IPL 2018: Billings shines as CSK seals a thriller

Andre Russell's lone effort was overshadowed by a Billings special as CSK trumped KKR with one ball to spare.

Sam Billings impressed with the bat.   -  K. PICHUMANI

Andre Russell's lone hand (88, 36 b, 11x6, 1x4) went in vain as Sam Billings powered (56, 23 b, 5x6, 2x4) Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to a thrilling five-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in its first home game - since returning from the ban - at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.

Chasing a mammoth 203 to win, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu got CSK off to a flying start. Watson hammered 16 off Vinay Kumar's first over, setting the tone for, what eventually proved to be, a spellbinding chase.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla conceded 14 off his second and 17 off his fourth over as CSK breached the 50-run mark inside the first 24 deliveries.

Watson and Rayudu were clinical in their shot making. They picked the gaps to perfection and timed the aerial shots exceedingly well.

The KKR fielders helped CSK's cause with some sloppy fielding - dropped catches and misfields piled further misery on the visitor.

Tom Curran got rid of dangerous looking Watson in the sixth over; the Australian right-hander holing out to Rinku Singh at the cow-corner.

Watson's wicket gave KKR a foothold as Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav tried to tighten the noose on CSK. The spin duo went for only 25 in the next five overs, with Kuldeep removing Rayudu (39, 26b, 2x6, 3x4) in the ninth over.

Suresh Raina, struggling with cramps, failed to impress with the bat and was caught at long-on to leave CSK struggling at 103/3 in 12 overs.

Dhoni, however, brought the crowd back on its feet when he carted Kuldeep for a six and a four, and Billings kept the home team in the hunt with some colossal blows off Curran; the two added 54 for the fourth wicket. 

Chawla soon removed Dhoni but Billings, in the company of Ravindra Jadeja, took CSK on the cusp of a nerve-wracking win. The Englishman dispatched Russell for two sixes off consecutive balls, the first an unbelievable shot over fine leg and the second over long-on, in the 18th over, to bring the equation down to 27 off 12 balls.

Curran rose to the occasion, removing Billings in the penultimate over. With 17 to defend off the final over, Bravo and Jadeja took CSK home with just one ball to spare.

 

The Russel Mania

Earlier, KKR racked up 64 runs in the powerplay before losing its way in the middle overs. However, it was rescued by a marauding Russel, who peppered the Chepauk fences with big hits galore.

He dispatched an erring Shardul Thakur, who had replaced the injured Kedar Jadhav, for two sixes in two balls and then had his compatriot Dwayne Bravo searching for answers.

The Caribbean all-rounder, at one stage, had scored 10 sixes, eight singles in 20 balls (Two of those were dot balls). He brought up a crucial 76-run sixth wicket partnership with Karthik before stitching together an unbeaten 37 runs with Curran, propelling KKR past the 200-run mark.