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The mike spike

Express news service

Posted: Apr 29, 2013 at 1049 hrs IST

Chennai: It was impossible to escape the similarities. The last time Kolkata Knight Riders travelled to Chennai, it was the final of the 2012 IPL and this game followed almost exactly the same script as that nail-biter, except for the final result. This time around, Chennai Super Kings kept their nerves at the end to pull off a 14-run win, thanks to Michael Hussey, who first made a 59-ball 95 and later pulled off a crucial direct hit to run Manvinder Bisla out in the penultimate over of the chase.

In the game last year, Chennai batted first, and after a good opening stand between Hussey and Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the side to a near-200 total. Then, though Gautam Gambhir got out early, an unkown (then) Bisla smashed the bowling around in the company of Jacques Kallis kept the side in the hunt and Shakib Al Hasan pulled off the win at the death.

This game followed a similar trajectory, until the final few deliveries. Chennai had benched the struggling Murali Vijay and in came Wriddhiman Saha (39 off 23 balls). The move proved a hit. The openers added 67 in the power play overs and put on 103 in the first ten before Saha holed out to the deep. The run rate of 10 would be maintained through the course of the innings. Hussey would stay for another five and half overs before holing out himself, off Sunil Narine’s final over.

Classical hits

The Australian scored at a strike rate of more than 160, with most of his 11 boundaries coming off classical shots. The few that weren’t, were of the pre-meditated variety, but still executed perfectly. For his two sixes, he relied on his favourite shot, the heave over midwicket. Raina (44 off 25) was joined by MS Dhoni at the fall of Hussey’s wicket and the two continued the good work. The southpaw was out going for a suicidal second in the final over, but Dhoni ensured a good finish to proceedings with a six off the last ball that took Chennai to exactly 200.

Chennai’s defense did not go to plan initially. Dirk Nannes’ first ball went for five wides and the next delivery was a front foot no ball. The free hit went for four leg byes and Chennai had conceded 10 extras in one legal delivery. Unsurprisingly, Nannes gave way for Chris Morris who got Gambhir with a straight fast ball. Morris’ success did not last long though, as Bisla smashed him for four boundaries in the next over, and despite Brendon McCullum chopping Mohit Sharma on in the final ball of the power play overs, Kolkata had gotten off to a good start. They were 63/2 from six overs, and were keeping up with the required rate.

Falling behind

Immediately after however, Chennai managed to keep Bisla and Kallis quiet and in the 23 deliveries that followed, Kolkata managed just 16. In a game where the required rate was over 10 runs an over, it represented a period where the visitors were falling behind rapidly. Nannes, Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin all sneaked in a few quiet dots, with Kallis even getting away as Raina dropped him in the deep.

It was Bisla who ended this period of restrain with a straight six off Ashwin. Kallis hit Jadeja for another six of the next ball and the chase was on track again. Kallis would depart at the start of the 13th over, scooping Dwayne Bravo straight to short fine leg, but in Eoin Morgan KKR had the perfect batsman to continue the charge.

Stiff ask

With 102 needed of 46 balls, Kolkata had no option but to throw their bat around, and a 21-run over later, the 18th of the innings, the visitors needed 29 off 12.

Despite a boundary and a wide of the next two deliveries, Kolkata would fall short. Hussey first ran out Bisla (92 off 61) from mid off and Chris Morris came back to bowl a tight final over to help Chennai to the win and the top spot. The defending champions though, have lost four of their last five games this season.

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