The short history of T20 cricket is replete with heroic acts of game-changers, who have assumed control to rewrite the entire script, all over again, when the chips are down. It is these guys, who bring elements of additional thrill and carry their teams’ fortune on their shoulders. In Kolkata Knight Riders’ first game against the Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday night, there were two of them for KKR. They were Andre Russel and Ryan ten Doeschate, Tendo to his fans. In the last 10 overs of the match, the duo enacted a high drama at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad and pulled KKR from doldrums, just as KKR were staring at an abysmal defeat. In a stunning batting performance, Russel and Tendo carved out an unbelievable victory path for KKR, when everything appeared bleak for the Gautam Gambir led side. KKR went for the 158-run chase disastrously and with 21 runs on the board, lost four wickets, three of which were gobbled by Ashish Nehra. It is not that Nehra was unplayable but KKR batsmen brought about their own downfall by some careless display.
Earlier Gambhir won the toss and decided to bowl first. Equal to the task, CSK went about scoring 10 per over until Dwayne Smith fell to Piyush Chawla’ guile after hitting two fours in the leggie’s over, the innings fourth. Smith shaped for a late cut but ended up getting an outside edge for an easy catch to Bisla. The other opener, Brendon McCullum was at the receiving end of a questionable umpiring decision. Yusuf Pathan bowled a straighter delivery to McCullum and the batsmen missed an attempted reverse sweep but the ball hit only the batsman’s hand. Unfortunately for McCullum, the umpire thought the ball had hit the pads and raised his finger as Pathan appealed. By this time, Sunil Narine and Chawla had already applied breaks to the rate of scoring and by the time Narine trapped Raina LBW in the 12th over, CSK were only scoring at 7 runs per over. Though CSK lost only one more wicket after that, their scoring rate could not be jacked up. Skipper Dhoni had Dwayne Bravo for company but the two batsmen could not score briskly against some fine bowling by KKR bowlers. Sunil Narine yielded only 9 runs in his four overs and Chawla conceded 26. Of Dhoni’ 35 off 20 balls, 21 came in the last two overs. Bravo also scored only 28 off 28. CSK finished their 20 overs for 157/4, leaving KKR with an achievable 158.
But KKR openers didn’t do any credit to themselves, when they lost 2 wickets on 9 runs in innings’ third over from Ashish Nehra. Both Gambhir and Manish Pandey played indiscreet shots and gifted their wickets. In the fourth over, when caution was required, Yusuf Pathan needlessly poked at an away-going outswinger from Mohit Sharma and Faf du Plessis caught him in the first slip to make it 10/3 for KKR. It was at this point that Doeschate came in.
Tendo began with two fours off Mohit Shrama and single to make it 9 off 5 balls for himself. But in the next over, he saw Bisla giving another wicket to Nehra, when the batsman scooped an offside delivery straight into the hands of R Ashwin at mid-on. With four wickets lost and 135 required in the next 15, things began to look difficult for KKR. In the 9th over, KKR lost another wicket, when Suryakumar Yadav fell to a wild shot played on Ravindra Jadeja’s ball and the top edge was grabbed by Ashwin again, this time at short third man. Having reduced KKR to 51/5 in 9 overs, CSK were confident of finishing with a win in Hyderabad. With Surya Yadav’s dismissal Andre Russel had joined Doeschate and though they looked in good touch, they still needed to score 98 from 10 overs. They collected 17 off the 11th to ease things for themselves. But CSK conceded only 11 in the next two overs. When KKR still required 50 from 30 balls at the end of the 15th over, Russel whacked Mohit Sharma for 18 runs in the 16th. Russel hit another boundary in the next over from Nehra, before being yorked by the bowler off the next ball. But Russel had finished his work. His 58 off 24 balls contained 5 sixes and 4 fours. Nehra conceded another 9 runs in that over and KKR had the match in their sight with 18 required off 18 balls. They got to the target without too much trouble and finished a thrilling victory in the end. Russell was declared the man-of-the-match for his brave knock after KKR had lost 5 wickets and they needed 107 to get from 66 balls. But he and Tendo enacted the roles of game changers to shock CSK and bring glory to KKR.