Jadeja & Co pin KKR before Gaikwad finishes the job

replay of , Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Group B, Asia Cup 2022, Dubai, August 27, 2022
Jadeja & Co pin KKR before Gaikwad finishes the job

Chennai Super Kings 141 for 3 (Gaikwad 67, Arora 2-28) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 137 for 9 (Iyer 34, Jadeja 3-18, Deshpande 3-33, Mustafizur 2-22) by seven wickets

After two back-to-back defeats on the road, Chennai Super Kings returned to the comforts of home and to winning ways, consigning Kolkata Knight Riders to their first loss of IPL 2024.

On a surface that was typical of the one we have been used to at Chepauk in seasons past, CSK bowled first and restricted KKR to 137 for 9. This after KKR had raced to 56 for 1 in the powerplay. But as the ball got older, the CSK bowlers, led by Ravindra Jadeja who picked 3 for 18, came into their own.

In the chase, Ruturaj Gaikwad got back into form, shepherding the innings with an unbeaten 58-ball 67 to take CSK over the line with seven wickets and 14 balls to spare. He added 70 off 55 balls with Daryl Mitchell (25 off 19) before Shivam Dube came in and tonked 28 off 18 to take CSK closer.

With three to win, in walked MS Dhoni, causing bedlam in the Chepauk stands. But it was Gaikwad who fittingly finished off the chase by crashing Anukul Roy through covers.

Gaikwad’s welcome return to form

It hasn’t been the strongest of starts for Gaikwad in IPL 2024. Coming into the game, he had only managed 88 runs in four innings, averaging 22 in the tournament. But with a modest target in front of him, he bedded in for the long haul. After a watchful first over, he got going with a ramp off Vaibhav Arora and moved from 4 off 9 to 32 off 23 by the end of the powerplay.

The early impetus was provided by Rachin Ravindra who went after Mitchell Starc, but once he fell, Gaikwad made sure to keep the things moving forward. With Ajinkya Rahane struggling with a calf strain, he had additional responsibility and took up the role well.

Gaikwad took on the left-arm spin of Anukul Roy, backing away first ball of the fifth over and creaming him through covers. He repeated those shots twice over before smashing Vaibhav Arora for two back-to-back fours. CSK had raced to 52 for 1 at the end of the powerplay.

CSK make it 3/3 at home

Gaikwad got excellent support from Mitchell and Dube in helping CSK get over the line. Mitchell, promoted up the order to No. 3, hit his straps by thumping Sunil Narine for a six and four immediately after the powerplay. The duo did not always keep the boundaries flowing but they kept the scoreboard ticking. In the 36 balls between overs six to 12, they scored 44 runs – 17 singles, five doubles, two fours and one six – and that was all CSK needed as the asking run rate crept below the six an over mark.

Once Mitchell fell, it was the Dube show as he continued his merry run in IPL 2024. He hammered Varun Chakravarthy for back-to-back sixes and then muscled Arora for another one over deep midwicket. Dube is the current leading run-scorer for CSK this season and has a strike rate of 193.93 against all spinners. On Monday, he only enhanced his credentials. It didn’t take long for CSK to finish off the chase after Dube fell, wrapping up the game in 17.4 overs.

Sunil Narine – the powerplay king

After losing the toss and a wicket off the first ball of the game, KKR were propped up by Sunil Narine, their powerplay wrecker-in-chief this season. He went after Tushar Deshpande in his second over. A four through square leg, one over mid-off and then a six over deep square – Narine was up and away. Not even a shoulder injury seemed to stop him.

During his innings, Narine also went past Virat Kohli to now have the most runs in the powerplay this season – 127 at a strike rate of 201.58. He found an ally in Angkrish Raghuvanshi, who continued on from his debut innings as the duo added 56 runs off 36 balls for the second wicket.

The slowdown courtesy Ravindra Jadeja

The CSK spinners had not picked up a single wicket at Chepauk in the first two matches there in IPL 2024. And Jadeja seemed to take it personally. He picked up three wickets in his first eight balls of the match, putting a big dent in the KKR middle order.

He first sent back Raghuvanshi, who shaped up for a reverse sweep, missed and was caught right in front. Then he got rid of Narine for the fourth time in five T20 innings, the batter slicing a length ball straight to long-off. Venkatesh Iyer was Jadeja’s third victim holing out to deep midwicket with Mitchell taking a good catch diving forward. Normally Jadeja’s plan in these conditions is to be as accurate as possible. Here he knew he had to do one other thing as well. Not bowl full. Let the natural variation that this pitch was offering do its thing.

After scoring 56 in the first six overs, KKR only managed 43 in the next nine, losing four wickets in the process.

The quicks go slow

Once 15 overs were done, Gaikwad got the fast bowlers into play, and they relied more on the cutters. Deshpande had Rinku Singh chopping one back onto his stumps before Mustafizur Rahman took over. He might have been coming off a long run-up but got slower cutters in, which would have made any slow left-arm orthodox spinner proud.

He delivered a stellar final over picking up two wickets and conceding just two runs. While Deshpande finished with 3 for 33 off his four overs, Mustafizur picked 2 for 22, and became the highest wicket-taker in the competition. Sixteen of the 24 balls delivered by the duo in the last four overs were cutters, and KKR had no clue.

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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