IPL: Gill and Karthik power KKR past sloppy CSK

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Kolkata Knight Riders 180 for 4 (Gill 57*, Karthik 45*) beat Chennai Super Kings 177 for 5 (Dhoni 43*, Watson 36) by six wickets

Shubman Gill and Dinesh Karthik put up an 83-run stand, Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2018, Kolkata, May 3, 2018 © BCCI

ESPNcricinfo-One of Kolkata Knight Riders’ most valued assets is their bowling strength, particularly their spinners. Sunil Narine’s mystery spin is still effective. Wristspinners Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav are widely respected. Together, they conceded 89 runs in 12 overs and took all five wickets to fall in the game’s first half to limit Chennai Super Kings to 177.

In favourable chasing conditions, KKR cruised home with 14 balls to spare, on the back of Shubman Gill’s maiden IPL fifty and rapid cameos from Dinesh Karthik and Narine. The result meant Sunrisers Hyderabad displaced CSK at the top of the points table.

Setting a target

While batting first on a small ground, deciding on a target can be a tough decision. At Eden Gardens before this game, a target was successfully defended only once in four games – KKR scored 200 to beat Delhi Daredevils by 71 runs. With short boundaries and the possibility of dew impacting spinners in the second innings, CSK may have felt compelled to aim at a similar score. That’s how openers Faf du Plesssis and Shane Watson approached their innings.

Du Plessis hit four fours and a six in his 15-ball 27, often chipping lofted shots over the infield to capitalise on a fast outfield. He was bowled by Piyush Chawla, slogging across the line in an attempt to further increase the scoring rate.

Watson was more circumspect, picking his deliveries to attack. He struck 36 off 24 balls before mis-timing a pull to deep midwicket. Together, they played 40 balls – one third of the innings – to score 63 runs, putting CSK on course for a 200-plus score.

Another Dhoni flourish

Prior to this game, Dhoni had found his fluency and form, having scored three unbeaten fifties in eight games this season. Three quick wickets and a risk of leaving the death overs bare of batting resources forced Dhoni to retract from attacking from the outset.

He scored five runs from his first nine balls. He hit 30 off his next 11 balls, including four sixes. CSK scored 56 runs from the last five overs. Dhoni scored 39 of those.

CSK’s sloppy fielding

With 177 to defend, CSK needed early wickets to stall KKR’s momentum. Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine are often tasked with generating that momentum. Lynn was caught at slip, via the inside edge, in the first over. CSK then had two chances to dismiss Narine.

Ravindra Jadeja, one of CSK’s best fielders, dropped both chances at mid-off, off consecutive deliveries. In the second over, Narine flat-batted a length ball to Jadeja. He pouched the ball near his midriff, but the ball burst out. Off the next ball, Jadeja dropped an overhead catch. Narine went on to score a 20-ball 32, before he was eventually caught off the bowling of Jadeja.

Leaving margin for error

KKR were in control of their chase right from the outset. When Rinku Singh was bowled in the 12th over, KKR needed 81 runs off 50 balls. Gill and Karthik stayed aggressive, punching drives on the up and pulling elegantly into the stands over square leg.

The intent was clear: not to leave the chase to the last over with several variables involved. Karthik’s 18-ball 45 and Gill’s 36-ball 57 ensured the penultimate over wasn’t required either.

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