Kolkata Knight Riders had three matches of footage and a skipper from Chennai to learn from on how to play on a slow-turning Chepauk wicket. But its top-order batsmen, in their infinite wisdom, decided that playing across the line was a prudent strategy.
The result: the visitors were reduced to 108 for nine and Chennai Super Kings chased it down with ease, to go to the top of the table, at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Tuesday. This was Super Kings’ fourth win in as many matches at home in IPL-12.
Poor shot selection
Asked to take strike, KKR lost its way right in the first over. Deepak Chahar trapped Chris Lynn leg-before when the batsman tried to pull a length delivery. Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa then fell to similar shots, both caught while pulling the seamer and finding the fielder.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik looked comfortable during his brief stay, but the first time he attempted to play across resulted in his downfall. He hit Imran Tahir to short mid-wicket where Harbhajan Singh pulled off a smart, reflex catch.
On a wicket where the ball was holding up, the top-order had imploded and the visitors were tottering at 29 for four after the PowerPlay, with Chahar picking up three.
Tahir then foxed Shubman Gill with a googly, the batsman over-balancing and Dhoni doing the rest.
It could have been worse for KKR had Harbhajan held on to a skier inside the ring when Andre Russell top-edged a slog sweep off the South African leg-spinner when he was on eight.
However, the off-spinner completely misjudged the catch and the ball fell behind him.
It needed Russell’s experience and form to bring some respectability to the total, though this innings was not anything like the previous swashbuckling efforts this season.
The West Indian made an unbeaten 50 off 44 balls (5×4, 3×6) but struggled to find his timing and also seemed to have an issue with his left wrist, leaving him wincing in pain and hampering his batting.
By the 17th over, Russell was running out of partners and had to farm the strike before hitting Scott Kuggeleijn for 14 runs in the last over (15 in total), with one six and two fours, the last one a brutal hit straight back past the bowler to reach a well-deserved half-century.
Spinners impress again
As in the previous games, the spinners continued the good work. Harbhajan led the charge once again with a brilliant spell, returning figures of two for 15 in his four overs. Imran Tahir (two for 21) and Ravindra Jadeja (one for 17) provided him solid support.
During Super Kings’ chase, Faf du Plessis saw the team home with an unbeaten 43. Shane Watson, Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu chipped in with useful contributions before throwing their wickets away.