Hussey throws spanners in KKR works
Chennai Super Kings 200 for 3 (Hussey 95, Raina 44) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 186 for 4 (Bisla 92) by 14 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In the searing heat of Chennai, the home side, Chennai Super Kings, soared to the top of the table with a 14-run win over the defending champions, Kolkata Knight Riders. Michael Hussey and the newcomer Wriddhiman Saha stunned the visitors with a 103-run opening stand, Hussey continued hurting them even after the loss of Saha, and the run rate hovered around 10. Hussey missed the century by five runs, but he had set up a daunting task for Knight Riders, who had asked the hosts to bat first.
Sunil Narine and Jacques Kallis both registered their second-worst analyses in IPL, going for 35 and 51 respectively. Like in the final of the last IPL at the same venue, Manvinder Bisla scored 92 - he was out on 43 but not given, which kept Knight Riders fighting, but the target was too big, especially with next to little support from the other end.
Coming in ahead of M Vijay, who had scored only 122 runs in eight matches at a strike rate of less than a run a ball, Saha, the Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman, was the surprise package. And Hussey, he was just Hussey. He began with a flick off a loose delivery down the leg side, and then hit L Balaji for three consecutive fours - two of them over extra cover, and one edged through slip.
Saha then went after his Bengal team-mate Shami Ahmed, taking four, four and six in the fourth over. After Hussey took Narine apart in the fifth over, and Saha did the same to Kallis in the sixth, Super Kings had registered their best Powerplay of this season, 67 for 0. Hussey reached his fifty as early as the eighth over, and despite the oppressive heat he kept converting every one-and-a-half into two.
Saha's wicket came and went, but the run rate refused to go down. Hussey's wicket came and went - agonisingly short of the milestone and off a long hop - but even that didn't slow the run rate down. When it did seem to slow down, MS Dhoni got a full toss off the last ball of the innings, and duly took six.
Knight Riders got a good start with an extras-ridden opening over by Dirk Nannes, but Chris Morris soon removed Gautam Gambhir. Bisla, struggling at that time, got going with four fours off Morris in the fifth over, but at the other end Brendon McCullum played Mohit Sharma on to make it 63 for 2 after six overs.
An ideal period followed for Super Kings as Kallis and Bisla both struggled to hit the boundaries or alternate the strike, and by the time the next boundary was hit, a six off the last ball of the 10th over, the asking rate had reached 11.6.
The pressure resulted in mistakes, but in the next two overs Dhoni missed a stumping and the third umpire refused to acknowledge a run-out, a result of a canny deflection from Dhoni. Kallis soon fell to an ungainly ramp, leaving about 13 an over, which would soon cross 15. Bisla and Eoin Morgan gave the target a fair go, bringing it down to 29 off the last two overs, but Hussey once again killed it off with a direct hit from mid-on.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo