On 26 March 2024, IPL 2024 got off to an exciting start. Kolkata Knight Riders beat Chennai Super Kings by 6 wickets in the tournament opener. KKR restricted CSK to a low score before chasing it down. Both teams lacked key players. Following the delayed arrival of Moeen Ali, CSK gave Devon Conway his first IPL cap. CSK were without Pat Cummins who is currently on Australia’s tour of Pakistan. Both teams had new captains. While KKR had Shreyas Iyer at the helm for the first time, CSK named Jadeja as Dhoni’s successor skipper.
Early wickets spell trouble for CSK
KKR won the toss and put CSK in. The decision paid off almost immediately, as Umesh Yadav sent back Ruturaj Gaikwad, without scoring, in the first over. Yadav got a second wicket — that of Devon Conway’s — to reduce CSK to 28 for 2. Robin Utthappa appeared to be in fine touch, hitting fours and sixes with ease. However, a brilliant stumping by Sheldon Jackson off the bowling of Varun Chakravarthy ended his resistance. A few balls later, a brilliant throw from Shreyas Iyer had Ambati Rayudu run out. Andre Russell then had Shivam Dube caught by Narine to leave CSK floundering at 61 for 5 in the 11th over.
Dhoni, Jadeja fight back
That was the cue for Dhoni and Jadeja to get together in a repair job. Though both batsmen — Dhoni (50 off 38 balls) and Jadeja (26 from 28) — remained unbeaten, it was too little too late. Between overs 12 and 17, Dhoni was completely at sea against the wares of Sunil Narine. Bowling with guile, KKR’s veteran spinner kept the former CSK skipper guessing.
Playing for the googly, Dhoni was constantly beaten by the ball leaving him outside the off stump. At the other end, Jadeja struggled for fluency. The CSK skipper had to wait until the last ball to get his only boundary – a six!
CSK reached a relatively respectable score of 131/5. However, it was never going to be enough on a wicket that offered nothing to the bowlers. Additionally, the incidence of dew when KKR batted helped justify their decision to bat last.
KKR register easy chase
Opening KKR’s innings, Rahane top-scored with 44 off 34 balls. The low target gave the former India batter plenty of time to settle. Rahane’s technical finesse was evident as he struck the ball fluently. A series of good starts from Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Shreyas Iyer, and Sam Billings helped KKR’s cause.
In particular, the KKR skipper shepherded the innings maturely. His side reached the target with six wickets and seven balls to spare, getting their campaign off to a winning start.
Dwayne Bravo was CSK’s most impressive bowler on the night. The West indies allrounder took 3/20 in his quota of four overs, snaring the wickets of Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, and Billings.
What went wrong for CSK?
CSK missed Moeen Ali’s contributions with bat and ball alike. Furthermore, Deepak Chahar’s unavailability hurt their bowling resources. They would have also rued the absence of Du Plessis whom they lost to RCB at the auction. However, but for Rayudu’s unfortunate run out, CSK could have added 20 to 30 more runs to the score.
That said, due credit must go to Shreyas Iyer for his brilliant handling of KKR’s bowling resources. At the risk of repetition, KKR were without their champion fast bowler Pat Cummins.