Knight Riders of Kolkata 147 for 4 (Rana 57*, Rinku 54, Chahar 3-27) count Super kings of Chennai 144 for 6 (Dube 48*, Conway 30, Narine 2-15, Varun 2-36) with six wickets
Kolkata Knight Riders tripped Chennai Super Kings in their final home game of the league season, beating and beating them on a tricky Chepauk pitch to stay in contention for the playoffs. CSK would have become the first team to clinch a playoff spot had they won; they are still in a good position to continue, but this defeat may have hurt their chances of a top-two finish.
KKR eventually won with nine balls to spare. They might have hoped for a more comprehensive win, but Rinku and Rana had little choice but to put NRR considerations on the back burner after KKR lost three early wickets.
Varun, dominating Narine after Dhoni chooses to punch
Interviewed at the end of the game, MS Dhoni said CSK would have needed 180 to have any chance of defending a total once the dew had set in, but there was no way they could have scored 180 in the conditions that prevailed in the first innings.
Of course it was Dhoni’s decision to hit first. Their innings started promising enough, with the first two wickets at 31 and 30 respectively. Varun ended both partnerships, with his carrom ball turning significantly both times to fail Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ajinkya Rahane catches.
Rahane’s wicket caused a collapse, as CSK fell from 61 for 1 to 72 for 5, with Shardul Thakur dismissing a scratchy Devon Conway for 30 off 28 balls before Narine struck twice in the 11th to send back Ambati Rayudu and Moeen Ali.
Dube fixes CSK innings from one side
However, Dube got CSK to pass 140, hitting Suyash Sharma for two sixes and freeing his front leg to beat Varun for another in the 18th over. He found a way to score even as Varun bowled his typically strangling lengths and the ball between long-on and deep midwicket worked for a pair of doubles in that 18th over.
Chahar hits an unusual three-for
Rinku and Rana knock CSK out of the match
By the time the power play was done, Rana and Rinku had already shown signs of rhythm. Rana had hit Chahar off the hip for six in the fifth over, and Rinku had hit Deshpande for a consecutive six to end the sixth over.
Spin immediately took off, with Dhoni pitting his two off spinners against the two left-handers. They started well, conceding just seven runs in the seventh and eighth overs, before Rinku eased the pressure with a pair of fours off Moeen Ali in the ninth.
Moeen kept going for runs after that, with Rana hitting him three fours in his third and fourth overs – a reverse sweep and two inside-out drives. In total, he took 34 from 22 balls against the offspin pairing Moeen and Maheesh Theekshana. It was a demonstration of a well-known fact, that Rana is among the best left-handed hitters against offspin in the IPL.
Rinku usually prefers speed on the bat, but on this day he was also excellent against the spinners and made sure to dominate his favorable game by hitting Jadeja for two sixes.
It didn’t help Super Kings that they missed the one chance they had to break up this partnership when it still could have mattered, with Matheesha Pathirana putting Rana down on a deep back square leg when he swept Moeen into the 11th about misplaced. Rana was 18 at the time.
Both batters then went into their 50s before Rinku was out in the 18th over, trying to hit a tight single that would have lifted the century score. By then, the game was almost over, with KKR needing just 13 off 17 balls.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo