Brad Hogg continued to make age look pointless in T20 cricket for the second straight game, while Andre Russell made that powerful blade of his do his six-hitting bidding at will to help the Kolkata Knight Riders to an eventually comfortable win over the Chennai Super Kings.
Meeting just a couple of days after they played each other in Chennai, when CSK won by two runs, KKR did what they do best – chase down big totals in front of their own fans at the Eden Gardens.
Hogg (4-0-29-4) ensured that chase would not be unbreachable with a spell-and-a-half, restricting CSK to 165/9 in their 20 overs, before Russell (59, 32b, 5x4, 4x6) and Robin Uthappa (80, 58b, 7x4, 1x6) combined brilliantly to see their side home with a ball to spare.
Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir (19, 16b, 2x6) gave KKR a decent start, going at a fair clip in the first four overs, before the skipper was sent back by Mohit Sharma. Manish Pandey's underwhelming season continued as he holed out in the deep to the bowling of Negi (4-0-23-1), with Suryakumar Yadav also flattering to deceive again as Ronit More picked up his first IPL wicket on debut.
Those three wickets meant, it was all down to Uthappa, who needed a big score to get his IPL campaign back on track, to see his side through, with Russell aiding him in that quest quite well as the duo put on 112 runs together in a shade over 10 overs.
When Russell starts finding anywhere remotely close to the middle of that bat of his, it is tears time for the bowlers, and the West Indian went about ruthlessly smashing those fours and sixes to tilt the game in KKR's favour, when at one point, with the equation at 100 from 60 balls, it looked like CSK might make it two wins in two against the defending champions.
Uthappa played his part extremely well too, finding those boundaries when needed, and ensuring Russell never felt under too much pressure to find multiple boundaries – not that it stopped him from doing that, mind.
Some touch play from Uthappa, combined with brutal hitting from Russell in the 15th and 16th overs, off Ashish Nehra and Ravindra Jadeja, brought the equation down from 63 in 36 to a very makeable 34 in 24, and with the two in full flow, the result was never in doubt from there.
The CSK innings was in three parts – the Brendon McCullum blitz, the Brad Hogg-inspired turnaround and then a few smashes towards the end from an unlikely source in Negi.
McCullum had to take-off for CSK after Dwayne Smith fell first ball, driving a Pat Cummins to Ryan Ten Doeschate, who took a stunning diving catch to his right in the covers. And take-off the New Zealand smasher did, with Cummins getting some special treatment.
Thanks to McCullum's ridiculously quick innings of 32 (12b, 3x4, 3x6), CSK had that run rate pointing north, even after Suresh Raina fell to Umesh Yadav in the fourth over, with that momentum only coming down once Hogg came to the party.
The left-arm chinaman bowler was brilliant against the same side a couple of days ago, and he was even better this time around, sending McCullum back lbw first ball and then accounting for Faf Du Plessis (20, 11b, 5x4), who was looking quite dangerous, in the same over as well.
Piyush Chawla, the leg-spinner, then backed Hogg up by sending the CSK captain MS Dhoni packing, leaving the Super Kings teetering on 72/5 in just 6.5 overs.
With the run rate quite high, all CSK needed was a decent partnership, and Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja provided just that with a 57-run alliance in just under 10 overs. That partnership, even if Bravo (30, 32b, 4x4) and Jadeja (24, 30b, 1x4, 1x6) could not quite go slam-bang, gave Negi (27, 13b, 4x4, 1x6), in for the injured R Ashwin, an opportunity to go into tonk-town and he did that pretty well to help CSK to a decent score, which just wasn't enough to topple KKR.