Chennai Super Kings consistently wins the big moments, finds the right men for the occasion, possesses several match-winners.
Not for nothing is CSK a serial winner in the IPL. In this edition, the rollicking side already has one foot in the play-offs after its seventh win.
The five-wicket away victory, chasing 162, with two deliveries remaining over Kolkata Knight Riders in an engrossing duel at the packed and electrifying Eden Gardens here on Sunday was well earned by CSK.
In the first half of the match, Imran Tahir bowled with heart and craft to scalp four. There was flight, dip, deception and two-way turn in his bowling.
CSK’s catching in the outfield was outstanding. The vibrant du Plessis held four; a sprinting, diving forward catch at long-off to dismiss Robin Uthappa being sensational.
Then Suresh Raina held centre-stage during the chase even as the KKR bowlers made inroads. When Piyush Chawla pitched short, he cut. When the leg-spinner gave more air, he stepped down to loft the ball straight for a six.
The southpaw pulled, flicked, ran hard and built partnerships during his match-winner unbeaten 58.
The unbroken 41-run sixth-wicket association in 24 deliveries between two the two left-handers, Raina and a rampant Ravindra Jadeja [the latter scored 31 of those], took CSK past the line with two deliveries remaining.
The final onslaught was perfectly timed after Chawla, mixing his googlies with leg-spin and top-spinners, had prised out Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav and M.S. Dhoni played around a delivery turning into him from the parsimonious Sunil Narine.
In the first half of the match, Man-of-the-Match Tahir dared the batsmen with his flight and revolutions after CSK elected to field.
The duel between Tahir and the big-hitting Andre Russell was exhilarating. Getting the powerful West Indies to mistime a delivery spinning away from him represented CSK’s best chance of dismissing Russell early.
Russell loves to hit the ball between long-on and mid-wicket but to accomplish this against Tahir’s leg-spin, he had to hit against the turn. The West Indian backed himself to strike the ball over long on for the maximum, hitting against turn.
The wily Tahir had laid a trap. The next ball was quicker and a wee bit shorter and had a little more bounce even as it spun away from Russell. The West Indian went for the on-side blow again, the ball struck the top portion of the bat and substitute Dhruv Shorey flung himself forward to hold a terrific catch at long-on.
Shardul Thakur caught the eye with his skiddy pace, control and yorkers.
The heavy hitting Lynn (82) impressed with his incredible bat-speed. He employs his willow like a sledge-hammer, bludgeons the ball. Lynn’s straight hitting and back-foot play — whether hooking or creasing room for inside-out strokes — was exhilarating.
But CSK had the final say.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Chris Lynn c Thakur b Tahir 82 (51b, 7×4, 6×6), Sunil Narine c du Plessis b Santner 2 (7b), Nitish Rana c du Plessis b Tahir 21 (24b, 3×4), Robin Uthappa c du Plessis b Tahir 0 (1b), Dinesh Karthik c du Plessis b Thakur 18 (14b, 2×4), Andre Russell c sub b Tahir 10 (4b, 1×4, 1×6), Shubman Gill c Jadeja b Thakur 15 (20b), Piyush Chawla (not out) 4 (5b), Kuldeep Yadav run out 0 (0b); Extras (b-1, w-8): 9; Total (for eight wkts. in 20 overs): 161.
FALL OF WICKETS
1-38 (Narine, 4.5 overs), 2-79 (Rana, 10.2), 3-80 (Uthappa, 10.4), 4-122 (Lynn, 14.1), 5-132 (Russell, 14.5), 6-150 (Karthik, 17.2), 7-161 (Gill, 19.5), 8-161 (Kuldeep, 19.6).
SUPER KINGS BOWLING
Chahar 4-0-36-0, Thakur 4-0-18-2, Santner 4-0-30-1, Jadeja 4-0-49-0, Tahir 4-0-27-4.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Shane Watson lbw b Gurney 6 (7b, 1×4), Faf du Plessis b Narine 24 (16b, 5×4), Suresh Raina (not out) 58 (42b, 7×4, 1×6), Ambati Rayudu c Uthappa b Chawla 5 (11b), Kedar Jadhav lbw Chawla 20 (12b, 3×4. 1×6), M.S. Dhoni lbw Narine 16 (13b, 1×6), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 31 (17b, 5×4); Extras (w-2): 2; Total (for five wkts. in 19.4 overs): 162.
FALL OF WICKETS
1-29 (Watson, 3.1), 2-44 (du Plessis, 5.3), 3-61 (Rayudu, 9.1), 4-81 (Jadhav, 11.1), 5-121 (Dhoni, 15.4).
KNIGHT RIDERS BOWLING
Prasidh Krishna 4-0-30-0, Gurney 4-0-37-1, Russell 1-0-16-0, Narine 4-1-19-2, Kuldeep 3-0-28-0, Chawla 3.4-0-32-2.
Toss: Chennai Super Kings
Man-of-the-match: Imran Tahir
CSK won by five wkts. with two balls remaining.