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KKR vs CSK: Umesh Yadav, Batters set up a clinical first win

Wickets in the powerplay? Check. Spinners bowling with control? Check. Tight fielding? Check. Batters getting runs? Check. A win to start the season well? Check! 

Kolkata Knight Riders sealed a comfortable six-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings in the season’s curtain-raiser at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. 

Having won the toss and chosen to field, the Knight Riders got off to a perfect start. Umesh Yadav, who was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2-20, found movement and zip off the wicket with the new ball early on to send back Chennai Super Kings’ openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway inside the powerplay. Gaikwad (0), slashed a wide delivery to edge it to Nitish Rana at first slip before Conway (3) chipped a dolly off Yadav’s second over to Shreyas Iyer at mid-on.

Robin Uthappa’s brief revival, a 21-ball 28, was short-lived after he ran past a leg-side googly off Varun Chakravarthy for Sheldon Jackson to complete a lightning quick stumping at the end of the eighth over. Just four balls later, Iyer, stationed at short midwicket, completed a runout off Sunil Narine to send back Ambati Rayudu for 15 to leave the Super Kings reeling at 57 for four at the halfway stage. 

The bowlers kept things tight in the middle as The Men in Yellow played out 56 dot balls in total with a lean, boundaryless phase in the middle overs that saw them not hit a single boundary for 49 balls.

Newly-minted CSK captain Ravindra Jadeja joined hands with former skipper MS Dhoni to rebuild their innings in the eleventh over for a 70-run partnership. Spinners Chakravarthy (1-23) and Narine (0-15) kept the batters guessing but CSK dashed off to 131 for five accelerating at the death to score 48 runs off the final 20 balls. Dhoni brought up his 27th half-century in the process, a knock comprising seven boundaries and a six.

In reply, Knight Riders’ openers Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer raced off the blocks to post 43 in the powerplay. Rahane took a particular liking to Adam Milne, driving on the up over his head for a boundary before pulling a short ball for a six in the fourth over. 

Dwayne Bravo drew first blood for the Super Kings when Venkatesh Iyer edged a wide delivery to Dhoni behind the stumps to fall for a run-a-ball 16. Nitish Rana flexed his muscles for two boundaries off Shivam Dube and a six of Mitchell Santner before falling to Bravo at halfway stage with 76 on the board.

Rahane soon followed having been dismissed off Santner for a well-made 44 with the required run-rate well below 5.50. Shreyas Iyer and Sam Billings, having earned their first KKR caps earlier in the evening, put on a 36-run stand to kill the chase. Iyer, fittingly, closed out the game with a boundary with nine balls to spare to round off a winning captaincy debut.