Kolkata Knight Riders 169 for 3 (Uthappa 80*, Russell 55*) beat Chennai Super Kings 165 for 9 (McCullum 32, Hogg 4-29) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Brad Hogg was looping the ball up, spinning it both ways and smothering the batsman in his own uncertainty. The result was 14 dot balls, four wickets, and only 29 runs given away. Chennai Super Kings' spinners, despite 165 to defend, were flat - both with their lengths and their intent. Their six overs cost 48 runs and a catch off a long hop and the reason for such figures were Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell, who helped themselves to unbeaten half-centuries and a seven-wicket victory.
That the winning runs were scored with only a ball remaining should not take anything away from Knight Riders' dominance. Batting had not been easy on a slow Eden Gardens pitch that was almost nepotistic towards spin. Given those conditions, and a required rate above eight, Uthappa, with 80 off 58, and Russell, with 55 off 32, were excellent.
Poking around against the turning ball was not an option. Riding it out wasn't one either considering Dhoni's prowess in squeezing a side with his slower bowlers. The best way forward was to deflect the pressure back. The 41 singles that Russell and Uthappa took played into that plan as much as the 15 boundaries they struck.
It was apparent that Knight Riders were fueled by the Chennai defeat and did not want a repeat. Gautam Gambhir had admitted too many batsmen had got stuck two days ago when they could not chase down 134. On Thursday, Russell was pushed up to No.5 to beat the spinners off their lengths and it worked like a charm.
Not that there weren't any chances created. Pawan Negi made a sound first appearance of the season - 1 for 23 and could have had another had Dhoni been able to convert a stumping when Uthappa was on 28. As much of a problem was Ravindra Jadeja at the other end, tricked into bowling quicker and flatter than necessary and leaked 25 off his two overs.
Ideally, Knight Riders would have preferred a smaller target. But Super Kings' ample batting resources allowed them to play like a car without brakes careening downhill. Nine fours, three sixes and 64 runs were found in the first five overs. And then came a Hogg-shaped speed bump. Brendon McCullum, who had bashed his way to 32 off 12, was thrown out of the driver's seat, Faf du Plessis had barely settled in when he was hoodwinked by a googly and Dhoni walked out with the score on 69 for 4 to a slip, silly point, short leg and leg slip.
Hogg was liberal with his googly, often packing three in an over, with the Super Kings batsmen failing to pick them. Dwayne Bravo and Jadeja were among them. But they persevered to add 57 runs off 58 balls to fan hopes of a competitive total. The Kolkata crowd's nerves were stretched further when Negi hammered four fours and a six in a 13-ball 27. But Hogg was around again to restore parity, with a second double-strike in the 19th over.