Tuesday's match was not the first time that the Kolkata Knight Riders lost to Chennai Super Kings by two runs. Without home boy Sourav Ganguly, KKR went down in a thrilling chase at Chepauk in 2011 but showed glimpses of a combative spirit that’s sparked many a close battle since then.
From that day on, it has been a rivalry looked forward to on many fronts. A thrilling IPL final followed by a Champions League T20 final remembered for a Suresh Raina century and Sunil Narine’s ban, the match-up isn’t just about the quality of Indian players in both sides, but also an extension of the rivalry between the former and current centres of power of Indian cricket.
In the 12 games since 2011, including the Champions League T20, CSK registered their seventh win on Tuesday. Barring one IPL game in Ranchi last year, most games have stretched till the last over. Some even till the last delivery.
It goes on to show how closely matched the sides are. After a point when the analysis of opposition bowlers and batsmen reaches the saturation point, things such as fielding begin to weigh in.By having Brendon McCullum at point and the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja inside the ring and on their toes, MS Dhoni showed on Tuesday that how quickly the runs-to-balls equation can change.
KKR stopped taking singles and lost Andre Russell in a messy run out as a result.
“We did drop two catches, but the fielding was outstanding. Russell’s run out was important for us. Brendon McCullum was lightning on the field. In the middle overs, we did put pressure on them so they couldn’t rotate freely,” said Dhoni after the match.
It wasn’t just about the fielding. Conceding nine extra deliveries through wides against a side of CSK’s quality is almost criminal. To add to KKR’s problems is the BCCI judgment on Sunil Narine. Irrespective of these factors though, the match on Thursday should be another close affair. At least their history suggests so.