Kolkata: There were serious concerns about impending showers when the two captains walked out for the toss under grey skies, but the actual storm was played out on the field as Chennai Super Kings got the better of Kolkata Knight Riders in a low-scorer highlighted by sloppy batting and manic running between the wickets. Cricket-wise it was a match to forget, but the drama made for another scrappy thriller as Chennai overhauled a target of 120 with four wickets and five deliveries remaining.
Neither side will look back at game 26 of IPL 6 with much satisfaction where the batting is concerned. From 46 for 0, the hosts lost nine wickets for 61 runs to finish on 119 for 9 in 20 overs, a total their spinners fought valiantly to defend. Chennai were not helped by the silly decision to send R Ashwin up the order to start the chase, and proceeded to lose five more wickets before Ravindra Jadeja larruped 36 from 14 balls to seal victory.
The last time these two teams faced each other was the 2012 final where KKR beat CSK to claim the title in Chennai, and the re-match turned out to be terrible one-sided. KKR were simply blown away by the visiting team, and the blame for a sorry scorecard was solely the batsmen's. KKR's latest opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan made 25 each but no other player touched 20 as a series of run outs and errant strokeplay undid the batting.
It took a stunning catch at third man from Michael Hussey to snap an opening stand of 46 just before the end of the Powerplay. Sprinting to his left, Hussey took a low catch after Gambhir cut Chris Morris in the air. Two deliveries later, S Badrinath nailed a direct hit to run out Jacques Kallis without facing a ball. When Eoin Morgan swept Dwayne Bravo to square leg, KKR had lost their three main batsmen.
A second run out one delivery later had Yusuf on his way, meaning Kolkata had gone from 46 for 0 to 55 for 4, and from here on the rest of the batsmen were unable to figure out how to tackle a slippery situation. Debabrata Das appeared to have only one shot, the slog to leg - it fetched him two sixes - and looking to repeat it against Ashwin he was struck dead in front of middle and leg for 19. Manoj Tiwary ate up 18 balls before skipping out and swinging Ashwin to deep midwicket, a rash shot considering the situation.
Jadeja had missed the stumps twice but had a say in the next wicket to fall, accepting the simplest of caught-and-bowled chances from Rajat Bhatia. With the third ball of the same over he had another, as Laxmi Shukla opted for a needless sweep and was out lbw. It was ludicrous batting from KKR's trio of local talent - each batsman out playing a wild shot to the leg side. Sunil Narine could be pardoned for swinging himself out for 13 off 6 balls, considering he was required to come out and bat 16th over with KKR on 91 for 8, and the last pair of Sachitra Senanayake and L Balaji scrambled together 12 runs to get the total to something nearing respectability.
Such was MS Dhoni's confidence in chasing a meager total that he sent Ashwin to open with Hussey, but the experiment failed as Ashwin (11) fell to Narine after adding 24 in 27 balls with Hussey. Eight runs later Senanayake won an lbw shout against Murali Vijay (2) in his fourth over, and when Suresh Raina lofted Yusuf out to Narine at long-on CSK were 40 for 3.
The big jolt came courtesy a superb piece of fielding from Morgan, who collected the ball and flung it onto the stumps while airborne to run out Dhoni for 9. That left CSK to chase 66 in 51 balls. The asking rate crept up as Badrinath managed just 6 off 11 before he was bowled by Kallis when trying up break free. Hussey ended a 40-ball spell without a boundary by swinging Kallis for six, followed by a second six just moments later when Jadeja charged Balaji second ball.
Hussey fell for a 51-ball 40 to offer one last twist to the chase, but Jadeja swung two more sixes to get the required rate in control. A drop from Yusuf in the deep gave Jadeja a life and he cashed in by hitting the winning runs with his third six.