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Ashwin, Raina humble Kolkata

Posted by James On 11:34 AM 0 comments

Chennai Super Kings 143 for 1 (Raina 78*, Vijay 50*) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 139 for 8 (Mathews 48, Ashwin 3-16, Bollinger 2-15 ) by nine wickets

Chennai Super Kings, inspired equally by R Ashwin, Suresh Raina and M Vijay, crushed a scruffy Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in front of a throbbing, partisan home crowd. After Ashwin, who for the second consecutive game grabbed two wickets in an over, led the attack in keeping Kolkata to a paltry 139 for 8, Raina and M Vijay launched a powerful assault on a weary attack to see Chennai home with 6.2 overs to spare and propel them to second place in the points table.

The unbeaten stand between Raina and Vijay raised the fastest team hundred of the IPL and the pair made the same surface, on which Kolkata struggled, appear a concrete strip. With another disappointing performance Kolkata are now perilously close to being knocked out. In a crunch game, Ashwin took the new ball and rocked the top order during a mesmerising spell after Sourav Ganguly opted to bat on a surface he reckoned would assist spin later in the night. The first over suggested spin would play a role quicker than that, but at 11 for 0 after two overs Ganguly couldn't have envisioned what lay in store.

Having nonchalantly dumped the first ball of the third over for a straight six, Chris Gayle repeated the shot and was stumped. Brendon McCullum survived a very good shout second ball when he missed Ashwin's version of the carrom ball, but two balls later was gobbled up at short fine leg when he top-edged a sweep. Ganguly was the next to go, unfortunate because of a poor call, when Doug Bollinger got into the act with a full ball that was missing leg stump.

Seventeen for 3 became 19 for 4 thanks to a brilliant reaction from MS Dhoni. Ashwin speared the ball down David Hussey's pads and as the batsman fell forward, Dhoni collected and broke the stumps. Hussey's back foot had just failed to get back in, and Ashwin let out a war cry. Dhoni stuck in a leg gully to go with slip for hat-trick delivery, and Ashwin delivered a ripper. It pitched and turned down the pads and as it spun down the ball kissed Angelo Mathews' gloves to the catcher around the corner. Ashwin and the Chennai fielders sprung up in celebration but the hat-trick was denied by a stone-faced Simon Taufel.

Kolkata stumbled to 22 for 4 after six overs, which was the lowest total in a Powerplay, and Ashwin bowled out for the fantastic figures of 3 for 16. Of his 24 deliveries, 16 were dot balls. Angelo Mathews and Manoj Tiwary revived matters somewhat with a 73-run stand, taking Muttiah Muralitharan for four and six in each of his first two overs. Chennai, however, had too much in reserve. Raina came on and had Tiwary miscuing a flat-batted shot to long-on, and Wriddhiman Saha followed when Dhoni pulled off another swift stumping off Shadab Jakati's left-arm spin. Bollinger finished off with exceptional figures of 4-1-15-2 and a total of 139, aided by 20 extras, was nowhere near enough.

Kolkata needed early wickets, but after Gayle bowled Matthew Hayden in the first over, Raina and Vijay made short work of a small target. Raina took four delicate boundaries off Ashok Dinda before smashing three in a row off Gayle, and Chennai raced to 60 off five overs. Such was Raina's dazzling performance that his fifty came up off 24 balls. Once again, the trademark flicks, inside-out drives and heaved sixes were on ample display.

Kolkata's bowlers found the pitch in no mood to be as friendly as it had been to their counterparts, offering little turn and no bite. After initially playing second fiddle Vijay opened up the 11th over, cracking Hussey for 17 runs. As fours and sixes flew across the field, Kolkata fell to pieces, serving up half-trackers and full tosses regularly and fumbling in the outfield with regularity. A couple of sixes to each batsman put the seal on an emphatic display.

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