A superb innings from young England batsman Sam Billings (56 off 23) and some late heroics from Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, saw the Chennai Super Kings through to a thrilling last-over victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday night in Chennai.
Earlier Andre Russell unleashed his full array of strokes in a powerhouse stay at the crease that in the end came to nothing in a match that was well worthy of the IPL’s return to Chennai.
Here are our three things learned:
Kolkata has some clean hitters
After just two matches it’s clear, surprise package the Knight Riders clearly possess two of the cleanest hitters in the tournament in Andre Russell and Robin Uthappa.
Russell smashed 11 huge sixes in his 88 off just 36 balls (SR: 244.44) including the biggest maximum so far in the tournament – a 105-metre slog over the grandstand at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium which forced the umpires to quickly send for another ball.
He would have scored even more if England all-rounder Tom Curran had not wasted the three balls in the final over – a trio of deliveries that Russell could have used to propel himself past 100.
The Jamaican was dropped by Jadeja on the boundary when he was 47 – a miss that proved very costly as Russell launched a recovery that saw Kolkata go from 89 for five to set a challenging total of 202 – and saw the 29-year-old grab the orange cap for the current highest run-scorer in the tournament.
Uthappa only stayed for 16 balls, before stupidly running himself out, but he also launched three blasts into the crowd including a 90-metre hoik over long leg.
Super Kings’ spinners can shine
It’s just two games in but Chennai clearly have an impressive arsenal of spinners who take wickets and keep the scoring rate down.
MS Dhoni, who usually swaps his bowlers superbly, will be wishing he used his spinners more and pacemen less, especially Dwayne Bravo who went for an unusually high 50 off his three overs including seven sixes.
The Chennai skipper will be greatly regretting not giving Harbhajan Singh another over or two after the veteran spinner only went for 11 off his tidy two overs including the wicket of in-form Sunil Narine.
Jadeja (19 for one off two overs) also could have been used more.
Pakistan spinner Imran Tahir also got through his four overs for 26 runs without a wicket.
Best of the pacemen was Shane Watson who took two for 39 off four cagey overs, bagging the wickets of Nitish Rana (caught Dhoni) and Dinesh Karthik (LBW).
Watson is far from past it
Supposedly no longer at his best a few years now, the aging all-rounder has shown he has still got it both with the bat and ball.
His two wickets with the ball made him the top wicket-taker after five matches with four.
Then with the bat he got Chennai off to a perfect start picking up 16 off the first over, including a majestic driven six straight back over the bowler’s head.
He then was gifted a five by a disastrous piece of fielding by the Knight Riders to take him to 21 off just 7 balls.
He continued at the same pace scoring 42 off 19 balls (including three sixes) before, much to his frustration, holing out off Curran to Rinku Singh in cow-corner – the young Englishman giving the Aussie a big verbal send-off that may get some closer attention by the match referee, Sir Richie Richardson.
MS Dhoni clearly has faith in the 36-year-old and his faith is being richly rewarded at this stage of the tournament.
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