The Indian Premier League returned to India after being forced to stage a majority of the last two editions overseas. Moreover, the spectators returned to the stands, with Wankhede Stadium’s upper tiers virtually turning into a sea of yellow.
M.S. Dhoni’s unbeaten fifty gave the spectators more reason to rejoice than dancing to the beats of popular Bollywood numbers. Still, it was Umesh Yadav and Ajinkya Rahane who ensured that the night belonged to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Riding on Umesh’s fiery spell, Knight Riders stifled the Chennai Super Kings innings. So much was the impact of Umesh’s twin strikes up front and the good work of mystery spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy in the middle that the Super Kings could never take off until the last three overs. Despite Dhoni and captain Ravindra Jadeja amassing 47 runs in the last three overs off Shivam Mavi and Andre Russell combined, all that the defending champion could manage was 131 for five.
Rahane justified the faith showed in him by his new franchise with a knock that ensured Knight Riders avenged the last year’s final loss without a stutter.
Rahane’s pull off Adam Milne that sailed into the second tier over square-leg will be remembered as much as Dhoni’s whip off Russell in the last over of the essay. Despite Rahane perishing in a soft manner six short of a deserving fifty, captain Shreyas Iyer ensured that Knight Riders crossed the line with nine balls and six wickets to spare.
The tone of the night was set up by a fiery Umesh up front. Having been benched all through the 2021 edition by Delhi Capitals, Umesh marked his return to his former team in style. Umesh’s pace and swing was too hot to handle for the CSK openers.
Ruturaj Gaikwad edged one to Nitish Rana at first slip, while Devon Conway’s IPL debut resulted in a chip to mid-on in the fifth over after being troubled by Umesh all along.
Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu did look at their best but Uthappa was sharply stumped by Sheldon Jackson, who last played an IPL game in 2017, down the leg off Varun Chakravarthy.
Dhoni then joined Jadeja in the middle but both the seasoned batters were tied down by a clinical Knight Riders unit. The Knight Riders were so impressive that they didn’t let Dhoni and Jadeja rotate the strike.
Chennai Super Kings Innings: Ruturaj Gaikwad c Nitish Rana b Umesh 0 Devon Conway c Shreyas Iyer b Umesh 3 Robin Uthappa st Jackson b Chakaravarthy 28 Ambati Rayudu run out (Shreyas Iyer/Narine) 15 Ravindra Jadeja not out 26 Shivam Dube c Narine b Russell 3 MS Dhoni not out 50 Extras: (W-4, NB-2) 6
Total: (5 wkts, 20 Overs) 131
Fall of Wickets: 1-2, 2-28, 3-49, 4-52, 5-61
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Umesh Yadav 4-0-20-2, Shivam Mavi 4-0-35-0, Varun Chakaravarthy 4-0-23-1, Sunil Narine 4-0-15-0, Andre Russe 4-0-38
Kolkata Knight Riders Innings: Ajinkya Rahane c Ravindra Jadeja b Santner 44 Venkatesh Iyer c Dhoni b DJ Bravo 16 Nitish Rana c Rayudu b DJ Bravo 21 Shreyas Iyer not out 20 Sam Billings c Tushar Deshpande b DJ Bravo 25 Sheldon Jackson not out 3 Extras: (B-4) 4
Total: (4 wkts, 18.3 Overs) 133
Fall of Wickets: 43-1, 76-2, 87-3, 123-4
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Tushar Deshpande 3-0-23-0, Adam Milne 2.3-0-19-0, Mitchell Santner 4-0-31-1, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-20-3, Shivam Dube 1-0-11-0, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-25-0.