McCullum, Jadeja sink Knight Riders
Chennai Super Kings 148 for 3 (McCullum 56) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 114 for 9 (Uthappa 47, Jadeja 4-12) by 34 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Chennai Super Kings playbook has one abiding formula: a top-order contribution, a blitz from the finishers and a strangle by the spinners. Brendon McCullum took care of objective one with his third half-century in six matches, MS Dhoni swung his bat around to lift the total to 148 in a rain-reduced match and Ravindra Jadeja swindled 4 for 12 to down Kolkata Knight Riders with ease.
Robin Uthappa, who opened for Knight Riders, posed the greatest threat with his execution matching his intent. He crunched four fours and a six on either side of losing his partner Gautam Gambhir in the third over. He was conscious to use his feet, unafraid of going aerial and the reverse sweep was a trusted weapon as well. But his stroke-play coincided with a dreadful collapse at the other end. The introduction of spin left Knight Riders 39 for 4 at the end of the Powerplay, too deep a hole to escape from no matter how long Yusuf Pathan managed to biff the ball down the ground.
The Jadeja-R Ashwin combination plucked three wickets in five balls and Knight Riders' middle order was broken inside the first six overs. Uthappa waged his battle until he became Jadeja's fourth victim to hand the left-arm spinner the best figures of the season.
The start of the Indian leg of the IPL was delayed by an hour and 40 minutes after an unseasonal shower in Ranchi limited the game to 17 overs a side. Knight Riders utilised spin for the entirety of the Powerplay and were encouraged by some help from the pitch. But a persistence in pushing the balls through allowed McCullum to settle and shepherd Super Kings past the loss of Dwayne Smith in the third over.
Piyush Chawla was particularly adamant in refusing to flight the ball. Suresh Raina and McCullum had no qualms with that as they joined hands for a brisk 70-run stand for the second wicket. The introduction of pace did little to stem the flow of runs as Vinay Kumar fed McCullum with a steady diet of short balls that ended up being thudded into the midwicket boundary. The five overs between the eighth and 12th yielded 51 runs for one wicket.
Sunil Narine was his usual miserly self and Super Kings seemed to be running out of gas in the final overs, especially when McCullum was caught in the deep for 56. But some initiative and wayward bowling from Andre Russell, who was brought in for Morne Morkel, allowed the home side to finish on a high.
Those extra runs ensured Yusuf's late pummeling in the Knight Riders' chase was inconsequential. He blazed three sixes in the penultimate over and each of them gave the fielder no chance. Knight Riders would hope the next time he wields the long handle, the equation will not read 59 off 12.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo