IPL - Shreyas & Jackson
Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Shreyas Iyer (left) and Sheldon Jackson after completing their win. Image Credit: Twitter

It’s over. Kolkata finally made amends for the loss in last year’s final by scoring a clinical six-wicket victory over the depleted defending champions Chennai Super Kings, who haven’t got their bearings right in the opener contest of the Indian Premier League Season 15 on Saturday. Skipper Shreyas Iyer ensured his team reach the target with nine balls to spare. Iyer has come out of his test as a skipper in flying colours as he outwitted the Yellove in their own game.

Kolkata’s batting heroes were Ajinkya Rahane and Sam Billings, who both didn’t got the chance to play too many games last season. The two batters certainly made a statement and repaid the faith the Knight Riders management reposed on them.

When Bravo got Billings, he equaled Lasith Malinga as the highest wicket-taker in IPL. But that was only a consolation for his stupendous effort as the West Indian all-rounder took three of the four wickets that fell on the day for Knight Riders.

The presence of Bharath Arun in the ranks must have helped Kolkata as they bowled a very tight line to restrict Super Kings, who missed the all-round abilities of Moeen Ali and Deepak Chahar. But for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s brilliant half-century, Chennai would not have reached the score on a Wankhede Stadium wicket, which offered plenty of assistance to bowlers while giving the freedom for the batters to play their shots.

Bravo equalled Lasith Malinga when he dismissed Sam Billings late in the innings, which is unlikely to have any outcome on the result of the contest. The West Indian now has 170 wickets in IPL. Kolkata need 6 wickets in 12 balls.

Rahane’s wicket has slowed Kolkta’s progress, but nevertheless with skipper Shreyas Iyer and Sam Billings are in no hurry as they are ensuring there are no more hiccups en route to their win. After 16 overs Knight Riders are 113 for 3, needing 19 from 24 balls.

Dangerous Dwayne Bravo once again proved that he is capable of pulling out his tricks out of his bag when he dismissed Nitish Rana to halt Knight Riders from running away towards the target. Rahane is still holding one end up with a knock of 35 as Kolkata finish the half-way stage at 76 for 2, needing another 56 from 60 balls. Here Rahane plays a crucial role to ensure the team reaches the target.

Rana tries to break the shackles

The wily Dwayne Bravo has given Chennai a breakthrough while Dhoni is throwing everything in the mix with a change of pace. The problem is they have too little runs to play with as Nitish Rana, who comes in at No.3 ahead of his captain, creams left-arm spinner Santner a number of times. 

Rahane looks good

Kolkata are off to sedate start against a new-look attack of Adam Milne and Tushar Deshpande, both of of derive some early swing. Ajinkya Rahane, out of India's Test squad, comes up with a gem of a pick-up shot off Milne for their first six along with a couple of crisp boundaries on the offside. At 43 without loss after powerplay, the openers have weathered the early storm.  

Dhoni's class still shines brightly on the pitch

Dubai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni lived up to his reputation as the dreaded finisher in world cricket by scoring a half-century to guide Chennai Super Kings to a respectable total against a disciplined Kolkata Knight Riders bowling in the opening clash of the Indian Premier League season 15 at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.

The defending champions did not get off to one of their best starts as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. At one stage, Super Kings were looking at a target of under 100 but Dhoni’s assault of 50 off 38 balls, clubbed with skipper Ravindra Jadeja’s sedate 26 off 28 balls that included a last ball six off Andre Russell, took Chennai to 135 for five in 20 overs.

The miserly spells by Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine, who got plenty of bounce and spin from the Wankhede Stadium pitch, kept the defending champions on a tight leash and found it difficult to find their groove.

Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu showed signs of taking the fight to the opposition but their wickets in quick succession pushed the champions on the backfoot.

A Dhoni special

At last, MSD has managed to get his timing right. A huge six off an attempted yorker by Mavi and CSK manage to get 15 off the penultimate over. It also brings up Dhoni-Jadeja's 50-partnership. 

