CSK vs KKR: Dhoni’s men stutter in a chase again, Knight Riders have the last laugh

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Shared News: October 8, 2020 7:43:42 am
Rahul Tripathi is the knight in shining armour before KKR trigger CSK’s middle-order collapse.

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Rahul Tripathi in way to his 81 against CSK (Twitter/IPL)

Chennai Super Kings were well on course of acing the chase. However, Kolkata Knight Riders kept their composure in face of an onslaught by Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu. A mixture of resourceful bowling in the middle overs by Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Andre Russell, and a slow Abu Dhabi pitch kept Chennai’s batsmen in check. The result was a 10-run win for KKR that propelled them to the third spot in the points table.

Middle-order collapse

A target of 168 looked well within CSK’s reach when a rampant Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu were going ballistic. But against the run of play, Rayudu was caught in the deep, and in the next over, Watson was trapped in front by the wily Narine for 50. When captain MS Dhoni was cleaned up by Chakravarthy for 11, the target suddenly looked like an uphill task. The complexion of an IPL match can change pretty quickly. For CSK, it all came crashing down in the space of just five overs. From 99/1 in the 12th over, they stuttered to 129/5 in 17.1 overs, losing four wickets for just 30 runs. For Dhoni’s team, scoring runs had become a treacherous proposition on the slow, worn-out Abu Dhabi pitch.

CSK bowlers give them a chance

Earlier, CSK bowlers found the perfect template to quell KKR’s belligerent stroke-players. They hardly pitched anything in the hitting arc and kept pushing them back in the crease through a series of short-pitched deliveries cleverly interspersed with balls wide of the stumps. The slower, back-of-the-hand stuff was rare, replaced by yorkers targeting the block-hole. The deadly concoction gave KKR’s big-ticket batsmen in the middle order little joy. CSK’s bowling attack lacked genuine pace. But they more than made up for it with skill and gumption.

Sam Curran
Sam Curran of celebrates the wicket of Eoin Morgan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on the 7th October 2020. (BCCI/IPL)

It was the irrepressible Sam Curran, who began the choke by nailing the dangerous Eoin Morgan with a short-pitched delivery that was feathered through to Dhoni in the 14th over. Two overs later, Shardul Thakur conned Russell with a back-of-length scrambled seamer. These two strikes meant that KKR would not get the desired momentum towards the end of the innings. They lost six wickets for 40 runs in the final five overs, as Curran, Thakur and Dwayne Bravo claimed seven wickets between them to skittle KKR for 167 after 20 overs.

This transpired after KKR had set a fantastic platform, being 93/2 at the half-way mark. Before the medium-pacers got into the act, it was leg-spinner Karn Sharma who initiated the slide with the twin blows of Nitish Rana and Narine.

Tripathi, the knight in shining armour

Rahul Tripathi impressed for the Rising Pune Supergiant three seasons ago at the top of the order. In the next two seasons, when he shifted to the Rajasthan Royals, he was shuttled down the order, where he hardly got any opportunity to display his wares.

After a rollicking 36 against Delhi Capitals, the team management made the pragmatic move of promoting him as an opener and pushing Sunil Narine to no.4. Tripathi looked in control, and at one point, looked like he would help KKR breach the 200-run mark. He looked most proficient against short-pitched deliveries, and if it was remotely wide, Tripathi would smoke it.

His 51-ball 81 gave KKR more than a fair chance.

Brief Scores: KKR 167 (Rahul Tripathi 81, Dwayne Bravo 3/35, Karn Sharma 2/25) beat CSK 157/5 (Shane Watson 50, Andre Russell 1/18) by 10 runs.