IPL 2022: Dhoni's fifty goes in vain as KKR beat CSK by 6 wickets
Ajinkya Rahane of Kolkata Knight Riders hits a four during the opening match of IPL 2022 against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on March 26, 2022.Ron Gaunt/IPL

IPL 2022: Dhoni's fifty goes in vain as KKR beat CSK by 6 wickets

Mumbai, March 26, 2022

Former captain MS Dhoni's fighting fifty went in vain as Kolkata Knight Riders registered a comfortable six-wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the IPL 2022 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.

KKR bowlers Umesh Yadav (2/20) and Varun Chakaravarthy (1/23) bowled well and restricted CSK to 131-5 despite Dhoni's 50 off 38 balls.

Chasing a modest target, openers Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer gave KKR a solid start. Starting with some crisp drives and a stunning pulled six off Adam Milne, Rahane got off the blocks swiftly. He continued in a similar vein and took KKR to 35/0 after five overs along with Venkatesh.

It was Dwayne Bravo, who gave CSK their first breakthrough by getting rid of Venkatesh (16) in the 7th over of the innings. Nitish Rana, who came to bat next, played an important cameo of 21 runs and stitched a 33-run stand for the second wicket with Rahane before he got out to Bravo.

Soon, Rahane, who set the tone in the chase by his fine knock of 44, also got out to Mitchell Santner. Thereafter, CSK managed to string together a few tight overs and brought the equation to around run-a-ball. However, Sam Billings played a supporting hand, remaining busy in a 22-ball 25 before becoming Bravo's third victim of the match.

But Billings had done enough along with skipper Shreyas Iyer, who remained unbeaten on 20 and helped KKR chase down the target in 18.3 overs with six wickets in hand.

Earlier, batting first, CSK were off to a bad start as KKR pacer Umesh removed Ruturaj Gaikwad for a duck in the very first over of the innings. Robin Uthappa then joined the other CSK opener Devon Conway at the crease. Uthappa looked in fine touch right from the beginning and hit a few lovely shots to get CSK going. However, debutant Conway struggled to find runs at the other hand and Umesh dismissed him for three to pluck his second wicket.

Experienced Rayudu then joined Uthappa in the middle and they looked to rebuild the CSK innings. KKR captain introduced Varun Chakaravarthy in the last over of the powerplay and Rayudu got a lucky boundary, taking CSK to 35/2 at the end of the 6th over.

Just when it looked like the stand between Uthappa and Rayudu was building, CSK lost another wicket. On a wide delivery bowled by Varun, Uthappa (28) went after it blindly only to misread it and the wicket-keeper Sheldon Jackson stumped him in a flash.

Already in trouble, CSK then lost the wicket of Rayudu (15) after a mix-up between him and skipper Jadeja. All-rounder Shivam Dube, who came to bat next, couldn't do much and was dismissed by Andre Russell for three, leaving CSK tottering at 61-5 after 10.5 overs.

After losing back to back wickets, Dhoni and his successor Jadeja had the big responsibility on their shoulders of bailing CSK out of trouble. However, both Dhoni and Jadeja couldn't free their arms under the tremendous pressure and CSK played many consecutive quiet overs.

With only 84 runs on the board after 17 overs, CSK desperately needed some big hits to post a respective total. And Dhoni hit three boundaries in Russell's over to give CSK's innings some momentum.

Jadeja, on the other hand, wasn't able to find any timely boundaries. But, Dhoni showed his class and hit some glorious shots in the last two overs to complete his fifty off 38 balls.

In the end, both Jadeja (26 off 28) and Dhoni remained not out and had added 70 runs for the sixth wicket and took Chennai to 131/5 in 20 overs.

Brief scores: Chennai Super Kings -- 131-5 in 20 overs (MS Dhoni 50 not out, Robin Uthappa 28; Umesh Yadav 2/20) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders -- 133-4 in 18.3 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 44, Sam Billings 25; Dwayne Bravo 3/20) by 6 wickets

IANS

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