Chennai Super Kings registered their fifth straight win as they beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 34 runs in the first game of IPL 7 on Indian soil on Friday night. After the game was reduced to 17 overs-a-side due to rain, CSK’s batsmen put on view a great show to help the team post a formidable 148 for 3 at Ranchi’s JSCA International Stadium Complex.
The KKR openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, opening for the first time in the tournament, began their chase well, taking three boundaries off the second over bowled by medium pacer Ishwar Pandey. However, Gambhir’s foolish run-out for six in the next over set back KKR big time and they never recovered from there. Uthappa got an inside edge while going for a pull shot; the ball reached MS Dhoni behind the stumps and the CSK captain threw the ball to bowler Ben Hilfenhaus in a flash. The Australian hit the stumps with Gambhir a few yards short of the crease.
Jacques Kallis (4) fell one over later to offspinner R Ashwin before left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja removed Manish Pandey (1) and Shakib Al Hasan (0) off back-to-back deliveries to throw KKR completely out of the contest. Jadeja went on to take the wickets of Suryakumar Yadav (8) and Uthappa, who played some attractive shots during his 38-ball 47, to finish with magical figures of 4 for 12. Yusuf Pathan (41 off 29 balls) hit a few lusty blows towards the end but they were a bit too late in the day as KKR could only go as far as 114 for 9, suffering their fourth defeat in six matches.
Earlier, on a viciously turning pitch, Brendon McCullum played a dominating innings. KKR opened the bowling with the left-arm spin of Shakib and the brave Dwayne Smith picked up two fours despite the Bangladeshi allrounder getting big turn. Encouraged by the big spin, KKR captain Gambhir brought on mystery spinner Sunil Narine and the West Indian bowled four dot balls to further corroborate the tricky nature of the pitch.
Shakib continued in the third over and sent Smith back for 16 after conceding a six over the long-off boundary. The ball pitched and straightened, trapping the West Indian in front of the wickets.
Suresh Raina joined McCullum and over the next two overs bowled by Narine and Shakib, things were pretty much quiet for CSK. However, the introduction of legspinner Piyush Chawla seemed to do Raina a lot of good as the left-hander fetched two boundaries in the sixth over.
After first six overs of spin, Gambhir employed medium pacer Vinay Kumar and off the last ball of the seventh over which was quite short, McCullum got a six over midwicket and with that shot the CSK innings hit top gear.
McCullum and Raina attacked at both ends and by the time Raina fell for a 25-ball 31 as Shakib’s second wicket picking out Suryakumar Yadav at long-on, the third-wicket 70-run stand had put CSK on course for a daunting total.
McCullum reached his fifty off 32 balls with a six off Kallis in the 12th over. The New Zealand captain was a beneficiary of plenty of ineffective short-pitched bowling from the opposition bowlers.
After McCullum’s departure for 56 off 40 balls (5x4s, 2x6s), Dhoni (22 off 17 balls) and Jadeja (17 off 10 balls) played some audacious strokes in the last couple of overs to put the odds in CSK’s favour.
Brief score: CSK 148 for 3 in 17 overs (McCullum 56; Shakib 2/25) beat KKR 114/9 (Uthappa 47; MoM Jadeja 4/12) by 34 runs