Mahendra Singh Dhoni (43 not out in 25 balls) continued his good form with the bat to help Chennai Super Kings (CSK) post a challenging 177/5 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday.
Skipper Dhoni — who was dropped by Shubman Gill on 29 — started the fireworks with a pullover midwicket off young pacer Shivam Mavi (0/21) for a six.
In the next over, India’s 50-over and T20 World Cup winning captain swatted out-of-sorts Mitchell Johnson (0/51) for a flat six to set the tone for another of his vintage knocks. Dhoni’s innings was laced with four sixes and one four.
Gill made matters worse for the hosts when the U-19 World Cup winning batsman let the ball burst through his fingers at the square leg fence with the ball going for a six.
Dhoni finished proceedings with a four off Piyush Chawla (2/35) in the last ball of the final over but lacked that flourish which he has shown in his previous few innings.
Along with Ravindra Jadeja (12), he stitched together a 54-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Sunil Narine was the pick of the bowlers for KKR, returning figures of 2/20 in four overs.
The atmosphere was electric inside the stadium as well as outside, with much of the fanfare around the CSK side and their iconic skipper M.S. Dhoni.
A sea of yellow engulfed parts of the Eden as every boundary was cheered vociferously, giving a feeling of it being an away match for KKR.
Faf Du Plessis (27; 15b 4×4 1×6) and Watson (36; 25b 4×4 2×6) got off to a good start, helping CSK race to 48/0 in five overs.
Johnson was taken for 19 runs in the fifth over, getting spanked for two sixes and a four.
Chawla ended the 48-run opening partnership by getting rid of Du Plessis with a googly that disturbed his stumps. In the same over, new batsman Raina hit two boundaries before Karthik dropped the southpaw when he was on 8.
At the end of six overs, CSK were 57/1.
Raina (31; 26b 4×4 0x6) and Watson joined hands for a 43-run stand for the second wicket, helping the visitors to 90/1 at the halfway stage, before the latter picked out Shivam Mavi at deep midwicket off Sunil Narine.
In the next over, Raina followed suit, trying to slog-sweep Kuldeep Yadav (1/34) only to end up dragging a catch to Johnson at wide long-on.
Narine — who went wicketless in the last two games — removed in-form Ambati Rayudu (21; 17b 3×4 0x6) with a sharp offbreak that burst through the batsman’s defence and rattled the stumps.
The West Indian mystery spinner bowled a superb third over, conceding just four runs along with the wicket.
Dhoni then pulled the team to a fighting total with Jadeja for company before the latter got out to Chawla in the 20th over.
Brief scores: Chennai Super Kings 177/5 (Dhoni 43; Sunil Narine 2/20, Piyush Chawla 2/35)