Chennai: The last time Kolkata Knight Riders travelled to Chennai they took home the IPL trophy with a thrilling last-over win over the home team. On Sunday, however, the home team ended up on top after Michael Hussey led the charge to 200 and the bowlers defied another fearless innings from the hero of the 2012 final, Manvinder Bisla.
Like last time, Bisla compiled a superb half-century but unlike last time, it was not enough for KKR. The 14-run win was Chennai Super Kings' second over KKR this season and pushed them up to No. 1 with 14 points from nine matches.
The path to success was paved by CSK's man for all seasons, the in-form Hussey, who reeled off his fourth fifty of the season after Gautam Gambhir opted to field. Hussey braved the oppressive heat and humidity of Chennai to dominate a century opening stand with Wriddhiman Saha and was unfortunate to miss a century by five runs.
He and Saha rattled off 67 from the Powerplay to lay a strong base. Hussey took off in the third over with a trio of fours off L Balaji, then Saha tucked into Shami Ahmed with two fours and six. Sunil Narine was given an early start in the fifth over and Hussey collected two fours, before the openers trained their sights on Jacques Kallis. The South African's first over cost 18 with Saha pulling four and driving six and in the second Kallis conceded 14 as Hussey swung six over midwicket and Saha lofted handsomely over mid-off.
The breakthrough eventually came when Saha (39 off 23 balls) swung Rajat Bhatia to deep midwicket, but that was followed by a half-century stand between Hussey and Suresh Raina. Hussey kept finding the gaps with delicate touches and with the field being perforated a minor dip in scoring had no impact on Chennai's dominance following the platform laid by the openers.
Visibly tiring from the sapping conditions, Hussey looked to reach three figures with a pull off Narine but instead picked out the fielder at deep midwicket on 95. He had made 32 out of a 55-run stand in 34 balls with Raina, who scored a breezy 44 to help the total to 200 for 3. Each of KKR's bowlers took a bit of tap, with Kallis the most expensive with none for 50 off his four overs.
As happens in reply to such targets, the team chasing struggled to form partnerships up front. Dirk Nannes' wayward opening over on return to the side knocked off 18 - and 12 in extras - from a steep chase, but KKR were dented by the fall of Gambhir for 14, bowled by Chris Morris in the third over. Bisla spoiled Morris' figures with four boundaries in the fifth over as KKR crossed 50, only for Brendon McCullum (6) to chop the last ball of the Powerplay overs onto his stumps to give the economic Mohit Sharma a wicket.
Though Bisla got his second consecutive fifty through some innovative and bullish batting, the asking rate was always tough to follow. Kallis ate up 20 balls for 19 before scooping Dwayne Bravo to short fine leg, after which Bisla and Eoin Morgan put on 79 in 37 balls. Morgan was dropped on 9 at mid-on off Nannes and then struck the bowler for six, and with 50 required from 18 balls, Bisla and Morgan grabbed 21 off Nannes' final over.
That's when Hussey made a crucial play in the field, nailing a direct hit to run out Bisla for 92. Nineteen from six balls was too much for Morgan as Morris bowled an excellent final over which cost just four runs.