Promising Shubman Gill smashed his maiden IPL half-century while Sunil Narine produced an all-around performance to guide Kolkata Knight Riders to a comfortable six-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings on Thursday. Nitish Rana's lower back spasm gave Gill a chance to bat at the no. 4 position and the Under-19 World Cup winning batsman grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring a top-class unbeaten 57 off 36 balls (6x4s, 2x6s) to power KKR home. Gill shared an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 83 runs from 36 balls with skipper Dinesh Karthik (45 not out off 18; 2x4s) as the duo sealed the chase with 14 balls to spare to take KKR (10 points from nine matches) to the third spot ahead of Kings XI Punjab on net run rate. During Chennai's batting, KKR spinners impressed with Narine leading from the front before Mahendra Singh Dhoni's unbeaten 43 propped CSK's total to 177/5 after Karthik opted to chase.
Narine returned with impressive figures of 2 for 20, while Piyush Chawla grabbed 2 for 35 as the duo bowled 22 dot balls in the middle overs to restrict CSK to their second-lowest total after they had crossed 200-plus four times this season.
Narine also chipped in with the bat with a quickfire 32 off 20 balls as their fielding also hurt CSK big time with Ravindra Jadeja, one of the safest fielders, dropping the left-hander twice while he was on six.
Chris Lynn gave KKR a flying start smashing Lungi Ngidi for consecutive sixes but the young South African pacer won the battle, dismissing the Aussie with a faint inside-edge.
In their chase of a seemingly par target of 178, KKR suddenly found themselves in a spot of bother with KM Asif reducing the hosts to 40 for 2 inside five overs as Robin Uthappa was dismissed for six.
But then came in Gill and the talented 18-year-old made it look easy with his classical array of strokes all around the Eden Gardens.
Midway into their chase, the battle was evenly poised with KKR on 90 for 3, the same as CSK after 10 overs.
Rinku Singh (16) too got out cheaply and failed to make use of the opportunity in absence of the injured Rana but that hardly mattered as the day belonged to Gill.
KKR turned the game in 15th over bowled by Asif, who gave away 21 runs to reduce the equation to 37 from 30 balls.
Gill smashed Asif for two sixes on both sides off the pitch before skipper Karthik ended it on a high with a third six.
Earlier, Dhoni's knock came off just 25 balls that included four sixes and one four as the skipper was also involved in a 54-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja.
It was then left to 'captain cool' Dhoni to finish CSK's innings on a high after they scored just 31 runs in the five overs from 10-15.
Young CSK pacer Shivam Mavi also impressed with his pace and bounce but went wicketless giving away 21 runs from three overs.
CSK scored the bulk of their runs against veteran Australian left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson who leaked 51 runs from his four overs.
Against the batting firepower of CSK, it was a tidy KKR bowling that was on display.
In a battle between two ageing Aussies, it was Shane Watson (36) who impressed up front against KKR pace spearhead Johnson who leaked 10 and 19 runs from his first two overs.
But thankfully for KKR, youngster Mavi put the brakes from the other end showing superb control with his pace and was not afraid to pitch the ball short against CSK's opening duo of Watson and Faf du Plessis (27).
Mavi just gave away 11 runs from his two overs as CSK were in a spot of bother before Watson helped the visitors score 57 for 1 in the powerplay.
But the good thing for KKR was that they managed to get a breakthrough inside the powerplay with Chawla dismissing Du Plessis.
Chawla delivered with his first ball cleaning up the South African skipper with a googly, and after that CSK batsmen struggled against the KKR spin trio with Narine standing tall.
Karthik used Narine wisely, first introducing him in the powerplay and then gave two in the middle overs.
Narine's 11th and 15th overs were crucial as the Trinidadian dismissed his 'bunny' Watson (36) for the seventh time in T20 matches and also removed Rayudu (21), the two leading run-getters of CSK.
Suresh Raina (31) also failed to score big before as he was dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav.
Raina, however, achieved a personal milestone becoming the leading run-getter with 4776 runs in IPL history, surpassing Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli (4767).