Kent’s new captain Sam Billings hit 56 off just 23 balls as he helped steer Chennai Super Kings to the top of the 2018 Indian Premier League table.
The 26-year-old is missing the start of the 2018 County Championship, drawing some criticism from fans who would have preferred him to take the take St Lawrence Ground pitch for the season opener on Friday.
Billings has said he could not pass up the chance to play in the IPL – and showed his mettle in his debut innings for CSK at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai yesterday.
Kolkata Knight Riders had scored an imposing 202/6 off their 20 overs with West Indian Andre Russell the stand out man for his 88 off 36 deliveries.
Aussie Shane Watson (42) and Ambati Rayudu (39) set CSK off to a promising start until wickets began to fall to a bowling attack which featured England and Surrey’s Tom Curran, who took 2-39 off three overs.
Billings came in to bat in the 12th over with the MS Dhoni-led Super Kings on 101-3 and needing more than 100 runs off the remaining 50 balls.
He hit five sixes and two fours in his 56 off 23 balls before perishing to Curran with his side still needing 19 to secure a second IPL win.
It was left to Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo to pull off an extraordinary victory, taking 17 off the final over bowled by Vinay Kumar.
After the game Billings said: “Of course this means a lot to me and to the team, but also it means a lot to the fans who have not cricket here for the last two years.
“Just to get across the line in the first game back was how it was meant to be, I suppose.”
Billings became Kent captain when Sam Northeast left for Hampshire in January.