Captain Gautam Gambhir struck a solid 63 to take Kolkata Knight Riders to a comfortable five-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings, the two-time defending champions, in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last night.
Gambhir hit one six and six fours in his 52-ball knock as Kolkata scored 140 for five in 19.4 overs after restricting Chennai to 139 for five at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Apart from Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, the South African all-rounder, also contributed to the win. After bagging the key wickets of Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo, he produced a useful knock of 26 and figured in a 70-run second-wicket stand with Gambhir.
Gambhir, who struck 93 in Kolkata's last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, was out in the penultimate over when he was trapped lbw by Bravo, the West Indian all-rounder, with a slower delivery.
But local favourite Debabrata Das produced a four-ball cameo of 11 and scored the winning four off Ravichandran Ashwin to complete the win with just two deliveries remaining.
"We did a good job restricting them to 139," said Gambhir who won the man-of-the-match award.
"We know we have a lot of potential and quality, we only need to complement each other.
"Das should have been man of the match," he added before handing the award to Das.
A coy Das thanked the seniors in the team for giving him "a lot of confidence" before adding, "Gambhir is my mentor."
Earlier, Gambhir rotated the bowlers well to restrict Chennai on a slow pitch.
The South African Faf du Plessis (3) was dismissed early by Brett Lee while his Australian opening partner Michael Hussey (18) was run out as Chennai struggled to 32 for two in five overs.
But the left-handed Raina ended a lean patch by scoring 44 off 34 balls with one six and four fours and captain MS Dhoni made an unbeaten 34 off 30 balls with only two fours.
Raina also became the first batsmen in the IPL's five-year history to cross the 2,000-run mark when on 35. Raina has been a Chennai player in all five seasons so far.
A disappointed Dhoni acknowledged the bowling attack has not been up to the mark throughout the competition this season.
"The spinners need to come into their own. Most teams are doing well because of their spinners," Dhoni said. "It is not as if the pitch is bad but it is not suiting our strategy."
Dhoni also refused to blame the batsmen for their performance last night. "[Michael] Hussey did well and got run-out, so that [his selection] wasn't a bad decision," he said.
Hussey was playing in his first IPL game of the season after returning from Australia's successful tour of the West Indies.
Last night's win ensured Kolkata stay in second place with six wins, three losses and a no-result from 10 games. Chennai have four wins, five losses and a no-result.
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