Last season’s runner-up Kolkata Knight Riders thrashed defending Champions Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in the opening match of the IPL 2022 here at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Saturday. Umesh Yadav was the hero of the match for KKR as he picked two wickets while with the bat Ajinkya Rahane played a crucial knock of 44 runs for his new side.
Chasing a below-par total at the high scoring pitch of Wankhede Stadium, KKR got off to a great start with their new pair of Venkatesh Iyer and Rahane scoring 44 runs for the first wicket. Iyer, who was the find of the season for KKR last year scored 16 runs in 16 balls with the help of two boundaries before getting dismissed against DJ Bravo. He edged one outside off to MS Dhoni, who hardly miss any catches.
On the other hand, Rahane who was playing his first match for KKR was going strong. He along with Nitish Rana took KKR’s score past 70 runs to make sure that they help their side get close to the target. Rana was sent back by Bravo and in the very next over Mitchell Santner removed Rahane on 44. It looked like CSK was making their way back in the game but KKR’s new skipper Shreyas Iyer and Sam Billings kept the chase on track. Bravo took another wicket in the name of Sam but Iyer made sure that KKR get the two points on the table and start the season on high.
Earlier, a brilliant bowling performance by Umesh Yadav (2/20) and Varun Chakaravarthy (1/23) helped KKR restrict CSK to 131-5 despite a fighting fifty by former captain MS Dhoni (50 off 38). Ravindra Jadeja, who was leading the CSK for the very first time looked under pressure while batting but former skipper Dhoni hit a few vintage shots, scored a timely half-century and helped CSK post a respectable total on the board.
Put into bat first, CSK were off to a bad start as KKR pacer Umesh removed Ruturaj Gaikwad for a duck in the very first over of the innings.
Robin Uthappa then joined another CSK opener Devon Conway at the crease. Uthappa looked in fine touch right from the beginning and hit a few lovely shots to get CSK going. However, debutant Conway was struggling to find runs at the other hand and Umesh dismissed him for three to pluck his second wicket.
Experienced Rayudu then joined Uthappa in the middle and they looked to rebuild the CSK innings. KKR captain introduced Varun Chakaravarthy in the last over of the powerplay and Rayudu got a lucky boundary, taking CSK to 35/2 at the end of the 6th over.
Just when it looked like the stand between Uthappa and Rayudu was building, CSK lost another wicket. On a wide delivery bowled by Varun, Uthappa (28) went after blindly only to misread it and the wicket-keeper Sheldon Jackson stumped him in a flash.
Already in trouble, CSK then lost the wicket of Rayudu (15) after a mix-up between him and skipper Jadeja. All-rounder Shivam Dube, who came to bat next, couldn’t do much and was dismissed by Andre Russell for three, leaving CSK tottering at 61-5 after 10.5 overs.
After losing back to back wickets, former skipper MS Dhoni and new captain Jadeja had the big responsibility on their shoulders to bail CSK out of trouble. However, both Dhoni and Jadeja couldn’t free their arms under the tremendous pressure as CSK played many consecutive quiet overs.
With only 84 runs on the board after the completion of 17 overs, CSK desperately needed some big hits to post a respective total at Wankhede. And Dhoni hit three boundaries in Russell’s over to give CSK’s innings some momentum.
However, Jadeja, on the other hand, wasn’t able to find any timely boundaries. But, Dhoni showed his class and hit some glorious shots in the last two overs to complete his fifty off 38 overs. In the end, Both Jadeja (26 off 28) and Dhoni remained not out and added 70 runs for the sixth wicket and took Chennai to 131/5 in 20 overs.