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Hodge, McCullum help Kolkata beat Chennai

By Rediff cricket
Last updated on: May 19, 2009 00:18 IST
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A brilliant 81 by captain Brendon McCullum and an equally well-compiled 71 not out by Brad Hodge enabled Kolkata Knight Riders beat Chennai Super Kings by seven wickets in their Indian Premier League match at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on Monday.

Chasing an improbable 189 to win, KKR romped home off the last ball, when Wridhimann Saha chipped it over cover for a single.

It was only the Kolkata team's second win in this year's competition against 10 defeats.

The Kolkata captain's superlative innings came off just 48 balls (11x4, 3x6) while Hodge's knock came off 44 balls (4x4, 4x6). The latter was named man-of-the-match.

Earlier, an aggressive 52 by Suresh Raina, and his 75-run third wicket partnership with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (40 not out), helped Chennai post a formidable 188 for three.

Raina faced only 37 balls during his knock and had three hits to the fence and three big ones over it.

Going into the match Chennai had witnessed their run of five-successive wins ended by Royal Challengers Bangalore in Durban. But, to their credit, they responded to that defeat by beating Mumbai Indians in Port Elizabeth, the result downing curtains for Sachin Tendulkar's side in the competition. However, they suffered their fifth defeat in the tournament on Monday.

The previous game between the two teams in Cape Town was washed out. This one though was a wash-out only for Chennai.

Chennai innings:

M S Dhoni won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat first on a wicket that was conducive for the same.

And both his openers, Parthiv Patel (25/19) and George Bailey (30/26), playing in his first match in place of the injured Matthew Hayden, vindicated the captain's decision by giving their side a splendid start.

It is not easy to replace a batsman who holds the Orange cap -- for the most runs in the tournament -- and make an impact. But the 26-year-old Bailey, who plays for the Tasmanian Tigers back in Australia, did precisely that, grabbing his maiden opportunity with both hands.

The Australian began well by dispatching the fourth ball (of Ashok Dinda) he faced through to the square leg boundary.

Parthiv, who was out for a golden duck in the last match against Mumbai, also started on a confident note.

The Gujarat southpaw hit two boundaries in the second over by Anureet Singh, the first ball of the over past mid-off, and glanced the last ball past the fine leg fielder.

Bailey was further assertive in Dinda's second over (KKR's third), hitting successive boundaries, the first a pull over midwicket and the second behind backward point.

Ajit Agarkar replaced Anureet and Bailey greeted him by hitting him over extra cover for a four.

Chennai had raced to 35 after four overs and that prompted Kolkata skipper Brendon McCullum to introduce spin inside the Powerplay.

However, Parthiv slammed Murali Kartik's first ball back past mid-on for his third boundary.

The diminutive batsman hit another boundary off Brad Hodge and that shot brought in the 50-run partnership for the opening wicket, Chennai racing to 54 without loss in six overs.

But Kolkata did not have to wait long to secure their opening breakthrough, Parthiv getting run-out from a direct hit by Laxmi Ratan Shukla in the second ball of the seventh over.

And in the final over before the strategic time out, Kolkata effected yet another run-out, this time Bailey, to ensure they were back in the hunt going into the break having reduced Chennai to 83 for two.

Chennai came back strong after resumption, with Suresh Raina assuming the role of the aggressor. The UP left-hander first dispatched Ajantha Mendis to the midwicket fence and then cut Kartik behind square on the off side to step up the gear.

Dhhoni joined the party, clubbing David Hussey over long-off for a maximum, and the first of this Chennai innings.

The captain was fortunate to survive two let-offs by the Kolkata fielders, Agarkar first failing to latch on to a tough chance from his own bowling (the ball went to the fence) and two balls later Kartik spurned an easy chance at midwicket.

Chennai made Kolkata pay heavily for their on-the-field blemishes. Raina smashed Mendis for successive sixes in the 16th over, the first over midwicket and the second over mid-on. That over cost Kolkata 17 runs.

Another maximum over midwicket off Dinda helped Raina complete his second half-century of the tournament.

Raina, with 394 runs so far, is Chennai's second highest scorer (after Hayden, 546) but had managed only one half-century (98) in 11 games going into the match.

Moreover, he aggregated just 48 runs in his last three innings and was guilty of losing his wicket at crucial junctures.

However, this innings made up for all his blemishes.

But Raina departed immediately after, a thick outside edge from his blade going straight to Shukla at backward point. 

A few more lusty blows from Dhoni and Albie Morkel (21/10) ensured the Chennai innings didn't lose any momentum following the dismissal and, instead, compounded Kolkata's misery.

The South African southpaw, in particular, was impressive. He hit successive sixes of Agarkar in the final over, the first over square leg and the second straight over the bowler's head, and followed it up with a boundary past the gully fielder.

Agarkar's final over cost Kolkata 19 runs and ensured their chase will be an uphill task.

Kolkata innings:

The Kolkata innings began on a positive note, McCullum hitting successive boundaries of Morkel's first over.

After a quite second over (by Sudeep Tyagi), McCullum stepped up gear, helping his side take 16 runs in the third.

The New Zealand batsman first dispatched Morkel over the extra cover boundary for maximum and followed it up with successive boundaries, the first past the mid-off fielder and the second over the square leg fieldsman.

The Kolkata captain kept up the momentum by pulling Tyagi in front of square for another boundary.

However, the introduction of Muttiah Muralitharan into the attack in the fifth over brought about the dismissal of Sourav Ganguly (4/14).

The former Kolkata captain, who never looked comfortable during his innings, got an inside edge that hit his leg stump and dislodged the bails.

But McCullum did not let Chennai capitalize on their early breakthrough; taking a whopping 22 runs of the sixth over (Tyagi's third).

The Kiwi, after defending Tyagi's first ball, hit four successive boundaries -- to cover point, fine leg, midwicket and extra cover respectively.

The fourth boundary brought up the Kolkata 50, 45 of those coming from McCullum's blade. The captain went a step ahead off the last ball, pulling it over the fine leg fence for maximum.

The six also helped him complete his second half-century in the tournament -- after his 84 not out against Bangalore on the same ground -- and he achieved it off just 21 deliveries.

McCullum's relentless aggression -- Kolkata were 56 for one after the Powerplay period (six overs) -- caught the Chennai bowlers and fielders completely off guard and they looked bewildered.

Hodge smashed straight past Shadab Jakati's head for maximum and McCullum had two boundaries off Muralitharan to ensure Kolkata went into the strategic time-out comfortably placed at 83 for one.

After resumption, it was Hodge who took over from McCullum, getting two boundaries off Raina and smashing Jakati over long-on for another maximum.

McCullum also had a maximum off Jakati, but the bowler had the last laugh when one of his deliveries hit the New Zealander's stumps and dislodged it.

The Kolkata captain put on 90 runs in just 56 balls for the second wicket with Hodge.

Hussey (3/2) was unnecessarily run out.

But in came Wridhimann Saha (25/13) and he eased the pressure by smashing Laxmipathy Balaji first for a boundary and then clearing the midwicket fence for a maximum.

Hodge kept up the tempo, smashing Morkel for successive boundaries in the 18th over, the first of which brought about his third half century.

The Australian, Kolkata's highest scorer in the tournament with 359 runs (11 games), went ballistic in the penultimate over, smashing two sixes of Balaji, the first over long off and the second over the bowler's head.

Balaji's over cost Chennai 19 runs and ensured only six runs were required of the final over.

The final over, by Raina, had some tense moments.

However, Hodge and Saha, who put on 56 runs for the fourth wicket, eventually took their team home.

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