ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Chennai Super Kings’ batsmen yet again stumbled in the middle overs as Kolkata Knight Riders eased to 10-run victory in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday.
Chennai was cruising along at 99-1 in 12 overs before reaching 157-5 with Andre Russell (1-18) and Sunil Narine (1-31) bowling superbly in the death overs.
“In the middle overs, there was a phase when they bowled two, three good overs,” said Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who himself struggled during that phase and labored to 11 off 12 balls. “If our batting was different during that period, the result would have been different. The bowlers did well … but the batsmen let the bowlers down.”
Kolkata was earlier dismissed for 167, thanks to opening batsman Rahul Tripathi’s knock of 81 off 51 balls as Dwayne Bravo celebrated his 37th birthday with 3-37.
“There are some key players and Sunil Narine is one of us,” said Kolkata captain Dinesh Karthik, who won the toss and opted to bat.
“I am really proud of him as a player. We thought we will ease Sunny’s pressure a little bit and send Rahul up. Our batting is very fluid. I started at 3, I am batting at 7. That is the good thing. Over the years fluid lineups have done better.”
Shane Watson (50) scored his second successive half century and Ambati Rayudu made 30 before both got dismissed in successive overs, which derailed Chennai’s run-chase.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s, who earlier took four catches behind the wickets in Kolkata's innings, hit only one boundary before he was clean bowled by left-arm spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
With 39 required off the last three overs, Russell had Sam Curran caught at extra cover off his first ball and gave away only three runs in the 18th over, which swung the pendulum heavily in Kolkata's favor.
Ravindra Jadeja (21 off 8 balls) hit Russell for 6-4-4 off the last three balls in the 20th over, but by that time the match was well within the grasp of Kolkata.
Earlier, Tripathi successfully replaced Narine at the top of the order after the West Indian left-hander had scored only 27 runs in the last four games as opener this season.
Chennai made a good recovery and bagged seven wickets for only 69 runs in the last nine overs as Kolkata lost wickets with regular intervals.
Tripathi hit eight fours and three sixes before he was caught at short third man while attempting to slice Bravo in the 17th over.
Leg-spinner Karn Sharma, playing his first game this season, claimed 2-25 while fast bowlers Curran (2-26) and Shardul Thakur (2-28) also chipped in with two wickets each.
With Wednesday’s win Kolkata moved to third in the points table with six points after playing five games. Chennai, one of the most experienced team in IPL, has won just two games out of six and has four points.
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