R Ashwin’s fine spell of spin bowling with the new ball tripped the Kolkata Knight Riders at Chepauk on Tuesday and all but torpedoed their chances of making it to the semi-finals of IPL III.
The Chennai Super Kings won the match by nine wickets and are now the frontrunners in the race for the remaining three semi-final spots.
“If we play cricket like this we don't deserve to be in the semi-finals,” Knight Riders' captain, Sourav Ganguly, had said after his side lost their previous match. Tuesday’s performance did not make them any more deserving of a place in the last four.
Now, even wins in their last two matches may not be enough for Ganguly and his boys, given their poor net run rate. Against the Super Kings, the Knights only managed 139 for eight and that too with a batting line-up bolstered by the inclusion of David Hussey, who took the fourth foreigner’s slot replacing Ajantha Mendis.
Suresh Raina and M Vijay hit quick fifties during the chase. While the Knight Riders bolstered their batting, the Super Kings decided to add more teeth to their spin attack. Muttiah Muralitharan returned as he, Ashwin and Shadab Jakati played together for the first time in IPL III.
Ashwin had bowled well with the new ball against the Deccan Chargers in their previous match, giving away 13 from four overs and picking up two wickets. On Tuesday, Ashwin took the new ball against the explosive top order of the Knight Riders and finished his four overs in one spell that cost only 16 and yielded the wickets of Gayle, McCullum and Hussey. A sequence that began with Gayle getting stumped, ended with the off-spinner on a hattrick — bowling with a slip and a leg slip to Angelo Mathews.
With Doug Bollinger seeing off Ganguly, courtesy a dodgy leg before decision, the Super Kings had their opponents on the mat. And that is where the Knight Riders remained.