IPL 2018: Sam Billings Holds Fort as Chennai Super Kings Blow Away Kolkata Knight Riders by 5 Wickets at Chepauk

    Cricketnext Staff | Updated: April 11, 2018, 12:33 AM IST
    IPL 2018: Sam Billings Holds Fort as Chennai Super Kings Blow Away Kolkata Knight Riders by 5 Wickets at Chepauk

    Sam Billings (BCCI Photo)

    New Delhi: 75 required off 36 balls with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the crease and batting in his den at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. This is not an uncommon sight for Chennai Super Kings fans as they have seen their hero Dhoni play one match-winning knock after the other ever since the inception of the Indian Premier League in 2008. But against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Chepauk on Tuesday, it was Sam Billings who stole the show with his calculated hitting as Chennai romped home by five wickets in a thriller.

    Showing great maturity, Billings converted the ones into twos and waited for the right balls to hit into the stands as he ensured that when he did get out, CSK needed just 19 off 9 balls and that was all they required as Ravindra Jadeja finished it off with a six as the Chepauk crowd went into a frenzy. Needing 17 off the last 6 balls, KKR pacer Vinay Kumar started horribly as he bowled a no-ball and the ball went for a six off Dwayne Bravo's bat. And that was not all as he then bowled a wide with Chennai needing 7 off 4 balls as that made it 6 off 4. After that, it was the Jadeja sign-off that had everyone in Chennai on their feet.

    For Kolkata though, it was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as Andre Russell gave a brilliant display of power-hitting as his unbeaten 88 off just 36 balls with 11 sixes helped Kolkata notch up a winning 202/6 in their 20 overs. If Dhoni struggled to hit the over-drive button, Russell did it beautifully as Kolkata scored 79 runs off the last five overs to turn a challenging total into a match-winning one. While this Chepauk wicket doesn’t look like the dust bowls over the years, chasing down Kolkata’s total was still going to be a tough task.

    Yet, a mini-attack from Dhoni and Sam Billings meant that the hosts needed 51 from 24 balls with 7 wickets still in the bag as the players went into the strategic break. But Piyush Chawla dismissed Dhoni, caught behind by Dinesh Karthik for 25 off 28 balls at a time when the team needed 48 off 22 balls. This gave Kolkata renewed hope, but Billings had other ideas.

    But credit must also be given to the openers as Chennai started really well with Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu throwing the kitchen sink at the Kolkata bowlers. Watson and Rayudu took Piyush Chawla out for special treatment. While his first over cost KKR 14, his second one cost 17. But Kolkata finally pulled it back with Tom Curran sending back Watson for a 19-ball 42 as CSK ended the powerplay on 75/1 after 6 overs. That didn’t help as Rayudu (39 off 26) followed suit 3 overs later and Suresh Raina (14 off 12) failed to rise to the occasion as he has over the years.

    Earlier, it was a positive start once again for KKR after Dhoni won the toss and decided to put Kolkata in to bat. Sunil Narine started with 18 from the first over. But Harbhajan Singh bowled beautifully to send back Narine (12). Chris Lynn though looked to up the ante with Robin Uthappa playing beautifully at the other end. He was looking to hit the big sixes even as Lynn rotated the strike.

    But Dhoni’s move to get Ravindra Jadeja paid dividend as he got the Aussie against the run of play for 22. Nitish Rana failed to put up the show he did against RCB and was dismissed for just 16 as an awkward whip off his hips was caught by Dhoni behind the wicket off Watson. Things went from bad to worse for KKR as Uthappa (29 off 16) was run out against the run of play as Raina hit the stumps direct at the non-strikers’ end.

    But that was the end of the celebration for Chennai as Russell came in to join Karthik. What happened after that was top quality power-hitting from the West Indian as the crowd at Chepauk had to acknowledge a brilliant innings. Watson did return to send back Karthik (26) in the 18th over, but that was just not enough for the Chennai outfit as Russell hit 21 off the 19th as special treatment was meted out to death over specialist Dwayne Bravo by Russell. The first three balls of the over were all deposited into the crowd.
    First Published: April 11, 2018, 12:02 AM IST

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