Chennai: Chennai Super Kings raked up their fourth successive victory at home this IPL season, but the lacklustre match against Kolkata Knight Riders on a sluggish wicket was not a good advertisement for the T20 cricket. The Chepauk pitch and playing conditions have been at the forefront of IPL debates and the slow nature of the surface on Tuesday took the sheen off what was billed as the top of the table clash.
For the record, Super Kings got the better of Kolkata by seven wickets to move to No.1 spot with 10 points in six games. Knights had marched down south with a hope of storming Super Kings's fortress, but their search for the first win at the M. A. Chidambaram stadium since 2012 remained a dream.
Opener Faf du Plessis scored an unbeaten 43 off 45 balls as CSK won with 16 balls to spare.
Earlier, Knight Riders scrambled to 108 for nine with their man-in-form Andre Russell playing an uncharacteristic knock. If not for the Jamaican's unbeaten 50 off 44 balls, KKR's total wouldn't have reached the three-figure mark.
The slow Chepauk surface made life difficult for the batsmen, but the KKR top-order had to take the blame for giving their wickets away in a heap. Chris Lynn (0), Sunil Narine (6), Robin Uthappa (11), Nitish Rana (0) and Dinesh Karthik (19), they all dug their own grave by playing across the line. KKR were 29 for 4 in powerplay and then heading for an embarrassing finish, at 47 for six in 10.1 overs.
CSK's new-ball bowler Deepak Chahar (3/20) hit the right length to choke the flamboyant Lynn, while veteran Harbhajan Singh used his experience to vary the pace smartly against Narine who perished while trying to slog. The combination of leggie Imran Tahir (2/21) and Harbhajan (2/15) proved deadly.
Skipper Karthik looked solid when he rocked back to cut Ravindra Jadeja through point boundary, but sent a Tahir short ball straight to Harbhajan at mid-wicket.
Russell was only on eight when Harbhajan fumbled a catch at the same spot. Russell's skier, the result of a top-edge, was challenging, but Harbhajan completely lost the trajectory and couldn’t even make contact with the ball.
KKR's best stand came towards the end. The scenario was quite unusual for Russell who not only had the onerous task of lifting Kolkata to a decent total, but also to nurse the No.10 batsman Harry Gurney. The Jamaican did both efficiently even though he looked to have developed cramps. And he clutched his wrist and appeared to be in pain after swatting a stunning six over midwicket off pacer Scott Kuggeleijn. The unconquered last-wicket stand earned KKR 29 runs, with 15 of them coming in the last over off Kuggeleijn....