Skipper Gautam Gambhir struck his fourth half-century of the season and spearheaded Kolkata Knight Riders to a five-wicket win against Chennai Super Kings with two balls to spare in the Indian Premier League here Monday.
Gambhir’s innings of 63 (52b, 6×4, 1×6) saw the Knight Riders easily overhaul Super Kings’ modest total of 139 for five as the skipper added 70 runs for the third wicket with Jacques Kallis (34) to take the Knight Riders to their sixth win in 10 matches for a tally of 13.
The Super Kings for whom Suresh Raina (44) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (34 not out) were the chief scorers, were themselves to blame for their fifth defeat in 10 games as their batting failed to fire despite the presence of Aussie import Michael Hussey and did not show much discipline in bowling.
It was Gambhir all the way for the Knight Riders. He captained quite brilliantly and then led the chase to break local hearts with yet another strong performance. He kept his composure despite the early loss of fellow-opener Brendon McCullum and anchored the innings.
There were moments in the chase, especially after Kallis’ departure when Gambhir seemed to be in a great hurry and was fortunate to have survived a couple of run out situations.
The Super Kings fought hard till the end as they picked up three more wickets, including those of Manoj Tiwary (13), Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan (12). But, ultimately, they had too few runs on the board as Knight Riders romped home.
The fact that there were just eight boundaries and two sixes in the entire Super Kings innings accurately reflected not so much the home batsmen’s poor form as the tight bowling by the Knight Riders.
The Super Kings innings never really gained any sort of momentum after the early exit of in-form opener Francois du Plessis (3) and then Hussey (18) drafted in just hours after flying in from the West Indies after the Test series, was needlessly run out in the fifth over when he looked to be in good touch.
Raina flickered briefly, albeit with some luck with a six off Brett Lee being particularly outstanding, but he never really looked to be in top form. His innings was a mix of good shots and chance but with Dwayne Bravo going cheaply, and the runs drying up, the pressure finally got to the southpaw who holed out in the deep in the 13th over.
Thereafter, the innings dawdled along with even Dhoni being unable to get cracking and the season’s expensive purchase Ravindra Jadeja struggling, the pressure kept building. Jadeja was soon out mistiming a big hit while Albie Morkel, who is continued being sent far too late in the innings, made no impact as the Super Kings innings ended up on 139.