The Kolkata Knight Riders romped to a comfortable six-wicket
win over the Chennai Super Kings in the curtain-raiser for the 15th edition of
the Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The Knight Riders
made full use of the two-paced pitch to restrict Chennai to just 131 in the
first innings despite a vintage half-century from MS Dhoni before contributions
from Ajinkya Rahane and Sam Billings took Shreyas Iyer’s side home with nine
Having won the toss and opted to bowl, KKR wreaked havoc
with the new ball thanks to a sensational opening burst from Umesh Yadav.
Playing only his third IPL game in the last three years, Yadav removed both CSK
openers in the powerplay as Ruturaj Gaikwad was caught expertly by Nitish Rana
at first slip for a duck before Devon Conway mistimed a leg-side swat to mid-on
on his IPL debut.
CSK only managed 35 runs for the loss of two wickets in the
first six overs and struggled even more thereafter as KKR’s mystery spin duo of
Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy entered the attack. Robin Uthappa raced to
28 off 21 with some neat strokes against the pacers but was undone by some
excellent glovework and bowling from Sheldon Jackson and Varun Chakravarthy.
Narine and Chakravarthy’s tight spells caused further indecision in the CSK
ranks as Ravindra Jadeja suffered a mix-up with Ambati Rayudu in the middle
before Shivam Dube was bounced out by Andre Russell in the 11th over, leaving
the defending champions reeling at 61 for five.
Chennai went 48 deliveries through the middle overs without
finding a boundary, but MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja eventually broke the
shackles at the death to score 47 off the last three overs. Dhoni took full
advantage of some full-tosses served up by Shivam Mavi and Andre Russell to
reach his 50 off 38 deliveries, while Ravindra Jadeja struck a six off the
final ball off the innings to take Chennai to a respectable score of 131.
In response, KKR got off to the perfect start to their
modest run-chase as Ajinkya Rahane punished Tushar Deshpande and Adam Milne
with some crisp drives off the front foot and a fantastic leg-side pull.
Rahane’s polished stroke-making took the Knight Riders to 43 for no loss after
the powerplay, but Kolkata stuttered through the middle overs as Dwayne Bravo
removed Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana in quick succession before Ajinkya
Rahane pulled Mitchell Santner to short mid-wicket on 44.
Chennai dried up the runs expertly to leave KKR in a spot of
bother with 25 needed off 27 deliveries, but Sam Billings eased the nerves with
a couple of boundaries against Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo. Although Billings holed
out in the deep to become Bravo’s third victim of the night, the Englishman
closed the door of any possible CSK comeback with his 22-ball 25, helping KKR begin
their IPL 2022 journey with a victory.