On a pitch that gradually slowed down, the Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Kolkata Knight Riders were a shadow of their triumphant selves chasing the 158 set by Chennai Super Kings after a late onslaught by captain MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo.
They lost wickets to regulation deliveries and were 51/5 in the ninth over before a marauding partnership between Andre Russell and Ryan Ten Doeschate brought them back into the match. KKR won by three wickets with six balls to spare.
For the IPL champions, both Jacques Kallis and Robin Uthappa missed out with injuries. The usually belligerent captain Gautam Gambhir — he won the toss and chose to field — was caught at mid-on off Delhi team mate Ashish Nehra early.
Wickets fell regularly as Nehra dealt the blows. Dutchman Ten Doeschate and Jamaican Russell attacked from the onset, going after R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja before taking the medium pace of Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey to all corners of the field.
Russell, who hit a 22-ball fifty, was finally yorked by Nehra for 58 with KKR needing 27 off 21 balls but the momentum was with the batting side.
Dhoni made 35 off 20 balls, including an on-driven six off the last ball, to help Chennai put up a competitive total. KKR’s bowling success was spinner Sunil Narine who claimed astounding figures of 1/9 in his quota of four overs while the combined figures of the spinners was 4/51. They had bowled 11 overs together. Contrast this with the pace battery, Umesh Yadav and Pat Cummins went wicketless and conceded 92 runs off 8 overs. The unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership between Dhoni and Bravo was worth 71.
Narine was accorded so much respect the 18th over he bowled went for only one run. Even Yusuf Pathan cut off the scoring and took the wicket of the dangerous Brendon McCullum. The pacers, however, were taken to the cleaners. Dwayne Smith and McCullum got the team off to a rollicking start, finding the fence with powerful drives and cuts.
Chennai had rushed to 77/2 from 10 before they got stuck.
At 111/4 off 16 overs, they were heading for a mediocre score. All that changed when Dhoni and Bravo started to get their act going. The 17th over, bowled by Pat Cummins, went for 21 runs and also saw the first six of the innings, an upper-cut off a short delivery, hit by Bravo. Dhoni also came into his own, pulling, cutting and lofting it straight to inject much-needed aggession.