Luck smiles on Super Kings

Makhaya Ntini picked up four wickets in the match including a hat-trick.-S. PATRONOBISH

As rain halted play, the Duckworth-Lewis method kicked in to hand the hapless Kolkata Knight Riders another defeat. S. Sabanayakan reports.

For the second successive time a match in the DLF Indian Premier League was decided by the Duckworth-Lewis method. As luck would have it, Knight Riders found itself on the losing side after a thunder squall stopped play when the Chennai side, chasing a victory target of 150 in 20 overs, was 55 for no loss in eight overs.

Despite the best efforts of the ground staff, the match could not be restarted and the officials declared Super Kings the winner by three runs as per the D/L method.

There was drama aplenty prior to the stoppage of the match. Super Kings was cruising comfortably at 47 for no loss at the end of the seventh over. Off the fourth ball of the next over, bowled by Ajit Agarkar, opener Parthiv Patel was dropped by Ashok Dinda. Soon rain halted play.

As per the D/L method, Kolkata’s 149 for five turned out to be 52 in eight overs. Had Dinda taken the catch, Chennai not only would have lost a wicket but the single would have been denied to it. This would have raised Kolkata’s score to 54 and thus the two teams would have been level. So the two points available from the match would have been shared by the teams.

And if the new batsman had failed to score four runs off the remaining two balls of the eighth over, then Chennai would have ended losing the match. Considering the weather condition, the Chennai team openers were instructed to keep up the scoring rate. Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who was playing his first match at the hallowed Eden Gardens, was a picture of confidence.

He made a superb 32 not out off 20 balls with six fours. His partner Patel remained unbeaten on 19 off 28 balls. The way the two negotiated Shoaib Akhtar and Ishant Sharma’s pace and bounce was really creditable.

Sourav Ganguly had no hesitation to bat on winning the toss. But the opening combination of Salman Butt and Mohammad Hafeez failed to give a flying start. Wickets fell at regular intervals. Only the third wicket partnership between Salman Butt (73 runs, 54 balls, 10x4, 1x6) and Debabrata Das (27, 32b, 1x4, 2x6), which added crucial 86 runs in 67 balls, paved the way for the later batsman to take the team’s total to 149 for five.

Clearly the hero of the match was South African paceman Makhaya Ntini. The right-arm fast medium bowler achieved a well deserved hat-trick — third in the championship after L. Balaji of Chennai Super Kings and Amit Mishra of Delhi Daredevils — clean bowling all his three victims, Ganguly (4.6), Das (16.1) and David Hussey (16.2). Thus he set another record, becoming the second bowler from Chennai Super Kings to achieve the feat. And rightly he was adjudged the Man of the Match.

The Scores

Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders, Eden Gardens, Kolkata, May 18.

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by three runs (D/L method).

Kolkata Knight Riders 149 for five in 20 overs (S. Butt 73, D. Das 27, L.R. Shukla 13 n.o, W. Saha 15 n.o., Makhaya Ntini 4-21) lost to Chennai Super Kings 55 for no loss in 8 overs (P. Patel 19 n.o, S. Fleming 32 n.o.). Rain stops play.