The fan following seems to be getting localised. There were lot more yellow shirts in the stands on Saturday and the Kolkata mascots and cheerleaders were booed and shown the thumbs down sign. The lunch package in the press box though had Bengali sweets, possibly keeping in mind the reporters from Kolkata, but the visiting Kolkata IPL team got no such hospitality from Chennai losing by nine wickets.
Chasing 147, Chennai's Matthew Hayden scored an unbeaten 70 and M.S. Dhoni remained not out on 43 as they added 86 for second wicket and took Chennai home after Parthiv Patel had stitched a partnership of 61 for the first wicket with Hayden. Chennai scored their third win from as many matches when Dhoni hit Murali Kartik for a six over long-on. The most heartening thing for the skipper, apart from the fact that he defeated a team led by Sourav Ganguly, was the way his bowlers performed.
Considered their weakest link, the Chennai bowlers stuck to their task on a pitch on which the ball did not come on to the bat.
Mutthiah Muralitharan did not get a wicket but he did the most damage by stopping the run flow from one end. He gave away only 12 runs from his four overs and this had a telling effect on the Kolkata total.
The Lankan spinner mixed deliveries with ingenuity that is characteristic of him. The eyes lit up, Murali hypnotised the batsmen and had them guessing by sometimes hurrying the ball through and on other occasions flighting it. He bowled 15 dot balls as his doosras and the sharp turners forced the batsmen to defend.
Muralitharan's economic spell meant that Kolkata, who opted to bat, had to take chances against the other bowlers. And Jacob Oram made the most of it by picking up three wickets including that of Ricky Ponting dismissed first ball. Earlier, Chennai had an ominous start to the much-awaited tie. They lost the toss and in the late afternoon, captain Sourav Ganguly opted to bat and turned the heat on as they got off to a great start. Ganguly began in his trademark style with a delicate four through point. Brendon McCullum had no appetite for classy shots as he decided to repeat his performance by ripping Manpreet Gony apart with a four-six and a four. But he soon got a leading edge and was caught in the covers off Oram.
From there on, it was a Muralitharan show.