Dhoni survives

Dhoni survives a stumping chance as he leaned forward to Sunil Narine but missed the line to one that spun away from him.An unfamiliar situation for CSK with them yet to get over 80-mark with just five overs. Can the new captain and his mentor make it count?

Chennai looks completely out of sorts. The pressure of captaincy has made Jadeja nervous, resulting in Dube surviving two close run outs. Eventually, Dube fell while going for an ambitious shot over midwicket off Russell, where he skied the quick bouncer to short midwicket. In comes Dhoni. A lot will depend on this pair to give some challenging target for Kolkata to chase. But for now, KKR are on a high. After 11 overs, CSK are 61 for five

So far Chennai are off to a typical bad start. The Yellove are 52 for 4 after 8.4 overs when a mix up between Jadeja and Rayudu ended the latter’s brief knock. The strategic break could bring in a new strategy from Chennai as Kolkata are very much in their rhythm. When the Chennai fans were expecting Dhoni, in walks Shivam Dube. Now two left-handers are out to halt the two mystery spinners.

There is turn, there is bounce. A typical and true Wankhede wicket where both the ball and the bat gets equal assistance. The Kolkata mystery spinners, Chakravarthy and Narine, are operating in tandem to choke the runs and sneak a wicket. The move paid dividends as a great stumping ends Uthappa’s knock after Kolkata came close to getting a wicket when the ball brushed the stumps of Rayudu, but the bails stood firm.. After eight overs, CSK are 49 for 3 after eight overs. In comes skipper Ravindra Jadeja..

Robin Uthappa is on fire. He has now stepped in to take control of the powerplay overs. The veteran batter’s six off Umesh Yadav, an outswinger on the leg-stump, was flicked over midwicket fence, showed that he is in good nick. He followed it up with a scoop for a second six over fine leg off Mavi. But when things are under control Conway, who took his time to get into his groove, lofted straight to Shreyas Iyer. After 4.1 overs, CSK are 28 for two. In comes Ambati Rayudu…

Ruturaj Gaekwad seems to be missing his partner Faf du Plessis, who must have been the calming influence on the youngster. The CSK played an uncharacteristic shot, chasing the ball wide of off stump to be caught in the slips off Umesh Yadav to leave the Yellove at 2 for 1 in the first over. The ball is moving a lot, so the pacers will be having an extra spring in their steps. Chennai are 3 for one after one over.

Shreyas Iyer is making a statement here by picking just three international pros – Sam Billings, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell – sure that must be a good bench strength. CSK have retained six of the 11 players who played in the final in Dubai last year.

The wait is finally over for a bigger and better version of the 15th edition of Indian Premier League. The eyes will get a little time, we suppose, to get used to someone else rather than Mahendra Singh Dhoni coming out to toss for Chennai - but that's how life is. The new KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer has opted chase - certainly with the dew factor in mind. Stay tuned...

Dubai: The Indian Premier League Season 15 has undergone a sea change to the old order - with the hope of many new taking roots. Chennai Super Kings, who have maintained the same look and feel in terms of the key personnel and the staff, will be beginning their title-defence under Ravindra Jadeja, who had been handed over the reigns by his mentor and the former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Though the move has shocked the 'Yellove' fans, it is the best way forward as Dhoni, hailed as Thala (leader), is heading towards the sunset of his career and will be grooming Jadeja this season to take the four-time champions forward. The champions will be missing Moeen Ali in the opener against Kolkata Knight Riders, whom they beat in the final in Dubai last year, as he is still in quarantine. Also missing will be injured Deepak Chahar. 


Knight Riders will also be a different team altogether under the in-form Shreyas Iyer, who will be eager to prove his captaincy credentials. He will be assisted by Aaron Finch, Andre Russell while Varun Chakravarthy and Venkatesh Iyer will be eager to continue from where they left off in the previous edition in the UAE.

Over to Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, where Super Kings start as favourites despite all the shortcomings as they still have the dependable Dhoni to fall back on...