Calcutta: The heavens opened up on Saturday to bolster the Kolkata Knight Riders chances of booking a berth in the playoffs of the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Heavy rain, before and during the match, hurt the Chennai Super Kings as the Knights rode on the Duckworth/Lewis Method to pocket full points at the Eden.
The pre-start heavily clouded sky and drizzle got transformed into heavy rain during the match, truncating the contest. When the showers interrupted the game, the Knights, chasing a 115-run target, had batted for 10 overs and made 61 for two, with Jacques Kallis (21) and Manoj Tiwary (15) at the crease.
When it was clear that further play wouldnt be possible, the Duckworth/Lewis method came into play. And thats where the Knights triumphed as it was found that they were 10 runs ahead of the required score. That gave Gautam Gambhirs side a 10-run victory (they are now on 14 from 11 matches) and thereby boosted their chances of making it to the next level.
But before being disrupted by the downpour, Gambhir and his men displayed an all-round performance, with aggressive bowling, fielding and batting.
The Knights, however, started the chase on a faulty note as Jacques Kalliss opening partner, Eoin Morgan (5), was dismissed in the second over of the innings. Morgan had started with a boundary… But that was the most he could do before Ravichandran Ashwin castled him.
Kallis and Gambhir then steadied the ship, adding 24 runs off 29 balls. Both the batsmen smashed two boundaries each. Gambhir (16), however, did not last long. He was caught brilliantly at the covers by Suraj Randiv off Ashwin. Seasoned middle-order batsman Manoj Tiwary came in next and added another 15 to take the total to 61 for two.
Earlier in the day, Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss, but that was probably the only thing that went his way on the day. Electing to bat, the Super Kings were not at all super in their batting at the Eden.
The Chennai side lost three wickets in quick succession and looked rather helpless for most part of their innings.
The slow Eden wicket did not live up to the estimate of being a batting paradise and increased the problems for Dhonis men.
It was Albie Morkel and Subramaniam Badrinath who took stock of the situation and stitched together 65 runs off 54 balls to propel a tottering Super Kings to 114 for four at the end of the stipulated 20 overs. Badrinath scored 54 off 41 deliveries which included three boundaries and two sixes, while Morkel hit a run-a-ball 30, including three boundaries. However, both of them lived charmed lives at the crease, thanks to a couple of lapses on the Knights part.
lap a chance off Badrinath, at the third man, in the tenth over. It, in fact, led to the first six for the Super Kings and also inspired the next couple of hits. Then Brett Lee faltered on an opportunity, in the 15th over, to get Morkel out.
The Super Kings started with the trusted opening pair of Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay. But they didnt get to spend much time together at the crease as Vijay was caught and bowled by an alert Iqbal Abdulla in the fourth over. Vijay was playing a defensive game and that brought about his downfall. Vijays defensive push went straight to the bowler when he was at a personal score of 5.
New batsman Suresh Raina, too, could not keep Hussey company for long. He had only added 4 runs to the team score when Jacques Kallis caught him at mid-wicket, in the sixth over, off a Yusuf Pathan delivery. The Super Kings stood precariously at 15 for two.
The desperate need for a partnership seemed somewhat resolved with Badrinath coming into the picture. But, this time Hussey departed with the team at 49.
Credit must go to the Knights bowlers who held the strings and, for the first half of the innings, did not give the Super Kings batsmen room enough for big hitting.
There was only one word to define the Knights bowling on Saturday — aggression. Gautam Gambhir mixed the bowling, alternating pace and spin and tempered it with tight fielding. The results it yielded were great as 114 is almost a no-score.
Lee, who opened the bowling for the Calcutta-outfit, was at his frugal best, giving only a single in his first over. Man of the Match Abdulla, too, did good work, giving away just 15 runs in his four overs, besides taking a wicket.