It was a night of comebacks, from the two bowling sides, as Chennai Super Kings took on the Kolkata Knight Riders in Match 21 of IPL 2020 in Abu Dhabi.
Winning the toss and electing to bat first, KKR did what many have been saying should have been done a long time ago - pushing Sunil Narine down the order after multiple failures in the opening slot.
Instead out walked Rahul Tripathi and Shubman Gill.
Some of Tripathi’s best knocks in the IPL have come as opener and he made most of the opportunity on Wednesday night as well. Calm and collected he waited for chances to smack the ball to the boundary.
Tripathi took the lead in run scoring with Gill and then Nitish Rana struggling to score runs.
Gill was dismissed for 11 off 12 balls by Shardul Thakur in the 5th over and Rana departed in the 9th over after having made 9 off 10 balls.
Narine was sent out at number 4 and after making 17 off 9 balls, which included a four and a six, he became Karn Sharma’s second wicket of the night as Ravindra Jadeja and Faf du Plessis combined at the boundary for a great catch.
Tripathi had kept up the momentum and taken 31 off 18 balls at the end of the power play, ensuring that after 11 overs, KKR were poised at a healthy 98/3 - the platform set for the likes of Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell to do some damage.
However, that’s when the Chennai bowlers came roaring back into the match.
Before the 16th over was complete, CSK had made sure that Morgan and Russell were both back in the pavilion having failed to inflict the middle-order hitting that is characteristic of both batsmen.
Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur continued Karn Sharma’s good work with tight overs and regular wickets.
Morgan fell in the 14th over, gloving a bouncer from Curran behind, CSK celebrating keeping the dangerous batsman quiet with just 7 runs off 10 balls.
Russell went in a similar manner to Thakur in the 16th over for 2 off 4 balls.
A tired Tripathi fell in the next over to Bravo for a well-made 81 off 51 balls. KKR 140/6 after 16.5 overs at this stage, hoping desperately for someone to provide them a big finish.
The big finish never came as the woefully out of form Dinesh Karthik and the KKR bowlers all failed to cross 20 runs.
The Super Kings bowlers had done an excellent job to keep Kolkata to 167 in 20 overs when a total closer to 200 had at one point seemed very much on the cards.
Chennai began the chase well and looked to be cruising towards yet another win as Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis continued their good form from their previous outing against the Kings XI Punjab.
Du Plessis was going well before edging a wide one from Shivam Mavi behind for 17 off 10 balls.
However, his departure did little to break Chennai’s momentum as Ambati Rayudu joined Watson in the middle to pick up where du Plessis left off.
The duo put on 69 runs for the second wicket before Kamlesh Nagarkoti brought Rayudu’s innings to an end with the batsman holing out to Gill at long-on. At this stage CSK needed 69 needed off 47 balls and had eight wickets in hand.
That’s when KKR’s clever bowling tactics began to pay dividends and their brilliant stranglehold on CSK’s batsmen ensured that what should have been an easy win for Chennai never came.
Narine accounted for Watson, out for 50 off 40 balls in the 14th over. In fact, Narine's first two overs went for just eight runs.
Three overs later, Varun Chakravarthy accounted for a rusty looking MS Dhoni - CSK 129/4.
Karthik then brought on Andre Russell for the first time on the night in the 18th over and the bid West Indian delivered the very first ball with the wicket of Sam Curran, who had started looking dangerous after smacking Narine for a four and a six.
Russell then proceeded to bowl an extremely tight over, giving away just three runs.
As the required run rate began increasing Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja failed to find a way to get the KKR bowlers away to the boundary.
Jadeja managed some quick runs, including two fours off Narine and then 6,4,4 off Russell’s last three balls of the match but it was all too little too late as KKR’s bowlers made sure CSK fell 10 runs short of the target.
The win put Kolkata in third place in the IPL points table with Rahul Tripathi earning himself a Man of the Match award.