Imran Tahir's stunning 4/27 restricted Kolkata to a slightly under-par 161/8 despite a fiery 51-ball 82 from Chris Lynn at the Eden Gardens.
The hosts, however, staged an excellent comeback keeping things under check and striking regularly in the run-chase. With Chennai five down and needing 41 to win off the final four overs, it seemed they might fall short but Suresh Raina (58 in 42) and Ravindra Jadeja (31 in 17) had other ideas. The duo held onto their nerves took the side home by wickets with two balls to spare.
Chennai's run-chase got off to a fine start with both Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis getting off the mark with a four first ball. Du Plessis then gave Andre Russell some taste of his own medicine thumping him for four consecutive fours before Harry Gurney brought some sanity to proceedings.
The left-arm pacer nipped one sharply back into Watson catching him on the crease and bang in front of the stumps for 6. Narine then struck gold with just his third ball castling du Plessis for 24.
Raina looked in good touch from the get-go and quickly found his bearings but wickets kept tumbling at the other end. Ambati Rayudu's poor form with the bat continued when he uppishly drove Piyush Chawla to covers for 5 with the scoreboard reading 61/3 in the 10th over.
Kedar Jadhav coming in at No. 5 started off by collecting two successive fours off Chawla and then thrashing Kuldeep Yadav for a four and a six the next over. But his joy was short-lived as Chawla pinned him right in front of the sticks for 20 to peg Chennai back.
The combination of MS Dhoni and Raina had the tough task of getting their team back on track but with the Kolkata spinners on the attack, it was always going to be tough. Dhoni slammed Kuldeep for a mighty six over long-on but his old nemesis Narine once again brought about his undoing trapping him lbw for 16.
With half the side back in the hut, Chennai's chase got tricker but Raina was not one to give up easily. He clobbered Chawla for a four and a six soon reaching his 37th IPL half-century. He found an able ally in Jadeja, who hit his straps immediately. The visitors needing 24 runs off the final two overs, Jadeja crashed Gurney for three successive fours collecting 16 in the penultimate over. Chawla then conceded a four first ball in the last over to make things easier.
A brace from Jadeja, who finished on 31 off just 17 balls, sealed the deal for the visitors in 19.4 overs. With the win, Chennai further consolidated their position at the top of the table.
Earlier, sent into bat on a humid afternoon in Kolkata, Lynn was in his elements nice and early taking a special liking to Deepak Chahar. He thrashed the paceman to the deep cover boundary to bring up 1000 IPL runs and celebrated it with another powerful slap in the same region the very next ball. The opener then smashed two fours and a six in Chahar's second over - third of the day - as Kolkata got off the blocks nicely.
While Lynn was going berserk at one end, Narine found things slightly tougher at the other. Chennai came out with a plan against him and he succumbed just seven balls into his innings caught at long on for 2.
Lynn though carried on unperturbed signalling his intentions loud and clear when he thumped Ravindra Jadeja for two fours before depositing Santner for a monstrous 95-metre six down the ground. He soon got to his eighth IPL half-century, as Kolkata reached 77/1 after 10 overs, setting up for a final flourish.
But Dhoni soon understood that pace off the ball was the way out on this surface. He employed his spinners in the middle overs to stem the flow of runs and Imran Tahir - like he so often he has in this tournament - did the job for his captain. He deceived Nitish Rana in the 10th over with a loopy leg-break that the left-hander could only mistime straight down du Plessis' throat for 21. Just two ball later, he lulled Robin Uthappa (0) into a false stroke and du Plessis once again completed the catch though this time he had to run in quite a distance from long-off.
Despite the twin strikes, there was no stopping Lynn, who seemed to notch up another gear. He first pulled Chahar into the stands over deep fine leg and then plundered Ravindra Jadeja for three back-to-back sixes in the spinner's final over. However, the irrepressible Tahir once again brought the visitors back into the game and this time with two big strikes.
Lynn, looking for a shot-a-minute failed to latch onto a short of a length delivery and mishit one into the hands of Shardul Thakur stationed at deep square leg. The opener hit seven fours and six sixes during his knock but his wicket provided Chennai with the much-needed opening. Russell (10) came out to bat amidst huge cheers and tonked a four and six off his first three balls announcing his intentions early. Tahir though pulled his length slightly back which caught Russell off-guard resulting in the all-rounder toe-ending one to long on where Dhruv Shorey plucked an excellent catch diving forward as the hosts slipped to 132/5 after 15 overs.
With two of their finest hitters back in the shed in the space of six balls, Kolkata found the going tough. Things became worse when Dinesh Karthik fell for 18 while Shubman Gill too failed to impress departing in the last over for a scratchy 20-ball 15. The hosts could only manage 19 runs off their last four overs as Chennai made a remarkable comeback in the latter half of the innings.
First Published: April 14, 2019, 8:36 AM IST