This is very rare that a team of Chennai Super Kings’ caliber loses two games on the bounce. However, when they do it takes a very good performance from their opponents. This is what happened on May 20 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata when the home team Kolkata Knight Riders, playing for the first time in front of their home crowd, put on an inspired show to topple perhaps the finest team in the history of the tournament.
Team composition: Kolkata made one change from the previous game, benching Morne Morkel and bringing in Pat Cummins. Chennai also dropped Samuel Badree and David Hussey for this game and brought back Ben Hilfenhaus and Faf du Plessis.
Batting: The Knight Riders won the toss and opted to field first. The Super Kings were restricted to 154 for 4. Suresh Raina was once again the highest scorer, with 65 from 52 balls. Brendon McCullum (28 from 24 balls), du Plessis (23 from 20 balls) and MS Dhoni (an unbeaten 21 from 15 balls) made some contributions to make sure that the bowlers had something to bowl to.
The Knight Riders got to the total easily, with 2 overs to spare. Robin Uthappa (67 from 39 balls) started the demolition job and it was finished by Shakib al Hasan (46 not out from 21 balls).
Bowling: Even though the KKR picked up only 4 wickets, the bowlers were mostly economical. Sunil Narine (1 for 24) was the best as usual, and Cummins (1 for 29), Umesh Yadav (none for 29) and Shakib (none for 30) supported him well. Piyush Chawla (1 for 42 in 4 overs) got a wicket but gave away a lot of runs.
For the CSK, Ishwar Pandey, who did not get to bowl in the last game, was the pick, with 1 for 31 in his quota. Ravindra Jadeja (1 for 23) tried hard but the lack of precision from the support cast – Hilfenhaus (38 runs in 3 overs) and Mohit Sharma (none for 28 in 3 overs) hurt the team, as did the failure of Ravichandran Ashwin (none for 24 in 4 overs) to pick up wickets.
Where do the teams go from here?
The Kolkata Knight Riders, like the Kings XI Punjab, have a definite pattern to their play, with the batsmen and the spinners playing a major role. The team needs to be prepared when the conditions and toss luck do not go their way. The good thing is that they have sufficient depth within the squad to address these issues.
The Chennai Super Kings would now be worried, as they have lost two games on the go and would be losing Brendon McCullum, who would fly home to be with his wife, who is expecting. He is supposed to come back as and when the playoffs start. The question, is who will Chennai Super Kings turn to in his absence? This is where they will feel the pinch of Bravo’s absence. David Hussey may be asked to fill the gap but given the way he performed the other day it will be hard for Dhoni to bet on him. One thing could be said for sure – the answers to these queries will determine how well the team will perform in the days to come.