Gambhir continues Kolkata's success
Kolkata Knight Riders 140 for 5 (Gambhir 63, Ashwin 2-22) beat Chennai Super Kings 139 for 5 (Raina 44, Kallis 2-21) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kolkata Knight Riders continued their impressive run, picking up a hard-fought win over the defending champions with an all-round performance that included a disciplined effort with the ball and another Gautam Gambhir-anchored batting display. Each of his four half-centuries have contributed to wins for his team and yet again, on a slow track, Gambhir guided the chase with determination. With the ball keeping low and not coming on well enough, Chennai Super Kings managed a par score but it was to be insufficient, with their opponents, largely, ensuring the mistakes made by batsmen in the first innings were not repeated.
The game went in to the last over but the Knight Riders were on top for 18 overs in the chase. Gambhir approached the target positively, dispatching the bad balls with ease, not taking any undue risks, knowing that there was ammunition down the order even if some momentum was lost in the quest for stability. He lost Brendon McCullum early, but, after two boundaries through the off side, settled down to build a steady stand of 70 with Jacques Kallis.
While there was a regular flow of singles, Gambhir and Kallis did indulge in some power-play, keeping the required-rate well in control. Kallis slog-swept R Ashwin over square leg, Gambhir charged out and launched Shadab Jakati over long-on and the Super Kings bowlers didn't help their case with a spate of wides, eight of them in all. Extras aside, the pair ran 32 singles and two twos, using their feet well, playing the ball late, using the sweep, cuts and dabs in a period of busy accumulation. The required-rate rose when Kallis fell, and the equation was 48 off 36, but Dwayne Bravo gave width, and then dropped too short, to be punished for consecutive fours by Gambhir on either side of the pitch.
With 16 needed off 12, the Knight Riders were still in control but the fall of Gambhir, trapped in front while trying to swing Bravo over midwicket, caused a scare in the visitors' camp. Debabrata Das put that to temporary rest, flicking his first ball past short fine for four and then erased it completely following another failure from Yusuf Pathan, smashing Ashwin over midwicket for four to finish the game. That role in the finish prompted Gambhir to hand over his Man-of-the-Match award to Das.
Greater maturity in batting and a superior performance in the field were two significant factors that separated the teams. While Super Kings missed out on chances to run-out Gambhir and Kallis, Brett Lee was excellent in catching Michael Hussey short early after the hosts chose to bat. Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo had helped Super Kings recover with a 42-run stand, one that should have continued in its steady vein for a few more overs. But the two couldn't wait to infuse the innings with more urgency. Both fell to Kallis, who mixed up his pace well; a slower one was holed out to long-on by Bravo and, in Kallis' next over, Raina's slog only went as far as midwicket.
The spin pair of Iqbal Abdulla and Sunil Narine, together with Rajat Bhatia's dibbly-dobblies, kept further check on Super Kings, doing their bit to produce a boundary-drought of 47 deliveries. Stepping up proved a difficult job but even though Super Kings took 21 off the final two overs, it wasn't enough to withstand a controlled response from Knight Riders.
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo