McCullum, Hodge star in Knight Riders’ emphatic win (Lead)

May 19th, 2009 - 2:00 am ICT by IANS  

Centurion, May 19 (IANS) Brendon McCullum and Brad Hodge smashed imperious knocks to lead Kolkata Knight Riders to a seven-wicket mauling of Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Monday, but the victory was in vain.
Knight Riders are long out of the tournament, buried under a heap of defeats, but their victory gave hope to other teams who are fiercely fighting for semi-final spots.

Super Kings, who are at second place in the standings with 15 points, will now have to win their last league match to finish among the top four.

Delhi Daredevils are the only team to have made the semi-final. Deccan Chargers, Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers are all in fray to enter the last four stage.

Chasing a tough 189-run target, Knight Riders, who registered only their second victory in the tournament, pulled off a brilliant win in the last over courtsey McCullum’s 81 off 41 balls and Hodge’s unbeaten 71 off 44 balls.

McCullum’s return to form has long been awaited, and Monday night he exploded in brilliant fashion, though it came too late for the Knight Riders, who have been bogged down by controversies and poor form in the tournament.

The Kiwi, who has been criticised for failing to lead the team from the front, struck 11 fours and three sixes.

McCullum started with two fours off Ablbie Morkel in the first over and then launched a blistering charge in the fast bowler’s next over, smacking him for two more fours and a inside out six off extra cover.

Sourav Ganguly was completely off colour and gave away his wicket to Muttiah Muralitharan.

But there was no stopping McCullum, who continued with some audacious hitting.

Sudeep Tyagi was dispatched for 22 runs in the sixth over. Four consecutive fours and a six off Tyagi brought McCullum’s half-century in just 21 balls.

McCullum shared 90-run stand with Hodge, who hit four fours and as many sixes.

Shadad Jakati finally dismissed McCullum and Hodge took charge from there on.

Hodge and Wridhimann Saha (25 off 13 balls) hit a flurry of shots in the end to see the team through.

They needed six off the last over of Suresh Raina and picked these up through singles.

Earlier, Super Kings got off to a good start through Parthiv Patel (25) and George Bailey (30), scoring 59 runs in 37 balls to lay the foundation of a big score.

Raina (52 off 37 balls) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (40 off 28 balls) then entertained the crowd with some big hits.

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