On a day when Bangalore Royal Challengers successfully chased down a target of 204 against Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders should have done better than succumbing to a 55-run loss against Chennai Super Kings. After all, there was no devil in the pitch at Eden Gardens and the home team were on a high following two successive wins in the tournament.
As such, the loss has to be attributed to some poor batsmanship, and possibly a sense of complacency. In stark contrast, Chennai recovered from a precarious 55 for 3 to post a challenging score of 164. MS Dhoni (66*) and Subramanian Badrinath (43*) combined brilliantly, blending caution and aggression in the right proportions, to see to it that the bowlers had a reasonable total to defend.
Chennai had some good fortune early on with the ball as a fierce hit from the in-form Brad Hodge (0) landed straight into the hands of R. Ashwin in the very first over of the innings bowled by Albie Morkel. And from thereon, Chennai made sure that they capitalized on the great start.
They were aided to quite an extent by the Kolkata batsmen, who played some atrocious slogs in between some flourishing strokes. A case in point was Manoj Tiwari (8), who hit a couple of spanking boundaries only to throw it away, playing across the line. Wriddhiman Saha’s exit was no different. He raced to 22, which included five wonderfully timed boundaries before he fell prey to some smart captaincy by Dhoni. The Indian skipper left the field open on the on side, and looking to play across the line, Saha was cleaned up by Laxmipathy Balaji.
At 34 for 3, Kolkata were in a similar position to Chennai earlier in the innings. But, instead of looking to rebuild, they continued to go for the big shots and perished one after the other. To be fair to Owais Shah, he got a good outgoing delivery from Balaji and couldn’t do much better than edging it behind the wickets while on 5. However, the rest, including skipper Sourav Ganguly (11 from 20 balls) succumbed to the pressure and the game sadly meandered to a one-sided result.
Due credit needs to be given to all the Chennai bowlers for sticking to their guns. Balaji (2/9) was highly impressive at the top while Justin Kemp (3/12) picked up crucial wickets in the middle overs.
The win though wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Dhoni and Badrinath. The duo joined forces when Chennai were struggling and the Kolkata bowlers were in complete control of the situation. Ishant Sharma had knocked over Matthew Hayden for 1. Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina also fell after getting starts. But, Dhoni came up with the special act expected of him.
After playing himself in, he unleashed an array of lofted, bottom hand strokes that spoiled the figures of Shane Bond, who was sensational at the start, as well as Ishant and Laxmi Shukla. Murali Kartik was the only one who escaped without punishment. At the other end, Badrinath too joined in the act with a mighty six towards the end.
On another day, 164 might not have been enough. But, considering that Kolkata were committed to falter, it proved to be more than handy.
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