Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni praised the Kolkata Knight Riders, the vanquished finalists of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 edition, for their grand comeback in the UAE leg as they reached the summit clash despite a poor first part of the tournament. The former India captain said if any team deserved to win the IPL 2021 title it was Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
Dhoni's CSK defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the final on Friday to clinch their fourth title, restricting KKR to 165/9 in 20 overs after putting up a mammoth 192/3 in their allotted 20 overs. Despite KKR making a brilliant start in their chase of the stiff target, Dhoni's men kept their nerves and claimed wickets at regular intervals to win the title.
KKR were languishing at the seventh spot in the table with just two wins in seven matches when IPL 2021 was halted in April due to a Covid-19 outbreak among the players.
So, for them to reach the final was a great achievement and they came in for praise from Dhoni during the presentation ceremony after the match.
"Before I start talking about CSK, need to talk about KKR. Difficult to come back and do what they have, if any team deserved to win the IPL, it's KKR. Huge credit to the coaches, team, and support staff. The break really helped them," Dhoni said on Friday night.
In the UAE leg of IPL 2021, Kolkata won seven of their 10 matches, losing twice to Chennai Super Kings and once to Delhi Capitals, qualifying for the playoffs as the fourth-placed team.
Chasing 193, the way KKR openers Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer started the chase, it looked like the target would not be that difficult to achieve. But once both of them were out, Kolkata's chase fell through as they lost wickets at regular intervals to end up with 165/9 in their 20 overs.
They were also hampered by the injury to their top middle-order batsman Rahul Tripathi, who was forced to leave the ground midway during the contest.
The incident happened on the first delivery of the seventh over of CSK innings, when Tripathi run in from the deep to prevent openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis from stealing a double. But before he could stop the ball, it hit him on his ankle and he was soon seen hobbling to the boundary line for the physio to attend to him.Tripathi was greatly hampered in his batting and thus could not step into his usual role after the departure of the openers.