Kolkata: Imran Tahir (4/27) spun a web before Suresh Raina (58 n o, 42b, 7×4, 1×6) found his mojo back with a half century as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) inched closer towards another Play off qualification with a five-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in an IPL match, Sunday.
After Tahir’s career-best figures restricted KKR to 161/8, CSK coasted to the target in 19.4 overs as Raina anchored the chase with an unbeaten knock. Ravindra Jadeja (31 n o, 17b) also played an important cameo to pave the way for the team’s seventh win in eight games.
This was the defending champions fourth win on the trot as they consolidated their position atop the table with 14 points and one more win will virtually seal their spot in play-offs whose cut-off over the years has been 16 points.
This was also their first win at the Eden Gardens since 2013 as they did a double on KKR who suffered a hat-trick of defeats for the first time since 2014 and set to slip out of their second place in the table. Incidentally, 161 is their lowest score at the Eden this season.
Sunil Narine (2/19) was the pick of KKR bowling that included a wicket-maiden when he cleaned up Faf du Plessis (24) to end the powerplay.
But Raina held on at the other end with significant partnerships including a 40-run stand with skipper MS Dhoni. It all seemed a walk in the park for CSK when Narine gave the biggest breakthrough dismissing Dhoni for 16 with team’s score of 121/5, needing 41 runs from 26 balls.
But Raina held his nerves while Jadeja gave the finishing touches. On an Eden Gardens track where spinners had struggled so far, Tahir spun the match in favour of Chennai with his twin double blows in the 11th and 15th overs en route his career-best IPL figures.
Earlier, Tahir removed an ominous-looking Chris Lynn (82, 51b, 7×4, 6×6) and in a space of four balls removed the dangerous Andre Russell (10) for the first time under a score of 40 this season to put brakes on their scoring.
Tahir’s bowling had such devastating effect that KKR managed just 28 runs from last five overs and went on to lose three more wickets to end up with a below-par total.
But it was a different script for KKR early on with a fit-again Lynn giving them a flying start en route to his second fifty this season that came off just 36 balls.
Having missed his team’s last match because of flu, Lynn went ballistic against CSK bowlers. Such was Lynn’s dominance that the otherwise explosive Sunil Narine looked like a spectator at the other end with the Aussie having a share of 31 off 33 runs in the first four overs.
A 200-plus total looked imminent with Lynn looking dangerous and Russell starting to explode. However Tahir, aided by some brilliant catching from Du Plessis and the substitute Dhruv Shorey, made inroads removing Nitish Rana (21) and Robin Uthappa (0) in space of two balls, before the leggie dismissed Russell as well, to dash the hopes of reaching a big total.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 161/8 (Chris Lynn 82; Imran Tahir 4/27, Shardul Thakur 2/18) lost to Chennai Super Kings 162/5 (Suresh Raina 58 n o, Ravindra Jadeja 31 n o; Sunil Narine 2/19) by 5 wickets.