Captain Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh slammed critical fifties and dominated spinners with immaculate ease to help Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) stay alive in the race for Playoffs in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 with a clinical six-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.
Pushed into bowling first, Sunil Narine and local boy Varun Chakaravarthy bowled well to take two wickets each and keep Chennai to 144/6, their lowest total of IPL 2023. Chennai had a chance to seal their place in the Playoffs at home by taking three wickets in power-play.
But Rana and Rinku had other ideas by stitching a 99-run partnership off 76 balls for the fourth wicket to take Kolkata home in a chase of 145 with nine balls to spare. While Rana was unbeaten on 57 off 44 balls, Rinku was impressive in scoring 54 off 43 balls as the duo also achieved the distinction of stitching the highest-ever stand for the fourth wicket partnership against Chennai at Chepauk.
Chennai struck in the opening over of Kolkata's chase when Deepak Chahar had Rahmanullah Gurbaz slicing a drive on a full and wide ball to deep backward point running to his right.The pacer again struck in the third over when Venkatesh Iyer nicked straight to the short third man, after being hit for two fours and in the fifth over, added Jason Roy's scalp by getting an outside edge on an attempt to drive off a knuckleball to short third man.
Rinku got off the mark by driving Chahar through extra cover for four and ended the Power-play by launching Tushar Deshpande over long-off for six. He proceeded to drive Moeen Ali through extra cover and got an edge past slip to collect back-to-back fours in the ninth over.
Rana further relieved the pressure by reverse-sweeping Moeen for four at the start of the 11th over and immediately got a reprieve on 18 when Matheesha Pathirana dropped a tough chance after sprinting in from deep backward square leg.
When Ravindra Jadeja was introduced in the 12th over, Rinku was quick to smash a six over the bowler's head. Rana continued to toy with the field by creating room to go inside-out over extra cover twice for fours off Moeen.
Rinku went big again when he got low and slog-swept Jadeja for six in the 14th over, followed by Rana cutting and driving down the ground off Theekshana for back-to-back fours.Rinku got his fifty in 39 balls when he clipped along the ground off Pathirana on the last ball of the 16th over, followed by Rana getting his half-century off 38 balls in the next over.
Though Rinku was run-out by a direct hit from Moeen in the 18th over, Rana finished off the chase in style with a four driven off Deshpande through third man to keep their playoffs hopes alive.
Earlier, Narine and Chakaravarthy got plenty of help from a challenging pitch to restrict Chennai to six runs below 150. After Ruturaj Gaikwad swept Varun Chakaravarthy for four, the leg-spinner bounced back when he found a turn on leg-break which the right-handed batter tried to slog and top-edge flew to short third man.
After Devon Conway brought out a cover drive off Chakaravarthy for four, Ajinkya Rahane used Rana's pace to late dab past the third man for four and followed it up with an effortless loft over mid-on for six as Chennai signed off from power-play with 52/1.
Conway got to change an lbw decision off Chakaravarthy when on 25 in the eighth over as replays showed the ball bouncing above stumps, but Rahane wasn't lucky as he holed out to long-on in the same over.
Chennai plunged into trouble when Conway got a top edge on the pull off Shardul Thakur and was caught by deep square leg in the tenth over. In the next over, an off-break from Sunil Narine went past Ambati Rayudu's sweep and crashed into the stumps, while his carrom ball beat Moeen Ali's inside edge to leave the stumps in a mess.
Dube ended a 41-ball no-boundary spree by launching an overpitched delivery from Suyash Sharma over extra cover for six and began to attack by pulling Thakur for four. He and Ravindra Jadeja smashed a six each on short balls from Suyash on either side of a no-ball, to amass 16 runs from the 17th over, before Dube smacked Chakaravarthy for six over mid-wicket.
But Thakur pulled things back admirably by conceding only five runs, including a wide, in the 19th over. After Jadeja ramped a bouncer straight to short third man off Vaibhav Arora in the final over, Kolkata conceded only four runs on the last two balls, including a wide and no-ball, as Chennai picked only 14 runs off the last two overs.
Chennai Super Kings 144/6 in 20 overs (Shivam Dube 48 not out, Devon Conway 30; Sunil Narine 2-15, Varun Chakaravarthy 2-36) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 147/4 in 18.3 overs (Nitish Rana 57 not out; Rinku Singh 54; Deepak Chahar 3-27) by six wickets