The half-way mark of CSK's innings
While thinking out of the box, only one criterion marks the difference between a genius and a fool: the result.
Chasing a modest 168, CSK were cruising at 90/1 in the first 10 overs. Neither of KKR's most experienced bowler - Sunil Narine - or, their best bowler from the previous match - Andre Russell - had bowled yet.
Moreover, their spearhead, Pat Cummins had finished three overs from his quota without causing any damage. With 78 needed in the last 10 with a long batting line-up and two set batsmen at the crease, the target seemed a cakewalk. Shane Watson had already crossed a half-century. With Narine's past record against him, eight dismissals and 88 runs, it looked like KKR had lost a trick.
What transpired until then?
KKR had set their mind on not repeating the regular with the ball from the get-go. Unlike some of the other teams who like to rotate their bowlers upfront, KKR started with a three-over spell each for Cummins and Shivam Mavi
Oozing with confidence from the last match, the CSK openers started with a flourish.
Both the openers - Watson and Faf du Plessis - collected five boundaries in the first four overs. After having batted together for 21 overs, Mavi broke the Watson-du Plessis pair, dismissing the South African.
Watson though continued to make merry against Mavi. He guided a shortish ball on his pads to the fine leg fence. To a shorter ball next up, Watson pulled him over the square leg fence to end Powerplay on a high. In the first four overs after the Powerplay, they added 36 runs without losing a wicket.
In each of these four overs, bowled by KKR rookies - Varun Chakravarthy and Kamlesh Nagarkoti - CSK batsmen collected at least one boundary.
Even luck seemed to detach itself from KKR as in this period, there were three close calls. Twice of Watson as the ball fell a dive short of the deep fielders on the leg-side. Once of Rayudu as a leading-edge fell wide of the fielder at point.
The drought begins
As a surprising move, KKR opted to finish Cummins off in the 11th over. It was then the chase started to get tricky for CSK. In the next five overs, CSK scored only 20 and lost two wickets.
Cummins' over helped in breaking CSK's boundary-hitting rhythm. Then, Narine, bowling his first over of the match, started with a miserly 5-run over.
It was probably due to the lack of boundaries in the last two overs or rush of blood against a young Nagarkoti but Rayudu lost the plot. Attempting to clear the fence, Rayudu mistimed a pull straight to the fielder at long-on.
Narine capped off an assertive passage of play to trap Watson in the first ball of his next over, thus giving KKR a lot of hope to get back into the match.
Needing 58 in the last five overs, Sam Curran provided a glimmer of hope for CSK. Taking toll of Narine, he hit him for a four and six to bring the asking rate to 11 an over.
However, in an attempt to target Varun in the next over, MS Dhoni lost his shape and also his wicket. Kedar Jadhav played out three dot balls to end the 17th over with just five runs.
Saving him for the death, KKR chose Andre Russell to bowl the 18th over. With no other option for the CSK batsman other than to attack, he started off with the short ball. Looking to clear the ring fielders on the off-side, Curran found himself cramped and could not cross extra-cover.
With the asking rate in double digits, Jadhav was on nought off five balls to leave his side needing 36 runs in the last two overs.
A four each by Ravindra Jadeja and Jadhav off Narine in the next over left CSK needing 26 runs in the final over. Facing Russell, Jadeja finished off with two fours and a six. But, it was too late as Jadhav scored one off the first three balls to render the target unsurmountable.
If the plan had failed, there would have been questions galore for KKR's decision of not unleashing Narine earlier. However, tonight they will be deemed a genius.
Rahul Tripathi at his rightful place
Tripathi had a dream season with Rising Pune Supergiant in 2016. However, with Ajinkya Rahane in the side, he did not get enough chances to prove his mettle at RR.
Tonight, KKR opted to promote the seasoned Tripathi at his rightful place with Shubman Gill. As usual, Deepak Chahar got swing straight away but could not find the lines as per his liking. Tripathi collected his first boundary as a KKR opener via a flick past fine leg that was squarer.
He continued to make merry at the top of the order as he hit Curran for two boundaries in the next over. One glanced fine and the other down the ground. Then, he picked Chahar's knuckle-ball and slammed it wide of long-off for a maximum.
While there have been some one-off impressive efforts at the boundary, it will be hard to recall this season for fielding. There have been far too many misfields and regulation chances put down. All this pales in comparison to the lack of direct hits.
Advancing the trend, Jadeja failed to run Tripathi out twice. On the first occasion, Tripathi dived as Jadeja aimed from backward point. On the second, Tripathi was nonchalant while being a long way away as if sure that Jadeja was not going to hit.
Meanwhile, Tripathi welcomed the new entree in the CSK setup, Karn Sharma, slog sweeping him above the fingers of a jumping long-on fielder. Nitish Rana tried to emulate Tripathi but could not clear Ravindra Jadeja at cow corner. KKR pulled a surprise and promoted (or demoted?) Narine to number four.
Attacked from both ends, Dwayne Bravo bowled an expensive over, the 10th of the innings that went for 19 runs. Tripathi cut him for a boundary to reach his half-century, while Narine hit him for a six and a four on the off-side.
The second-half horrors dented KKR as well
CSK came back in the last 10 overs with the ball giving away 74 runs and taking eight wickets. While direct hits continued to evade him, Jadeja's superlative effort at cow corner ended Narine's innings. Although, having added 17 off nine, Narine was not a failed experiment overall.
To dent KKR further, Curran bowled an impressive over. He rewarded CSK with a wicket of his England limited-overs' skipper after bouncing Morgan out who edged a hook to Dhoni.
Chahar ended a disappointing day on a solemn note. Bowling the 15th over, he missed his mark again and bowled on Tripathi's pads who guided him for a four and a six to the deep fine fence.
There could not have been a worst start to the death-over phase for KKR as Russell failed with the bat yet again. Throwing his bat at a back-of-a-length ball from Shardul Thakur, he could only manage an edge through to Dhoni.
Tripathi continued to dominate with a spanking square cut against Bravo in the next over. However, he lost his wicket at a crucial juncture. Trying to squirt a full ball to the third man fence, he could not cross Watson at short third and departed for a 51-ball 81.
Bravo capped off the innings for CSK with the ball with a thrifty 5-run over. As a cherry on top, the three remaining KKR wickets fell in that over as well. Two of them thanks to Dhoni's agility behind the stumps.
Keeping with his gloves off, he managed to stick out his right hand to palm an edge off Mavi. As the ball bounced in the air, an aware Dhoni dived to his right to complete the catch.
CSK could not capitalize on their efforts with the ball as KKR outfoxed their middle-order. Having got to winning ways in the last match, CSK will be back to the drawing board.