Sam Billings became the unlikely hero against Kolkata Knight Riders and his terrific half-century coupled with Shane Watson’s cameo at the start helped Chennai Super Kings to a thrilling five-wicket victory in Chennai today. Earlier, Andre Russell’s 88 propelled the Kolkata-based team to 202.
It was going to be a hugely emotional moment for the Chennai Super Kings franchise on their return to the home city for a match after two years, and almost everyone present in the stadium would have wanted their team to bat first. However, MS Dhoni, keeping up the dew factor in mind, decided to chase. While Kedar Jadhav's grade-2 hamstring tear forced the Super Kings to make two changes as Sam Billings and Shardul Thakur were brought in for Mark Wood and Jadhav. Chennai boy & KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik, who drafted in Tom Curran for Mitchell Johnson, also stated that he would have chased as well.
Russell all the way as KKR cross past 200
With the ball coming easily onto the bat, the stage was all set for the big-hitting opening pair of Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn to give the visiting team a splendid start and the beginning was exactly that. However, after milking 18 runs off the first over off Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh tried to dent KKR’s progress by dismissing Narine, but Robin Uthappa found runs easy to come by in the power play. While the Karthik-led team managed to keep up the strike rate, Chennai picked up wickets at a heap in the middle overs and by the end of the 12th over, the visitors found themselves at 104/5. But, after that, Andre Russell decided to bring all his power to the fore and, in a maniac 30 minutes, thrashed CSK bowlers left, right, and
Billings smashes KKR to guide CSK home
Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu started off brilliantly as they took down the bowlers at ease and guided the team to 75/1 inside the powerplay overs. The duo basically took on Piyush Chawla for runs as they raised hopes among the Chepauk fans, but their cheers turned to despair when Tom Curran found Rinku Singh at the deep mid-wicket to dismiss the Australian opener for 42; soon after, Kuldeep Yadav sent Rayudu packing. The game was all dependent on the revered duo of Suresh Raina and Dhoni, but the duo couldn’t time the ball properly and Raina’s struggling stay at the crease ended for 14, which made way for Billings to come to the middle in the 12th over and the Englishman immediately stepped up to the plate and hit KKR bowlers all around the park to take the hosts much close and the match eventually came down to 18 runs off the last over. The lack of options for KKR forced Karthik to throw the ball to Vinay Kumar, who conceded 18 runs in his first five legal balls (bowled a no-ball and wide), much to the joy of the fans present at the stadium.