Kolkata Knight Riders played the conditions well but a calamitous batting effort in the first half of the game that added up to only 119 runs meant that their best efforts wouldn't be enough against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday (April 20) afternoon at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Ravindra Jadeja, with bat and ball, was the star for Chennai as they sealed a four-wicket win to jump to third place in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 points table. Kolkata remained at seventh spot.
In their last game, chasing a target of 158 against Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata were at 106 for 2 in 13 overs but scored 47 for 6 in the next seven overs to lose the match by four runs. If that was a throwback to the Kolkata of the first three seasons when they routinely self-destructed, it got worse against Chennai. (All the stats from the match, here)
With Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan getting a few boundaries early on after Kolkata opted to bat, they scored at close to nine runs an over, reaching 44 for no loss after five overs. But the good work was undone in the next few overs, partly because of the spectacular ineptitude of the Kolkata batsmen, and partly because of some superb Chennai fielding. (Also see: The match in pics)
Gambhir was caught by a diving Mike Hussey at third man, Jacques Kallis was run out by a direct hit by S Badrinath from point, Jadeja ran back to make a tricky, swirling offer from Eoin Morgan look easy, and Dwayne Bravo did well to chase down the ball to midwicket off his own bowling and send in a quick throw to run Pathan, who froze during the second run, out.
From 46 for no loss, Kolkata had sunk to 55 for 4. That was the cue for MS Dhoni to turn on the squeeze - R Ashwin and Jadeja hadn't even started operating yet. The only bits of counter-attack came from Debabrata Das and Sunil Narine, both hitting two sixes each to take the total past 100; Jadeja picked up 3 for 20 and Ashwin 2 for 21.
Chennai had a surprise in store as Ashwin walked out to open the innings with Hussey. Was it just another of Dhoni's instinctive calls that, often, come off or just something to shock Kolkata with?
One way or the other, the decision didn't add up to much as Ashwin fell in the fifth over, swinging Narine to Sachithra Senanayeke at midwicket after having struck two boundaries.
Gambhir chose to bowl Senanayeke out by the eighth over, his figures reading 1 for 18 having accounted for Murali Vijay, while Narine bowled only two of his overs at the same stage and ended his spell later with figures of 1 for 20.
On the slow pitch, Gambhir introduced Pathan in the ninth over and Pathan had an effect straightaway, sending Suresh Raina back caught at long-on by Narine.
It was match on, clearly. And at the end of ten overs, Chennai had only 48 for 3. That became 54 for 4 when Morgan flew in from extra cover and lobbed the ball on to the stumps with Dhoni out of his crease.
The requirement for Chennai soon came down to 50 from five overs and Kallis beat Badrinath's attempted sweep to hit leg stump and suddenly, things were beginning to go a bit pear shaped for Chennai. The balance seemed to change in the 16th and 17th overs, with Hussey and Jadeja slamming sixes off Kallis and L Balaji respectively, but if that provided a twist in the tale, there was yet another twist by the end of the 17th over when Hussey swung Balaji straight to Pathan at the deep square-leg boundary.
But, despite doing all they could, Kolkata clearly had too few runs to play with.
Jadeja took a six off Narine in the 18th over and then plundered 15 runs in the penultimate over, bowled by Kallis, with a little help from Bravo - Pathan even dropping a regulation chance off Jadeja to make things simpler for Chennai.
And Jadeja, doing his growing reputation no harm, completed the job with a six off the first ball off the last over from Pathan.