Gambhir, Kallis star in Kolkata victory
Gautam Gambhir powered the Kolkata Knight Riders to a five-wicket win against the defending champions, the Chennai Super Kings, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Monday.
The hosts won the toss, elected to bat and scored 139 for five in their twenty overs.
Gambhir directed and led the chase expertly, scoring 63 off 52 deliveries with six fours and a six as Kolkata reached 140 for five in 19.4 overs.
He was the senior partner in a 70-run stand for the second wicket in 9.4 overs with Jacques Kallis, during which he rotated the strike superbly.
When Dwayne Bravo deceived him with a slower off-cutter in the penultimate over by trapping him in front, there was almost a twist in the tale, with the visitors needing 16 runs off eleven balls to get home.
But Debabrata Das’s cameo took them to victory. He scored eleven runs off four deliveries, including a splendid on-drive off Ravi Ashwin in the final over when three runs were required off only three balls.
With this victory, Kolkata have firmly entrenched themselves in second position on the IPL log.
Albie Morkel, with 1-24, and Bravo, with 2-27, were the pick of the Chennai attack.
The Kolkata bowling attack, spearheaded by Kallis, deserves a share of the victory spoils, as they did well to restrict Chennai to 139.
The hosts managed a mere eight fours and two sixes, and were scratchy in the second half of the innings, as they went 47 deliveries without scoring a boundary.
They lost their way from the eleventh to the fifteenth over, scoring only 24 runs and losing the wickets of Suresh Raina for 44, and Bravo, for 12.
Kallis captured 2-21 in four overs and removed both Bravo and Raina.
Raina hit four fours and a six in his 34-ball stay, but after his departure, MS Dhoni struggled to accelerate.
He hit an undefeated 34 off 30 deliveries with two fours, but it was a patchy innings which lacked the usual boundary-hitting quality.
Mystery spinner Sunil Narine finished with 1-24 in four overs, while Iqbal Abdulla conceded 18 runs in three useful overs.
The in-form Gambhir guided the Kolkata Knight Riders early on.
The visitors suffered a setback when Brendon McCullum was deceived by Ashwin early on and skied a delivery to Shadab Jakati at mid-off, falling for just two.
Gambhir and Kallis completed a comfortable fifty-run partnership off just 6.1 overs to power the visitors to 64 for one after nine overs.
Gambhir used his feet expertly against the slower bowlers and was at his free-flowing best. He seldom looked in trouble, and rarely used a high-risk approach to reach the boundary ropes.
Gambhir and Kallis rotated the strike well in their 70-run partnership before Kallis tried to cut Bravo past cover and got a bottom-edge to it.
He was caught behind for 26 as Kolkata slipped to 84 for two in the thirteenth over.
That same over almost produced a run-out when Gambhir at the non-striker’s end went down the pitch and was sent back by Manoj Tiwary.
Raina’s throw just missed the target with Gambhir well out of his ground with his score on 44.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: Subramaniam Badrinath, Michael Hussey, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, You Mahesh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shadab Jakati.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS: Brendon McCullum (wk), Gautum Gambhir (capt), L Shukla, Jacques Kallis, M Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, M Tiwary, R Bhatia, DB Das, Sunil Narine, Brett Lee, Iqbal Abdulla