Faf du Plessis’ magnificent 95 not out and Deepak Chahar’s impressive four-wicket haul helped Chennai Super Kings reel off their third win in a row despite blistering half centuries from Andre Russell and Pat Cummins in an Indian Premier League match in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Chennai Super Kings beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 18 runs in a match that was arguably the best of the tournament so far. The win took CSK to the top of the table with six points from four matches, while KKR slipped to sixth.
Put in to bat, CSK posted a big total of 220/3, riding on du Plessis’ 60-ball unbeaten 95 and Ruturaj Gaikwad’s 64.
Chasing a stiff target, KKR found themselves in deep trouble as they slumped to 31/5 inside five overs after a top-order collapse with Chahar wrecking havoc with eventual figures of 4/29 from his four overs.
But the two-time champions threatened to pull off one of the greatest T20 comebacks on a pitch that was easing out with dew setting in.
Russell (54 off 22 balls) and Cummins (66 not out off 34 balls) raised hopes of an improbable win for KKR but in the end they were all out for 202 in 19.1 overs.
Needing 190 runs from 15 overs, Russell first revived KKR’s chase with a blistering 54 (3x4, 6x6) before being cleaned up by Sam Curran, shouldering arms down the leg side.
But it was not over for KKR as yet. Batting at No 8, KKR pace spearhead Cummins displayed some sensational powerhitting in his 34-ball 66 not out (4x4, 6x6) but ultimately, they simply did not have enough batting left to keep the show going.
KKR vs CSK as it happened: Chennai win by 18 runs despite big fight from Russell, Cummins
Cummins smashed Curran for 30 runs with four sixes and one boundary in the 16th over to keep the run-chase alive, even as they kept losing wickets.
It was down to 20 runs with one wicket in hand in the last over. But Prasidh Krishna was run out in the first over of the final over.
Chahar was at his ominous best once again as he swung the match in CSK’s favour to leave KKR tottering. Chahar, who grabbed 4/13 against Punjab Kings, made the ball talk with his swing and variation and snapped the talented Shubman Gill for a golden duck and then had the in-form Nitish Rana (9) in the second over.
But Chahar’s biggest wicket came in the next over in the form of skipper Eoin Morgan (7) when the left-hander nicked an outswinger with MS Dhoni completing a safe catch to become the first wicketkeeper to complete 150 dismissals in IPL. In the end, that opening burst from Chahar proved to be the game-changer as Dhoni reckoned that if Kolkata had a couple of wickets in hand at the end the result could have been different.
Looking for a change of fortunes in their first match at the Wankhede, KKR opted to bowl on flat track but du Plessis blazed his way to a masterclass 95 not out after his opening partner Ruturaj Gaikwad’s impressive 64 as CSK posted 220/3.
First, it was Gaikwad who returned to form after a string of poor outings in his first three matches with a composed 42-ball knock that set it up for CSK after KKR opted to field.
Gaikwad played the role of aggressor, smashing four sixes and four boundaries, while his senior South African partner du Plessis gave the youngster the backup as the duo produced CSK’s best start of the season with an opening stand of 115.
Du Plessis came on his own after Gaikwad’s departure in the 13th over as he added 50 runs with Moeen Ali (25 off 12 balls) off just 26 balls.
CSK scored 76 runs in the final five overs with the South African at his attacking best in the final five overs. He smashed Andre Russell for three successive boundaries and raced to 90s with a six off Pat Cummins in the final over in his 60-ball knock which was studded with four sixes and nine fours.
CSK finished it off in style with Ravindra Jadeja hitting Cummins for a six as Nitish Rana palmed it over the midwicket boundary that summed up the plight of KKR on the field.
Dhoni promoted himself to No 4 and finally broke his jinx against Sunil Narine, hitting his first boundary after 64 balls against the spinner in IPL, en route to a brisk eight-ball 17.
Du Plessis had a chance to get to his century at the end, as his innings was adjudged worthy of the player of the match award.
(With PTI inputs)