Kochi: Brendon McCullum made a severe dent into the below-par D/L-adjusted target set by Chennai Super Kings, and handy contributions from Parthiv Patel and Brad Hodge then gave Kochi Tuskers their second win in a row. It was the impact of the clean hitting from McCullum that shook Chennai up, and Parthiv and Hodge took Kochi home with some smart cricket.
It was in compete contrast to how almost every Chennai batsman, bar M Vijay, struggled to find timing on a pitch that seemed to have retained some moisture. The Kochi bowlers used the track well, getting the ball to grip, but it was the ground fielding that stifled Chennai despite the fact the inside edges regularly found the boundary and mis-hits hardly ever reached the deep fielders.
McCullum then made batting looked ridiculously easy. Statements aren't made more emphatically than the way he treated Albie Morkel like a spinner at the start of the chase. He charged straight at Morkel in the first over and deposited him into the sightscreen. In Morkel's second, he went over cow corner. Disdain was getting defined. Doug Bollinger got a sample too when he did as much as pitch short of a length.
Mahela Jayawardene departed after hitting R Ashwin for a four and a six, but nothing was keeping McCullum from hitting balls towards the sightscreen, as Shadab Jakati realised. In the ninth over, Tim Southee also made the mistake of straying into McCullum's pads, and was hit for two boundaries as Kochi attained a rate of nine an over.
In between, Parthiv played a lovely cover-drive for four, but also got one inside-edge to run down for four to give Chennai a taste of their own medicine. McCullum wanted to finish things off fast, but miscued one off R Ashwin to leave the others 46 to get off 39. Parthiv was to make the equation simpler with a slog-swept six off Jakati, but he too mis-hit a pull to leave 26 to get off the last four overs.
Hodge and Ravindra Jadeja made sure there no jitters in the home stretch. Chennai's innings, though, never escaped regular and mild jitters. It rained almost throughout the first nine overs, play was interrupted for more than an hour after that due to a heavy shower, and Chennai remained sluggish throughout. Except for a flowing 28 off 18 from Vijay, none of the Chennai batsmen adjusted well to the pace of the pitch. Even Suresh Raina's half-century, and credit must go to him for getting that many on such a day, featured as many edges and mis-hits as clean shots.
Others had nothing to show for their efforts. Early movement consumed Michael Hussey, Vijay's first loose shot accounted for his wicket, and desperation at not being able to hit freely took care of S Badrinath. The decisive moment came when MS Dhoni and Raina came together. RP Singh, Hussey's wicket to his name already, welcomed the India captain with an over full of yorkers and a bouncer, conceding just two; that left Chennai on 109 for 3 after 15. In that spell of play, heave after heave followed, pad after pad was hit, and not even a 14-run final over threatened Kochi.