McCullum and Hodge half-centuries give Kolkata victory

CENTURION, South Africa, (Reuters) – Belligerent half-centuries by Brendon McCullum and Brad Hodge took the Kolkata Knight Riders to a seven-wicket victory off the last ball against the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League yesterday.

McCullum opened the innings as Kolkata chased a stiff target of 189, and the New Zealander raced to his 50 off just 21 balls to equal Yusuf Pathan’s IPL record set for the Rajasthan Royals against the Deccan Chargers in Hyderabad last year.

The Kolkata captain was eventually bowled by left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati for 81 off 48 balls, with 11 fours and three sixes, leaving his team 65 runs to get in six overs.

Hodge immediately warmed to the task and his ball-striking  was impressively clean as he took Kolkata to victory with a  top-class innings of 71 not out off 44 balls, which included  four fours and four sixes.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha played a supporting role with an unbeaten 25 off 13 balls as Kolkata scored the last of the six runs they needed off the last ball of the match.

Chennai’s bowling fell shy of expectations, although champion off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan baffled the batsmen as he took one for 16 in four overs.

The Chennai total of 188 for three was built around a rapid partnership of 74 for the third wicket between Suresh Raina (52) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (40 not out).

South African all-rounder Albie Morkel then unleashed an assault on Ajit Agarkar, scoring 17 in the final over as he reached 21 not out off 10 balls.

The victory was just the second in 13 matches for Kolkata, while Chennai will be under pressure to win their last match, against the Punjab Kings XI in Durban tomorrow.

Chennai are still second in the standings but can be  overtaken by the Deccan Chargers, Punjab or Rajasthan Royals  should they win their final match of the round-robin phase and  the Super Kings lose.

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