Shreyas Iyer’s leadership skills outshone Ravindra Jadeja’s in the season opener of IPL 2022 as Kolkata Knight Riders registered a comfortable six-wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings at Wankhede Stadium. Ajinkya Rahane, who recently lost his place in India’s Test squad, silenced his critics with a crucial 44-run knock to set up the platform for his new franchise in a successful run chase. Shreyas hit the winning runs in his first match as KKR captain as his team chased down the 132-run target with 9 balls to spare.
Veteran Chennai Super Kings wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni turned back the clock to smash his first IPL century since 2019. Dhoni ended his century drought to pull his team to a fighting total of 131/5 after a very sluggish start against a high-quality KKR bowling attack.
Chasing the target of 132, KKR were off to a solid start as Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer shared a 43-run stand for the opening wicket. However, Dwayne Bravo got the better of Venkatesh (16) with a slower one as he edged that to Dhoni behind the stumps. Rahane was then joined by Nitish Rana who also scored crucial 21 runs before becoming the second victim of Bravo.
Rahane, who was looking in great touch, was dismissed by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner. The veteran India batter tried to play a big shot over mid-wicket but missed the connection and got caught by Jadeja.
After Rahane’s departure, Sam Billings and Iyer shared a gritty 36-run stand for the fourth wicket to take the game closer. Billings was dismissed on 25. In the end, Iyer hit a boundary to seal the game for KKR as he remained unbeaten on 20.
Bravo was the pick of the bowlers for Chennai as he claimed three wickets.
Earlier, it was a typical MS Dhoni knock as he paced his innings well after starting slow on a tricky batting surface. The veteran wicketkeeper was batting on 7 off 17 balls but he managed to switch gears at the right time to smash 43 off the last 21 balls to complete his half-century in the final over of the innings.
Opting to bowl, Umesh Yadav snapped two wickets, while Varun Chakravarthy (1/23) and Andre Russell (1/38) also kept things in check as CSK found the going tough at the Wankhede stadium.
Apart from Dhoni, newly appointed skipper Ravindra Jadeja (26 not out) and Robin Uthappa (28) also chipped in with useful contributions for CSK to put up a fighting total on the scoreboard.