Kolkata hold nerve, beat Chennai in cliff-hanger
Riding on an impressive show with both bat and ball, Gautam Gambhir-led Kolkata Knight Riders managed to register an emphatic victory over Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings at their Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday by seven wickets. Robin Uthapa smashed unbeaten 80 while Russell hit 59, despite early fall of crucial three wickets. Both batsmen took the team to chase 166-run target and ended up making 169/3 with one ball left.
Earlier in the first innings , a stunning four-wicket haul by veteran Brad Hogg enabled Kolkata Knight Riders restrict a marauding Chennai Super Kings to 165 for nine in their return leg clash of the IPL.
Put into bat, CSK were off to an explosive start, courtesy Brendon McCullum’s 12 ball 32 (3x4s, 3x6s) and Faf du Plessis’ 11-ball 20 (5x4s), but the 44-year-old chinaman bowler, who had come in as replacement for Sunil Narine, lived up to the faith by returning with magnificent figures of for for 29.
Hogg claimed the prized scalps of McCullum and Du Plessis in his first over and completed his spell with the wickets of Ravindra Jadeja (24 from 30 balls; 1x4, 1x6) and Pawan Negi (27 from 13 balls; 4x4s, 1x6) to restrict CSK to 165.
With McCullum looking ominous at a strike rate that almost touched 300, CSK had stepped on the gas very early after the first ball dismissal of Dwayne Smith, who was brilliantly caught by a diving Ryan ten Doeschate at point off Pat Cummins.
There were raining sixes and fours all over the park with McCullum at his murderous best as CSK were 52 for 2 after Gambhir bowled his two pacers Cummins and Yadav in tandem.
He brought in Chawla in the fifth over with Du Plessis on strike and the South African matched his explosive Kiwi partner by smashing the leggie for three boundaries as KKR bowlers looked ordinary without Narine, who was ruled out off the tournament after being called for suspected bowling action for a second time.
T20 format’s prized score of 200 was looking inevitable for CSK but a 44-year-old Australian turned around the fortunes for KKR striking twice in his first over.
Hogg dismissed McCullum LBW with his first ball after the latter tried to go for an expansive pull but failed to read the bounce and then in the fifth ball Du Plessis stepped out only to be stumped by wicket-keeper Robin Uthappa.
All pumped up, KKR employed four fielders -- slip, leg slip, silly point and forward short leg -- around CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the next delivery.
Dhoni (1) could survive just four balls before being castled by a Chawla wrong one as KKR bounced back in the game, even as CSK were 72 for five after 7 overs. Bravo and Jadeja ensured that there was no further damage as they batted sensibly putting on 50-run together in as many balls.
After the duo’s dismissals, Negi played a fine cameo when he smashed a wayward Cummins (1/54) for three boundaries in an over before Hogg once again made his presence felt.
Earlier, Dhoni handed Ronit More an IPL debut bringing him in place of Ishwar Pandey while left-arm spinner Negi replaced the injured Ravichandran Ashwin.
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