Last-ball six keeps Chennai alive
Chennai Super Kings 160 for 5 (Hussey 56, Narine 2-14) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 158 for 6 (Gambhir 62, Jakati 2-26) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
With Chennai Super Kings needing five runs to win off the final delivery, Rajat Bhatia, who had bowled MS Dhoni and conceded only four from the previous five balls, bowled a full toss. Dwayne Bravo, who had missed a heave off the fifth ball, heaved again, and this time he hit the ball high into the night sky. Kolkata Knight Riders' captain Gautam Gambhir, fielding in the circle, kept his eyes fixed on the ball as it began its descent, and grimaced as he watched it fall agonisingly out of reach of his fielder at long-on, and just over the boundary. The Super Kings were out of the dug out, craning their necks to see where the ball landed, and once they saw it was a match-winning six, there were several streaks of yellow speeding to embrace Bravo. He was standing there with arms aloft, having taken Super Kings to No. 4 with only one league game remaining.
Had the match been tied, it would have been less of a surprise, for Super Kings' chase had followed a pattern eerily similar to Knight Riders' first innings.
In pursuit of 159, Michael Hussey and M Vijay added 97 runs in 10.1 overs before Sunil Narine, who continued to confound batsmen with his variations during his spell of 4-0-14-2, dismissed both of them in the space of three balls. Hussey had demonstrated impeccable timing on a pitch that demanded application, hitting four sixes in a half-century that threatened to make short work of the chase, before he top-edged a sweep. Vijay was bowled trying to cut a straight one.
When Knight Riders had been sent in after losing the toss, Gambhir and Brendon McCullum had set off at breakneck speed, adding 99 in 11.2 overs before they were dismissed in the space of five deliveries. Gambhir scored his sixth half-century of the season and took charge of accelerating his team's innings while McCullum played second fiddle, relatively speaking. They were setting Knight Riders for a formidable total when McCullum was run-out and Gambhir was bowled after the ball came off his inside-edge and pad, gone for 62 off 43 balls.
With the Knight Riders openers gone and two new batsmen at the crease, Super Kings began to drag the run-rate back, by striking regularly. The hosts slipped from 99 for 0 to 128 for 5. Jacques Kallis was unlucky to be given caught behind while sweeping, because the ball came off the arm, and Yusuf Pathan hit his customary solitary six before holing out to Bravo on the long-on boundary. Bravo caught Manoj Tiwary there soon after and Knight Riders were eventually kept to 158.
Super Kings went down the same path. After the Hussey-Vijay stand, they were slowed down and then lost Suresh Raina to a run out in the 14th over. MS Dhoni played out four consecutive dot balls against L Balaji as the gap between runs required and balls remaining began to grow. Balaji conceded two runs off the 14th over, and Bhatia five in the next. Super Kings now needed 44 off 30 balls.
After the 17th over of the first innings, Knight Riders had been 127 for 4. After the 17th over of the chase, Super Kings were 127 for 3. They lost Faf du Plessis to the first ball of the 18th. With 27 needed off the last two overs, Dhoni changed the course of the chase. He nearly beheaded Marchant de Lange, such was the ferocity with which he clubbed the first ball to the straight boundary. The next was a full toss that disappeared through deep midwicket and the third was a towering six over long-on.
Super Kings were favourites, needing only nine to get off the final over, but Dhoni was bowled off its second ball, missing Bhatia's slower ball. Bhatia went on to bowl three more exceptional deliveries, but his last was the full toss that allowed Super Kings to move to No. 4 in the league.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo