Bangalore missed the playoffs last season, Kohli entered the season at the top of his game and looked to spearhead a team that, on paper, looked like an offensive dynamo. Unfortunately for Bangalore, Kohli’s world-class form didn’t transfer from the international game to the IPL 7 season and he finished with the league’s 19th-best run-scoring total.

Bangalore had an incredibly talented roster that struggled to put together complete matches, and its turbulent mid-season cost the Challengers a playoff berth.

Delhi’s struggles continues

After back-to-back last-place finishes, the Delhi Daredevils are in need of a serious revamp, and must acquire top-level talent or else they run the risk of becoming the league’s equivalent of the Edmonton Oilers. It’s not as if the Daredevils are devoid of talent; they boast one of the world’s top batsman in English international Kevin Pietersen. Quite simply, the Daredevils have put together a string of lethargic efforts for two consecutive seasons, and management has to take notice.

Saha’s fantastic final all for naught

Kings XI Punjab’s Wriddhiman Saha was spectacular in the IPL 7 final, scoring 115 not out on 55 balls. However, Saha’s performance of a lifetime wasn’t enough to steer Punjab to an IPL title, as Kolkata successfully chased down a 199/4 total in a three-wicket win. The 30-year-old became the first player to ever score a century in an IPL final, an impressive accomplishment that will feel all too bittersweet.

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