IPL 2018 – CSK vs KKR: Billings carries starry night for Chennai

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April 10, 2018

Brief Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings 205 for 5 (Billings 56, Watson 42) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 202 for 6 (Russell 88*) by five wickets

April 10, 2018

Brief Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings 205 for 5 (Billings 56, Watson 42) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 202 for 6 (Russell 88*) by five wickets

Sam billings of Chennai Super Kings bats during the VIVO IPL cricket T20 match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai, India, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Parthi Bhan)

CHENNAI, INDIA – Chennai Super Kings’ return to their home at the MA Chidambaram Stadium after almost three years was mired in political tension. The packed crowd in Chennai braved all the drama off the field, while their players overcame an Andre Russell onslaught on it to script a thrilling five-wicket win with one ball to spare.

After Dwayne Bravo took the side to a stunning win over Mumbai Indians in their opening game, Chennai found a new hero in Sam Billings on Tuesday (April 10). The England batsman smashed a 23-balll 56 to shepherd the chase as Chennai hunted down Kolkata Knight Rider’s 202 for 6 with some panache.

Having put Kolkata in, Chennai did well to reduce them to 89 for 5, but Russell struck a blistering unbeaten 88 to lift the side to the highest total this season. The Carribean allrounder dealt mostly in boundaries – one four and 11 sixes – during his 36-ball knock, and completely dominated a sixth-wicket partnership of 76 with Dinesh Karthik to help Kolkata find late momentum.

Chasing the massive total, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu looked poised to scale down the target on their own. The first over of the chase produced 16 and by the end of the Power Play, the duo put on a 75-run opening stand. Tom Curran, replacing Mitchell Johnson in Kolkata’s XI, finally managed a breakthrough when Watson’s pull didn’t come through and the allrounder was back after a 19-ball 42.

At a time when the Chennai batsmen were milking pacers and spinners alike, Russell did his bit to stifle the runs. And Kuldeep Yadav capitalised on the pressure in his first over when Rayudu drove straight to deep extra-cover.

MS Dhoni walked out to raucous cheers, and with Suresh Raina already digging in, Chennai would have hoped for the duo to turn back time and propel the chase. But a calf injury that needed on-field treatment denied Raina the momentum and Sunil Narine made the most of it as Chennai slipped to 101 for 3.

 

With 101 required off 51 balls, Dhoni and Billings were excellent between the wickets, and punished the loose deliveries at will. Dhoni got into the groove in one Kuldeep over, while Billings, who was dropped on nine, showed little mercy towards Curran, as they brought the equation down to 58 off 30.

Karthik turned to Narine to apply the brakes, and the allrounder produced a quiet over to end with 1 for 17. Chawla finally ended the 54-run stand with Dhoni caught behind for 25.

But having dismissed the big names, it seemed as if Kolkata had settled into a false sense of calm. Led by Billings’ clean hitting, Chennai crept up on Kolkata. With 48 required off thee overs, the decision to send Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Bravo seemed questionable. But Billings continued with his charge, bringing up his half-century off 21 balls before falling to Curran in the penultimate over.

It finally came down to 17 off the last over. Bravo hammered a six off a Vinay Kumar no-ball, and collected three of the next two, while Jadeja hit the winning six as Chennai amassed 205 for 5 with one ball to spare.

It has all seemed very different when Kolkata rode on Russell’s blitz to put together a massive total.

Fresh off his blistering half-century against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Narine threatened to launch another assault. But the bait of introducing spin worked as Narine couldn’t curb his temptation to hit out, skying a Harbhajan Singh delivery to Raina at midwicket. Chennai could have had two in two with both the Kolkata openers back in the hut had Deepak Chahar held on to a hard pull from Chris Lynn at square-leg.

The Chennai crowd soon found its voice when Lynn was bowled off Jadeja while completely missing a heave.

Nitish Rana joined Robin Uthappa in the middle and the duo briefly entertained during their 29-run third-wicket partnership. Striking the ball sweetly, Uthappa turned on the heat with two consecutive sixes into the stands over long-on as Kolkata collected 64 runs for the loss of Narine and Lynn in the Power Play. But the momentum swung back Chennai’s way when both Rana and Uthappa fell in the ninth over.

At 89 for 5 at the halfway stage, it seemed Chennai would wrap things up quickly, but Karthik and Russell shored things up and batted the hosts out of the contest.

While Karthik chose caution, putting away bad deliveries and rotating the strike when the ball landed in the right areas, Russell was more a runaway freight train. With absolutely no consideration for who was bowling and what the field was, he was relentless. Although spin kept Russell quiet initially, he targeted Bravo, his Windies teammate, off whom he smashed seven sixes across three overs. Despite losing Karthik along the way, Russell kept teeing off, smacking Shardul Thakur for two sixes in the final over to take Kolkata past 200, which eventually didn’t prove enough.


Courtesy/Source: Wisden India

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