Dhoni delivers for the Super Kings

Captain hits commanding half-century under pressure to lead 55-run win over Knight Riders.

MS Dhoni of Chennai hits one to the fence during his unbeaten knock of 66 against Kolkata at Eden Gardens last night.
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MS Dhoni hit a commanding half-century under pressure to help the Chennai Super Kings to a comfortable 55-run win away to the Kolkata Knight Riders. Dhoni, the India captain, hit an unbeaten 66 and put on 109 in an unfinished stand for the fourth wicket with Subramaniam Badrinath (43 not out) as the Super Kings recovered from a poor start to reach 164 for three off their 20 overs. In reply, Kolkata managed a feeble 109 all out to crash to their first defeat in three IPL matches.

The Knight Riders enjoyed a tidy start and secured an early breakthrough when the Australian batsman, Matthew Hayden (one) dragged a delivery from Ishant Sharma back onto his stumps. Murali Vijay, who had promised much, was dismissed in similar fashion for 33 by Laxmi Shukla and the Super Kings slipped further when Suresh Raina was bowled for 18 by Brad Hodge. At 55 for three and with his team in a spot of bother, Dhoni walked out to join Badrinath and steadied the innings with some sensible batting.

The run rate, a measly 4.4 at the end of the first five overs, gradually rose above the six-run mark and the Super Kings, with wickets in hand, were nicely poised for the push in the final overs. Dhoni turned up the heat by first smashing Shukla for a six and two fours, treated Shane Bond with similar disdain and, with Badrinath chipping in with a six off the first ball, smacked Ishant for 16 in the final over, despite the duo suffering a collision while completing a second run off the fourth ball.

The Knight Riders conceded 61 runs in their last four overs, Dhoni reaching his half-century - his fifth in the IPL - off only 28 deliveries. The Super Kings carried their momentum into Kolkata's reply with Albie Morkel removing Hodge for a second-ball duck in the first over with the new ball. Manpreet Gony, who replaced Sudeep Tyagi in the line-up, bowled Manoj Tiwary in the next over while Lakshmipathy Balaji and Justin Kemp ran through the middle order - Sourav Ganguly, Owais Shah, Angelo Mathews and Rohan Gavaskar all went cheaply - to leave the home side tottering at 79 for seven. The last-wicket pair of Ishant and Murali Kartik held up the Super Kings, but victory was eventually achieved when Kartik was run out. * With agencies