9 Apr 2011

Southee stars as Chennai launch IPL with close win

5:38 pm on 9 April 2011

New Zealand paceman Tim Southee's death bowling has helped his new Indian Premier League team the Chennai Super Kings pull off a thrilling two-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in Friday's opening match of the rich Twenty20 cricket competition.

With Kolkata needing nine runs off the final over, the Northern Districts fast bowler restricted the Knight Riders to just six while taking one wicket for the Super Kings, who are the defending champions and are coached by former Black Caps skipper Stephen Fleming.

Chasing 154, Kolkata were cruising at 112 for two before losing five wickets for 35 runs to hand the defending champions a last-ball victory at the Chidambaram Stadium, which had hosted World Cup matches only a few days back.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who led India to World Cup victory last week, hugged his Chennai team-mates as cheergirls danced merrily in the background, marking a rollicking start for the tournament which was hit by scandals last year.

A glitzy opening ceremony earlier kickstarted the cricket carnival with superstar and Kolkata owner Shah Rukh Khan grooving to popular Bollywood numbers amid wild cheers from nearly 40,000 delirious fans.