Win on return meant to be, says Billings

Sam Billings struck a crucial knock of 56 as Chennai Super Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in its first home game in two years.

Sam Billings sends one to the fence during his 56-run match-winning knock against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday.   -  AFP

When Sam Billings came into bat at the halfway stage of the 11th over alongside M. S. Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings required to score at more than 12 runs an over to chase down Kolkata Knight Riders' 202. But Dhoni, true to his demeanour, remained calm. "He (MS) didn't really say too much (when I joined him in the middle). It was a matter of running between the wickets and minimising the dot balls," said Billings.

And that's what Billings exactly did. The Englishman hit two boundaries and sent the ball sailing over the boundary line on five occasions. In his 23-ball knock, he ran 10 singles and five twos; the only dot ball he played was when he miss hit a Tom Curran slower ball straight at long-off to leave Chennai within 19 of the target in the penultimate over.

READ: Billings shines as CSK seals a thriller

In the end, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja profited off some wayward death bowling from Vinay Kumar to pull off a thrilling win over Kolkata Knight Riders with just one ball to spare. For Billings, this probably was a dream come true. The 26-year-old, who was bought by the franchise for his base price, had made clear of his excitement of playing alongside Dhoni.

On Tuesday night at the Chepauk, he revelled in the midst of the Indian batsman in a 30-ball 54 run stand for the fourth wicket. After Dhoni departed, Billings took over and delighted the loyal CSK fan base, who were witnessing their team in action for the first time in two years.

"Of course, it means a lot to me (on the match-winning role) but also to the team. But, even more so for the fans who haven't had cricket here for the last two years. We saw the passion in our practise game. We saw 10,000 fans rock up for the practice game. And Dhoni wasn't even here. And to get over the line in your first game back, I guess its kind of meant to be I suppose," said the English wicket-keeper batsman.

Russell's comeback upstaged

On the other hand, for KKR's Andre Russell it was one of those nights which he has seen one too many times in T20 cricket. He bulldozed his way to a 36-ball unbeaten 88, sending sixes soaring out of the ground.

"I have played a lot of T20 games. A lot of times teams score 190-200 and still lose the game. We knew it was important to start well and keep it as tight as possible. We were confident, obviously, going off with 200 on the board. It was a good team effort. I am not going to sit here and point fingers. We are going to learn from this. Next time, we will make sure we will nail our yorkers and be more precise," said the 29-year-old West Indian allrounder.

The year 2017 was a difficult one for Russell. He was banned for a year for a doping violation and returned to a cricket field only in February this year.

"I think my confidence is very high. Confidence is all you need in sport. And self-belief. This one year made me a different person. I have learned how to be humble and stay on top of whatever you do as a professional. I just know that these things (playing professional cricket) don't happen again. I wouldn't say I am 100 per cent. I am happy; the ball is coming off the bat good and I am bowling with pace," Russell said of his comeback. 

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