Kolkata Knight Riders 133 for 4 (Rahane 44, Bravo 3-20) beat Chennai Super Kings 131 for 5 (Dhoni 50*, Umesh 2-20) with six wickets
Andre Russell and Shivam Mavi bore the brunt of Dhoni’s penalty when Super Kings took 47 in the last three overs of their innings, but they had previously made an impact by teaming up with Umesh to hit hard shots and starve the batters of opportunities to access the short straight boundaries.
Umesh performs the power play
The ball swung early for Umesh, and a little moisture in the field also caused his scrambled-seam ball to pinch around. Outswing defeated Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2021 IPL’s highest finisher, in Umesh’s first over, and in his third straight over in the power play, he sent off Devon Conway, who misplaced a halfway flick on his IPL debut as he tried to break the early shackles. breaking through.
Super Kings finished the power play at 35 for 2, and most of their runs came from their No. 3 Robin Uthappa, who harassed the new ball bowlers with his big shuffle over his stumps. It allowed him to access the leg side against balls that were a little too straight, and he hit two fours and two sixes this way by running to 23 out of 16 at the six-over mark.
Super Kings freeze in the middle overs
Meanwhile, the slopes dried up. Super Kings came through 48 no-limits before a misfield from Chakravarthy halfway through allowed play over into the 16th. By the end of the 17th, Super Kings were 84 to 5 – it was their third-worst first-innings score of that stage of an IPL innings.
Dhoni shoots away
In the first 16 overs, the Knight Riders fast bowlers had made a clear effort to bowl a good length or get just under. According to ESPNcricinfo data, 48 of the 54 balls they threw were in those areas, and only three at full length.
However, the slog-overs put pressure on bowlers to be unpredictable and slip into the Yorker every now and then. As the dew set in, it became difficult to control the Yorker: Mavi and Russell threw four full tosses in overs 18-20, and three of them flew to or over the border.
Aside from that, the late avalanche of runs was also due to Dhoni’s still-flickering late-overs genius. He used the depth of the fold to make the edges of the wicket at Russell, and in the final over he ran a whip of fierce force, from a near-yorker, to last long without a chance.
Jadeja, with no limits for the first 27 balls of his innings, finished it with a cut six over the covers, and Super Kings had a total they could possibly try to defend.
Rahane does the Rahane thing
This was the kind of chase Rahane was designed for: unroll a ball that’s close to a run, make sure one end is locked, and half the battle is done. Rahane, making his Knight Riders debut, gave them exactly the start they wanted. Perhaps trying to find swing, Tushar Deshpande and Adam Milne made a full-side error in the early overs, and Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer hit five fours in the first five overs, four of which were forefoot drive. In between, Rahane also pulled Milne for a six that showed how quickly he saw the ball and got into position.
By the end of the power play, Knight Riders 43 were without a loss.
Bravo clouds the water, but Knight Riders cruise home
This put another southpaw, Nitish Rana, in trouble and Super Kings began to miss Moeen Ali – who is serving his quarantine after visa problems delayed his arrival in India – for the second time in the evening. They had missed his decisiveness against the Knight Riders spinners, and now they missed his offspin.
After a pricey eighth over from the dubious-dobbly Dube, Super Kings were forced to turn to one of their two left-arm spinners, and Rana immediately hit Mitchell Santner for six. But with two Santner overs to go and Jadeja still bowling, Rana fell from the last ball of the 10th over, taking a slower bounce from Bravo and failing to free his short, fine leg.
With two right-handers in the fold, Santner and Jadeja combined to reverse the scoring percentage, also taking the wicket from Rahane. However, he had done his job and also clearly showed his intention to continue his shots into the center overs, even nailing a reverse sweep on Jadeja.
After that shot, Knight Riders went 29 balls without limits, before Sam Billings stretched and swept Bravo from the outside from the stump to the square leg boundary in the 16th over. That shot relieved the built-up pressure; Knight Riders needed 25 of 27 before Billings played it.
Billings made the task easier for Knight Riders with a jump across the track in the 17th to deposit Jadeja over wide. He was caught on the line trying another attempt from Bravo shortly after, but by then he had closed the door of Super Kings.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo