By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
Promoted to open the batting, Rahul Tripathi utilised the golden opportunity by slamming a career-best 81 to place Kolkata Knight Riders in a position of strength. Then their bowlers took over to earn a thrilling ten-run victory over Chennai Super Kings in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Ranchi-born smashed 81 off 51 balls to help KKR reach 167. Despite a flying start, CSK fell apart during the chase and were restricted to 157 for 5 in 20 overs enabling the two-time IPL champions to notch up their third win this season.
Tripathi cracked eight fours and three sixes to justify his promotion. The tall right-hander provided a decent start and added 37 runs for the first wicket with in-form Shubman Gill (11: 12 balls, 1×4) after Dinesh Karthik opted to bat. Tripathy, who plays domestic cricket for Maharashtra, was also involved in a fruitful alliance with Sunil Narine who batted at No. 4.
Tripathi, who earlier represented Rising Pune Supergiants and Rajasthan Royals, displayed brilliant shots particularly on the on-side to complete his maiden half-century.
Shockingly, KKR scored only 39 runs and lost 6 wickets in the final five overs. Pat Cummins played a couple of big shots and remained unbeaten on 17 which came off just nine balls. Dwayne Bravo was the pick of the CSK bowlers with 3-37.
Chasing a challenging target of 168, CSK were provided with a superb start once again by Shane Watson (50: 40 balls, 6×4, 1×6) and Faf du Plessis (17: 10 balls, 3×4). The experienced opening pair, which set a record-breaking partnership of unbeaten 181 runs against the KXIP, looked like continuing from where it had left in the last outing. The two added 30 in just 3.4 overs before du Plessis was caught behind by Dinesh Karthik off young seamer Shivam Mavi.
Ambati Rayudu then joined Watson and maintained the momentum with steady flow of runs. At one stage when CSK were 99 for 1 at the end of 12 overs, it looked as if they would romp home quite easily.
The fall of Rayudu (30: 27 balls, 3×4) triggered the collapse. Soon after, Watson departed to Sunil Narine falling leg before. MS Dhoni came up in the batting order but the move backfired. His scratchy 11 off 12 balls added more pressure on the lower-order.
The 17th over bowled by Andre Russel proved a game changer as the big speedster conceded just three runs. With 36 from the last two overs and 26 from the final over, KKR bowlers rose to the occasion and bowled their side to a memorable ten-run win.
With this fantastic win, KKR jumped to the third spot in the points table with six points from five matches. CSK suffered their fourth defeat in six games and were on the fifth spot,
On Thursday, Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on Kings XI Punjab at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 167 in 20 overs (Rahul Tripathi 81, Pat Cummins 17 not out, Sunil Narine 17, Dinesh Karthik 12, Shubman Gill 11; Dwayne Bravo 3-37, Karn Sharma 2-25, Sam Curran 2-26, Shardul Thakur 2-28) beat Chennai Super Kings 157 for 5 in 20 overs (Shane Watson 50, Ambati Rayudu 30, Ravindra Jadeja 21 not out, Faf du Plessis 17, Sam Curran 17, MS Dhoni 11, Kedar Jadhav 7 not out; Andre Russel 1-18, Kamlesh Nagarkoti 1-21, Varun Chakravarthy 1-28, Sunil Narine 1-31, Shivam Mavi 1-32) by 10 runs. Man-of-the-match: Rahul Tripathi (KKR).