Twenty overs each could not separate the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Rajasthan Royals, and neither could the Super Over. Both teams ended with the scores level, twice, but it was the Royals who picked up the victory, a now-that-is-why-we-love-T20-cricket win, thanks to their boundary count being a tad better than KKR.
The Super Over was brought out of its slumber for the first time in IPL 2014, and in a game which no team really deserved to lose, it was the Royals that head back to India with a smile on their faces after a nail-biter of a contest in Abu Dhabi.
Chasing a target of 153, after RR finished on 152 for five, courtesy a half-century from Ajinkya Rahane (72), KKR finally got an innings that troubled the scorers from skipper Gautam Gambhir (45), with Shakib Al Hasan and James Faulkner nearly stealing a win for their respective sides only to see the Kolkata franchise end their innings on 152 for eight to cue the Super Over.
From that blink-and-you-just-might-miss-the-drama-filled-mini-battle, RR emerged victorious, just about, managing the 11 runs to eke out a massive win.
In the first innings of the Super Over, KKR lost a wicket, off a run out, in the very first ball, with Suryakumar Yadav having to walk off the field. Faulkner kept his cool in the next couple of deliveries, conceding just a single each, before Manish Pandey struck a six as the Knight Riders settled on 11.
Twelve to win might seem easy enough, but not when you have to get those off Sunil parsimony-is-my-middle-name Narine, it never is a foregone conclusion. There were three of singles, a double and a muscled boundary in the first five deliveries, leaving RR needing three runs for an outright win, and two for a victory courtesy the boundary rule.
Shane Watson and Steven Smith, aware of the situation, played smart cricket, with the latter dropping and running a quickfire double to cue the wild celebrations from the Royals camp.
Gambhir was the cynosure at the start of the second innings, and the left-hander, reeling from scores of 0, 0, 0 and 1 set his knock rolling along by scoring five runs from three balls in the first four. He then struck his first boundary of IPL 2014 in his fifth game of the season, finding the gap through the offside off Kane Richardson, before finally settling in to play an innings of note.
At the other end, though, Manvinder Bisla, playing his first game of the season, replacing the off-colour Yusuf Pathan, who was dropped for the first time by KKR, struggled to make an impression, with his forgettable nine-ball three-run stay ended by Richardson, who induced an outside edge to Karun Nair in the slips.
Jacques Kallis was lucky to survive early after being dismissed by Shane Watson off a no-ball, but the South African would not make the Royals captain pay too much for his mistake, with the experienced right-hander holing out to Steven Smith at long-off off Pravin Tambe (two for 31) after a 17-ball 13.
The required run rate was quite steep at Kallis' dismissal, with KKR needing 103 runs from the final 11 overs, putting the onus on Gambhir to anchor the innings with the likes of Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan and Robin Uthappa, a lethal finisher on his day, to play around the skipper.
Pandey (19, 11b, 1x4, 1x6) put on 36 runs in 25 balls with Gambhir, before Tambe struck a big blow trapping Pandey in front of the wicket, a delivery after the batsman had smashed the leggie for a six and a four.
The equation was still gettable at 68 from the 42 balls, but the pressure on KKR increased in the next over with Gambhir (45, 44b, 4x4, 0x6) perishing to former KKR man Rajat Bhatia (one for 29) as the left-hander failed to clear the square-leg boundary.
RR bowled decently in the next couple of overs to keep the game very much in the balance with KKR needing 42 from the final 24 deliveries - Shakib and Yadav looking to win it with the bat. Yadav has been quite unorthodox, yet effective in his few opportunities this season, and the right-hander stepped up when needed, smashing a six and a boundary off Watson to make his side the favourites at 27 from the final three overs, which was further reduced to 16 from 12 courtesy Shakib's guile.
Faulkner, on his 24th birthday, dismissed Yadav (31, 19b, 3x4, 1x6) off the first ball of the penultimate over, before the left-armer turned the game on its head with two more wickets in two balls - castling both Robin Uthappa and R Vinay Kumar for golden ducks.
Following the remarkable over from Faulkner (2-0-11-3), KKR were asked to get 12 from the final over from Kane Richardson for a victory, with the entire burden of those runs on Shakib.
A boundary, from Shakib, off the first ball was followed by the run out of Piyush Chawla, a wide, a single, a dot and a two, meant KKR needed three to win with Shakib (29 n.o., 18b, 3x4) on strike.
It was the inevitable double, meaning it was time for a Super Over, which also went right to the end, before RR prevailed.
The last few games in IPL 2014 have been low scorers and while the Royals put up a decent score it was nowhere near we-are-in-for-a-six-fest now total.
Rahane was the lynchpin of the innings, nearly carrying his bat through, with the likes of Sanju Samson, Shane Watson and Steven Smith chipping in when required.
Karun Nair (1, 5b, 0x4, 0x6) again opened with Rahane, but the youngster could not make his mark, going for a slog off his state captain Vinay Kumar, but only managing to see his leg stump disturbed.
Time was ripe for the Royals' two key Indian players to build a big partnership and for six and a bit overs Rahane and Samson looked like doing just that going at a decent rate, while not really looking troubled, even if there were a couple of iffy shots here and there - Samson's four boundary over off Morne Morkel a particular highlight.
The two players put on 41 runs together, before Shakib (one for 23), back in the KKR side, got the crucial breakthrough, with Samson (20, 19b, 4x4) playing one onto his stumps.
Watson came in, set a solid base, before looking to increase the run rate, which the Australian duly did in the company of Rahane. The partnership of 64 from just 45 deliveries was crucial to the Royals taking the total beyond 150, and it might have been more had Watson (33, 24b, 5x4) not misjudged a double and got himself run out in the 16th over.
But, Smith (19, 11b, 2x4) did come in, after Stuart Binny's golden duck, to play a typically busy little innings to take the total to 152 as Rahane (72, 59b, 6x4, 1x6) fell three balls short of carrying his bat through the innings.