Ravindra Jadeja won a close match for Chennai Super Kings for the umpteenth time as his back-end pyrotechnics ensured a two-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League thriller here on Sunday. Jadeja (22 off 8 balls) launched into pacer Prasidh Krishna, who bowled the 19th over, where the pacer lost his length completely under the Saurashtra all-rounder's onslaught with CSK reaching the target of 172 in exactly 20 overs.
Instead of bowling yorkers, Krishna repeatedly bowled length balls as Jadeja hit two sixes and two boundaries to make it a cakewalk in the final over. Krishna conceded 22 runs in the penultimate over to leave CSK with four runs to get in the final over. But there was more drama in store as Sam Curran and Jadeja were snuffed out by Sunil Narine before Deepak Chahar ended the match with a single.
However, KKR skipper Eoin Morgan's captaincy left a lot to be desired as the decision to bring in Krishna in the 19th over would be debated. Morgan in his defence could sight Anre Russell's injury being the reason but Narine in the 19th over could have posed more challenge for a rampaging Jadeja.
In pursuit of a challenging 172, CSK were down and out at 142/6 before Jadeja took the onus on himself. KKR had posted 171/6, as they rode on late flourish by former skipper Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana after the foundation was laid by Rahul Tripathi (45).
CSK wasn't able to capitalise on the aggressive 74-run opening start given by Ruturaj Gaikwad (40 off 28 balls; 2 fours and 3 sixes) and South African Faf Du Plessis (43; seven fours). KKR pegged CSK by sending both the openers back in quick succession. CSK then suffered a middle-order collapse. Spinner Varun Chakravarthy had got KKR back into the game by dismissing Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Earlier, former skipper Dinesh Karthik's late cameo and Nitish Rana's steady long handle took Kolkata Knight Riders to a par-score of 171 against Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League encounter on Sunday. Seamer Shardul Thakur (2/20 in 4 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/21 in 4 overs) performed impressively to keep KKR under leash till the 13th over when they were 93 for 4.
However, the last seven overs yielded 78 runs and KKR were able to put on a more than fighting score largely due to Sam Curran (0/56 in 4overs) leaking runs at the back end. Even Josh Hazlewood (2/40 in 4 overs) got a bit of stick helping KKR's cause. The platform was laid by Rahul Tripathi (45 off 33), who hit four boundaries and one six but it was the CSK bowlers, who kept making inroads and did not allow the KKR batsmen to either free their arms or settle down.
Opting to bat, Kolkata lost opener Shubman Gill (9) in the first over after a horrible mix-up with Venkatesh Iyer. One-down Tripathi and in-form Venkatesh Iyer (18) tried to resurrect the innings but the southpaw was unable to convert his start after he nicked one to Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Thakur. Tripathi, who fetched his first boundary, an imperious pull shot over mid-wicket, also got a 'life' after the ball on which he had nicked, was adjudged as a 'no-ball'. Off the very next one, he smashed his first maximum over deep extra cover.
Skipper Eoin Morgan (8) also fell cheaply as he holed to Du Plessis off Josh Hazlewood as KKR was in spot of bother at 70/3. Tripathi also fell in the 13th over, as he was cleaned up by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as KKR slipped to 89/4. Then Andre Russell (20) took on Sam Curran in the 15th over, smacking two fours and a monstrous six, as KKR fetched 14 runs. But Shardul Thakur forced Russell to drag one back onto his stumps. Then it was the Rana and Karthik show that took them past 170.
The win also meant that CSK remained unbeaten after the IPL resumed and once again they are now back at the top in the pecking order, with 16 points.