IPL 2018: Happy homecoming for Chennai Super Kings
Sam Billings, light of feet and quick in mind, innovated and created. Then that man Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja delivered the final blows.
And a throbbing sea of yellow in the stands celebrated as Chennai Super Kings chased down a daunting 203 to overcome Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in the IPL duel at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
The seasoned Vinay Kumar’s first delivery off the final over — CSK needed 17 from the last six balls — a no-ball for height was swung by Bravo for a six.
The home side was home with a delivery remaining after Jadeja blasted Vinay over wide long-on.
The adventurous Billings, with a blazing 56 off just 23 deliveries, emerged the hero in his first game for the host. He picked gaps on the on-side and powered the ball over covers.
Knight Riders would rue the lapse when Robin Uthappa put Billings down at wide mid-off; the batsman was on nine then.
Billings then raised hopes in the CSK camp with several shots, including a scooped six off Andre Russell followed by a straight hit. The shouts of “CSK, CSK” were back.
M.S. Dhoni wristed Kuldeep Yadav for a rousing six over mid-wicket, rotated the strike and ran hard between the wickets.
CSK had raced away at the start, with the big Shane Watson biffing the ball over the ropes and the little Ambati Rayudu punching above his weight.
The PowerPlay fetched the host a whopping 75 runs. Dinesh Karthik held back Sunil Narine and Kuldeep, and runs dried up once the two came on. However, CSK had the final say.
In the first half of the game, after Dhoni opted to chase, Russell’s blitzkrieg held the audience spellbound. His 36-ball unbeaten 88 contained an astonishing 11 sixes. He was much like a heavyweight puncher prowling around in the ring.
Russell’s onslaught was brutal. He picked the length quickly and used his long reach to bludgeon the ball. He was devoid of any trigger movement, and clinical with his execution.
The powerfully-built Jamaican struck the ball with enormous force, often plonking his front foot forward, picking the ball from off, and swinging it over mid-wicket.
He was expansive on the off-side as well, a cover-driven six off Watson landing in the crowd.
In an engaging face-off between two West Indians, Russell blasted Bravo for three successive sixes — a whip beyond mid-wicket, a ‘falling’ swipe over long-on and a contemptuous pull.
Shardul Thakur was ruthlessly dismissed for the maximum over extra-cover and wide long-off in the final over.
Karthik wisely played second fiddle. But then, this turned out to be CSK’s night. And what a night!