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Brad Hogg, Robin Uthappa: KKR’s avengers

A Kiwi in yellow got Eden Gardens going. But once a 44-year old Aussie had his say, KKR cruised home with Robin and Russell providing the finishing touch.

A Kiwi in yellow got Eden Gardens going. But once a 44-year old Aussie had his say, KKR cruised home with Robin and Russell providing the finishing touch.

Kiwi in yellow

Dwayne Smith was out first ball after Gautam Gambhir won the toss and decided to field on a good Eden Gardens pitch. Pat Cummins bowled a loosener wide outside the off stump and the Chennai Super Kings opener hit it uppishly towards cover. Ryan ten Doeschate took a blinder, diving to his left. Then, Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum took it upon himself to teach the young Aussie fast bowler a lesson. (Full Coverage| Fixtures|Points Table)

McCullum opened his account with a six over cover. Cummins over-corrected his line and bowled a wide down the leg side that went for four. McCullum charged down the wicket next ball and hit another six over the straight boundary.

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Next over, Umesh Yadav was welcomed with a glorious cover drive by Suresh Raina but a turnout of over 60,000 was waiting to see McCullum in action. He didn’t disappoint.

Sixteen runs were taken from Cummins’s second over — a glance down the fine leg for four, followed by a pull to deep backward square for another boundary and then a ramp over third man for a six. It was absolute carnage.
Yadav removed Raina — caught by Piyush Chawla at mid-on — but McCullum was undeterred. He responded with two more boundaries. 52/2 after four overs and the visitors had a terrific start.

Chawla had removed McCullum with a googly at Chepauk. Here, the batsman gained an upper hand with three fours in the leggie’s first over. The fans were gasping for breath. Gambhir’s frown grew deeper.

44-year old Aussie

Under pressure, the Kolkata captain turned to Brad Hogg. The 44-year-old Aussie had an excellent game two days ago, playing as Sunil Narine’s replacement. Here, he accounted for McCullum with his first ball. The latter had misread the top-spinner and was caught plumb in front. Four balls later, Hogg fooled Faf du Plessis with a wrong’un. The batsman had walked down the wicket and attempted a push down the leg side. But the ball turned the other way and Robin Uthappa had an easy stumping. The wily old man put the brakes on.

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The momentum had swung towards the hosts. Chawla went through MS Dhoni’s defence and at 72/5, Chennai suddenly had a rebuilding job to do.

But Hogg wasn’t finished yet. He came back for his final spell after Pawan Negi had clattered Cummins for three fours in an over. With two overs remaining, Chennai were aiming something in the region of 180. But Hogg dismissed a well set Ravindra Jadeja and then cleaned up Negi. Four wickets for 29 runs in four overs; it was an outstanding effort.

The finishing touch

Uthappa had thrown away a start at Chepauk. But today he was timing the ball beautifully. A four through mid-wicket off Mohit Sharma in the first over was gorgeous. Ashish Nehra was carted to the long-off boundary next over. But it was controlled aggression with Gambhir taking on the bowling at the other end.

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The left-hander flattered to deceive. Then Uthappa had a reprieve with Nehra dropping a relatively easy return catch. The opener concentrated on building his innings.

Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav got out inside six deliveries; 109 runs were required from 11 overs. Uthappa was anchoring one end but Kolkata needed raw aggression at the other.

It was imperative to negate Bravo, Chennai’s best death-over bowler. Russell hammered him for two fours to lead the charge. Uthappa didn’t allow Nehra to hit the groove, taking two fours and a six in the first over of his second spell. Russell swatted Jadeja to the long-on boundary and then sent him to the ‘G Block’ top tier. The game was changing.
Bravo came back for his second over, Russell dispatched him over the deep mid-wicket boundary. The next ball went over the square leg fence. The Jamaican raced to his half-century off just 25 balls. Uthappa had reached there two overs previously – his first half-ton in this IPL.

The two remained unseparated till the end to add 112 runs (10.4 overs) for the fourth wicket. Kolkata won by seven wickets with one ball remaining. In hindsight, the missed stumping of Uthappa cost Chennai dear. Negi had beaten him in the air, but Dhoni fumbled. The batsman was on 28 then.

First published on: 01-05-2015 at 12:54:01 am
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