"I ran and ran," said Imran Tahir, in Tamil, wishing Chennai Super Kings fans a happy Tamil new year on Sunday (April 14).
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) April 14, 2019
It was a reference to a popular Tamil movie dialogue, and of course, Tahir's famous sprints after every wicket. He made it a memorable festival for his side against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, 'running' across Eden Gardens four times.
Tahir produced a career best IPL spell of 4 for 27, helping CSK restrict KKR to 161/8 in 20 overs, which they chased down by five wickets.
What made his spell remarkable was that the pitch was a belter. Even more remarkable were the situations he bowled in, and the wickets he got: Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa in his second over, Chris Lynn and Andre Russell in his next.
Tahir came into the attack in the ninth over with KKR having a solid platform at 67 for 1. Left-handed Rana was promoted to No. 3 to counter CSK's left-arm spinners and leg-spinner, given they didn't have Harbhajan Singh's off-spin.
Tahir broke through the platform in no time, getting Rana and Uthappa in a space of three balls. The plan to Rana was clever - CSK's spinners kept bowling outside off, denying him his favourite shot over deep mid-wicket. When Tahir bowled one in his zone, Rana could only mistime to long on. Uthappa then fell for a first-ball duck, quite needlessly lofting him to long off.
Those were two important wickets but KKR were in no mood to stop attacking, for Lynn was in that sort of a mood. Lynn has historically been poor against spin, but the flatness of the pitch made it a different story this time. It was evident when he smashed Ravindra Jadeja for three consecutive sixes in the 14th over.
Lynn was getting into full flow, and MS Dhoni immediately turned to Tahir to end the carnage. The captain and spinner had a long chat, perhaps plotting the perfect trap. Tahir's first ball to Lynn was a wide outside off, possibly making the batsman think that would be the line of attack. Or defence.
The next ball, though, was flat and straight. Lynn adjusted and swept, but could only find deep square-leg for 82 off 51. One dangerman was gone, another bigger one entered. Russell began with a four and a big six in three balls. Tahir had bowled them all straight, and Russell was not missing out.
The South African, though, was smart and brave enough to make a subtle change next ball. He tossed it up just like he had done previous ball, but had dragged the line a bit wider. Russell couldn't resist having a go, but managed to only hit it flat to long-on where substitute Dhruv Shorey took a superb catch diving forward.
It was Tahir's fourth wicket in the match, and the fourth time he has got Russell overall. His tremendous success against the big hitter continued, and kick-started the fastest and longest sprint of the evening.
First Published: April 15, 2019, 8:38 AM IST