By Pradipta Tapadar
Kolkata: Dwayne Bravo struck a last ball six as titleholders Chennai Super Kings scraped past the Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in a nail-biting Indian Premier League contest at the Eden Gardens here Monday to brighten their chances of a play-off place.
Replying to the Knight Riders’ 158/6, the Super Kings needed five off the last ball. But West Indies all-rounder Dwyane Bravo (11 not out; 7 b, 1×6) held his nerves to dispatch a low full toss from Rajat Bhatia over the long on fence as the visitors reached 160/5 and silence descended at the Eden Gardens.
The Super Kings had a cracker of a start, with man of the match Mike Hussey (56; 39 b, 4×4, 4×6) and Murali Vijay (36; 24 b, 5×4, 1×6) mercilessly belting the Knight Riders’ bowlers during a 97-run opening wicket stand off only 9.2 overs.
The floodgates opened as early as in the second over that saw Knight Riders pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji conceding 25 runs with both batsmen making a feast of fours and sixes.
However, mystery spinner Sunil Narine threatened to bring the Knights back into the game by plotting the dismissal of Hussey and Vijay within a space of three balls in the 10th over.
When Suresh Raina (8) got run out in the 13th over, the Super Kings needed 49 from 46 balls. With the ball turning and keeping low and slow, Faf Du Plessis (13; 16b) and M.S. Dhoni (28; 21 b, 3×4, 1×6) found it difficult to get the boundaries, and instead concentrated on singles.
Plessis then holed out to Manoj Tiwary, and the Super Kings were left to score 32 of 23 deliveries. But Dhoni then took charge, punishing Marchant de lange in the penultimate over with a sequence of 4-4-6.
Eighteen came of the over, and the Super Kings needed 9 in the last over.
However, Bhatia skittled Dhoni’s stumps with a leg cutter off the second delivery, and kept a tight leash on the batsmen till the penultimate ball.
But Bravo’s six ensured the Super Kings had the last laugh.
Earlier, put in to bat, Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir blasted his eighth half century of the tournament, but the home side failed to follow up on an explosive start.
Gambhir (62; 43 b, 4×6, 3×6) and Brendon McCullum (37; 29 b, 4X4, 1X6) launched the Knights’ innings on a high rampaging a 69-ball 99, but loss of quick wickets led to a drop in the run rate as the Super Kings were set an asking rate of 7.95 runs per over.
Gambhir, whose blade failed to fire in the game against Mumbai Indians two days back, was back among the runs, clobbering the bowlers to all ends of the ground.
The Super Kings finally broke the partnership in the 12th over when McCullum got out looking for a second run. The New Zealander’s departure triggered a collapse as Gambhir returned in the very next over giving the charge to Shadab Jakati, but only managing an inside edge to the pad before the ball kissed the stumps.
Jacques Kallis (4) never got going, Yusuf Pathan’s (11; 8b, 1×6) only significant contribution was a six over long on, while Manoj Tiwary (12)also disappointed, as the scoring rate slowed down. In the end, it was left to Debabrata Das (19 not out; 10b, 2×4, 1×6) to play a cameo that helped the Knight Riders cross the 150-mark.