Chennai Super Kings’ woeful run – in general and at home – continued against Kolkata Knight Riders. First came a poor, and rather confused, batting performance. And then, with Kolkata chasing a paltry 140 for the win, there was a glaring lack of penetration in the bowling. Kolkata did show signs of nerves towards the end, losing a couple of wickets. But Debabrata Das wrapped things up with a four-ball 11 to keep Kolkata in second spot on the table.
Chennai won the toss, batted first, and opened their innings with a new partner for Faf du Plessis – Michael Hussey. But neither hung around for too long. Du Plessis edged a Brett Lee delivery to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, while Hussey was caught short of his crease after a brilliant bit of fielding from Lee.
Was it a bit of panic in the Chennai ranks after that as they tinkered with the batting order – sending Dwayne Bravo in at four, Ravindra Jadeja at six and Subramanian Badrinath pushed out altogether? One way or the other, the Chennai batting effort failed to gather momentum at any stage even though Suresh Raina had one of his rare good outings for the ongoing season. When he reached 34, Raina also reached the 2,000-run milestone in the Indian Premier League – the first to do so.
But wickets fell at regular intervals and Chennai failed to capitalise on the lesser Kolkata bowlers like Rajat Bhatia, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Iqbal Abdulla. Between them, the three bowled seven overs for just 47 runs. Then, with the hugely impressive Sunil Narine and the experienced Lee bowling the last five overs, the scoring dried up completely. Jacques Kallis pitched in with two wickets as Chennai managed only 139 for five. They scored 74 from their first 10 overs and then only a further 65. Unusual in the IPL, especially with wickets in hand.
The target was low enough for Kolkata to pace the reply carefully and bat largely without taking risks. Gautam Gambhir, the captain, had another super day, and Kolkata was always in pole position to take the two points on offer. He slammed a six and six boundaries in his 52-ball 63 and with Kallis for company, took Kolkata to the doorstep of victory.
But Gambhir’s dismissal with 16 still needed off 11 balls did create a flutter and finally got the partisan crowd a little excited. Yusuf Pathan fell immediately after, and suddenly, it was game on. Das then came to the party with two well-placed boundaries in his cameo to seal the win. The correct result, with Kolkata on a high right now, and nothing going right for the defending champions.