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Kolkata thrashes titleholder Chennai in IPL opener

March 26, 2022 GMT

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Chennai Super Kings’ defense of the Indian Premier League title started woefully after they were crushed by Kolkata Knight Riders in their rematch of the 2021 final on Saturday.

Kolkata easily chased down Chennai’s 131-5 with nine balls to spare. Opener Ajinkya Rahane top-scored with 44 while Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s vintage 50 not out off 38 balls went in vain for Chennai.

Kolkata scored 133-4, five months after it couldn’t eclipse Chennai’s 192 in the 2021 final in Dubai.

Kolkata’s chase got off to a solid start with openers Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer sharing 43 runs. Then Rahane put on another 33 with Nitish Rana, 21.

Dwayne Bravo gave Chennai hope by removing Venkatesh Iyer and Rana and taking 3-20.

But Kolkata was never under pressure, and kept the scorecard ticking over in dewy conditions.

Rahane fell at 87-3 in the 12th over, caught off Mitchell Santner, and Sam Billings picked up the pace by smacking 25 off 22 balls, including a four and a six.

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Billings was Bravo’s third wicket, but the win was in sight and completed by Shreyas Iyer and Sheldon Jackson.

Chennai started the IPL’s opening match badly. Ruturaj Gaikwad, the top scorer of last year’s league, was out for a duck and fellow opener Devon Conway fell for 4 as Umesh Yadav took 2-20 and was named man of the match.

“I did the role my team wanted me to perform today,” Yadav said. “For me, it is about bowling rhythm and I am thankful to my trainers for keeping me in shape.”

Robin Uthappa scored 28 off 21 balls to arrest the slide somewhat, but Ambati Rayudu was run out in a mix-up between them. Uthappa was stumped by the fast reflexes of Jackson.

Chennai struggled for any momentum and was reduced to 61-5 past the halfway mark, but Dhoni and new Chennai skipper Ravindra Jadeja batted out the last 55 deliveries and put on an unbeaten 70.

Jadeja scored 26 off 28 balls, with one six, while Dhoni turned back the clock with his first IPL half-century since 2019.

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