Skipper Gautam Gambhir played another match-winning innings as Kolkata Knight Riders stamped their authority over Chennai Super Kings, beating them by five wickets and staying one place below table-toppers Delhi Daredevils in the points table.
Gambhir (63 off 52) led KKR's chase of 140, driving, cutting and pulling any loose delivery offered with utter disdain. He and Jacques Kallis gauged the slow nature of the Chepauk wicket well and took the visitors close to the hosts’ score after they lost the early wicket of Brendon McCullum (2), whose lofted stroke off R Ashwin couldn’t clear Shadab Jakati at mid-off.
With 56 needed off 46, MS Dhoni brought back Dwayne Bravo for his second over and the West Indies allrounder struck immediately with Kallis’s wicket. The South African made 26 off 31, but his wicket gave CSK a glimmer of hope before Gambhir drove Bravo off the back-foot through covers for a four and followed it up with a powerful pull for another boundary to end the 15th over.
But Bravo got his revenge when he trapped Gambhir plumb in front in the 19th over, with KKR still needing 16 off 11. But a full toss off the legs was all that Debabrata Das needed to get off the blocks with a four. Das then settled the KKR nerves by depositing R Ashwin for a four at deep mid-wicket.
With their fifth loss in ten matches, Chennai remain at the fourth place in the points table.
Earlier, the CSK batsmen had no answers to the craft of Kallis and the guile of Sunil Narine, who never allowed the opposition batsmen to get off the hook. Kallis troubled the batsmen with his offcutters, slow bouncers and seam-up deliveries. His 2 for 21 was instrumental in keeping CSK down to a low score after the home side decided to bat first. Narine too played his part excellently, mixing his off-spinners with the leg-cutters and straighter ones. And despite conceding 11 runs in the 20th over, his figures of 1 for 24 was second best after Kallis.
KKR tasted early success when the in-form Faf du Plessis (3) inside edged a Brett Lee delivery to keeper Brendon McCullum. Mike Hussey, who played his first game of this edition, had conjured 18 off 19 before his mix-up with Suresh Raina cost him his wicket. Dwayne Bravo (12) used his powerful wrists to send Iqbal Abdulla over the deep mid-wicket fence for a maximum, but his innings was cut short when Abdulla took a good running catch to send him back off Kallis.
Raina too was going strong, hitting four boundaries and a six clobbered off the front foot off Brett Lee, before Kallis had him caught by Yusuf Pathan. With his 44 off 34, Raina became the first batsman in the IPL to go past 2000 runs. Ravindra Jadeja’s struggle at the wicket ended when he was caught in the deep by Das off Narine. Dhoni did try to propel the Chennai innings at the end, but his 34 off 30 could only take the home side to 139 for 5.