Manvinder Bisla’s reputation as a ‘miracle man’ in Chennai — after his exploits in the IPL final last year — must have hung around his neck like a millstone, particularly as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) embarked on a chase of 201 runs on Sunday.
But while he skilfully conducted an arduous pursuit, he was run-out in the penultimate over by a man who’s been Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) longstanding go-to man — Michael Hussey. It was thanks largely to his consummate flourish that Chennai posted the score it did.
Reducing the target to 29 in two overs, Bisla and Eoin Morgan appeared to be gaining ground.
But Bisla’s dismissal for 92, after a brilliant exposition of stroke-filled counter-attack, swung things in favour of the home side.
A target of 19 in the last over, thereby, proved unachievable owing to Chris Morris’ precision. Chennai retained control of its turf by 14 runs.
Earlier, Kolkata’s response began trenchantly as it kept pace with the opponent’s score. At the end of the Powerplay, KKR had lost captain Gautam Gambhir and Brendon McCullum for 63. But Jacques Kallis’ painful crawl fuelled the required run-rate.
CSK’s fielding gaffes — a dropped catch and a missed stumping to reprieve Kallis — were a blessing in disguise. By the time the South African departed in the 13th over, he had added only 36 runs in 38 balls along with Bisla.
In the afternoon, Gambhir elected to bowl; a decision his counterpart M.S. Dhoni hadn’t any complaints about. Despite the oppressive sun sucking energy, CSK’s batting engine — amply lubricated — crackled into a canorous roar.
Hussey opened the batting with Wriddhiman Saha and shot down the bowling like an accomplished bounty hunter. He attempted the snappy gallop against Balaji twice, finding the cover-fence on each occasion.
Soon, Hussey unpacked his signature wares: there were multiple helpings of the swivel-and-slap pull and the curtailed whack over mid-wicket.
Saha, replacing an injured M. Vijay, wouldn’t play the docile support act. He let loose some unrestrained drives over mid-off and mid-on off Mohammad Shami, his Bengal teammate. Together, Hussey and Saha raised 67 runs in six overs — CSK’s highest score in the Powerplay thus far this year.
Gambhir pressed into service five bowlers in six overs but to no avail. The partnership produced 103 runs in 61 balls, Saha’s dismissal barely disrupting the momentum. Run-plundering continued unabated with Hussey and Suresh Raina proving too rampant to contain.
Kolkata’s bowling, with the glowing exception of Rajat Bhatia, was toyed around with. Even the usually-mystifying Sunil Narine was decrypted by the left-handed pair.
Later, Dhoni ensured that a mini psychological battle was won with a six off the innings’ last ball.
Skipper Dhoni was fined for slow over rate as CSK was assessed to be two overs behind the required rate after allowances
Chennai Super Kings: Wriddhiman Saha c Morgan b Bhatia 39 (23b, 4x4, 2x6), Michael Hussey c Debabrata Das b Narine 95 (59b, 11x4, 2x6), Suresh Raina (run out) 44 (25b, 4x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 18 (12b, 1x4, 1x6), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-1, w-2): 3; Total (for three wkts. in 20 overs): 200.
Fall of wickets: 1-103 (Saha), 2-158 (Hussey), 3-190 (Raina).
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Yusuf Pathan 2-0-18-0, Mohammed Shami 2-0-20-0, L. Balaji 4-0-45-0, Sunil Narine 4-0-35-1, Jacques Kallis 4-0-50-0, Rajat Bhatia 4-0-31-1.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Manvinder Bisla (run out) 92 (61b, 14x4, 2x6), Gautam Gambhir b Morris 14 (8b, 3x4), Brendon McCullum b Mohit Sharma 6 (7b, 1x4), Jacques Kallis c Nannes b Bravo 19 (20b, 1x6), Eoin Morgan (not out) 32 (22b, 2x4, 2x6), Yusuf Pathan (not out) 3 (3b); Extras (b-4, lb-4, w-11, nb-1): 20; Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 186.
Fall of wickets: 1-32 (Gambhir), 2-63 (McCullum), 3-99 (Kallis), 4-178 (Bisla).
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Dirk Nannes 4-0-50-0, Mohit Sharma 4-0-23-1, Chris Morris 3-0-29-1, Ravindra Jadeja 2-0-13-0, R. Ashwin 3-0-26-0, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-37-1.
Man-of-the-match: Michael Hussey.