Kolkata Knight Riders marched ahead to the Finals of the IPL-V tournament beating Delhi Daredevils in the Qualifier 1 held at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, Pune on Thursday. With the help of the victory they became the first IPL team to qualify for the finals this year. Add to this, this is the first time Kolkata Knight Riders have made it to the finals in the IPL history.
Winning the toss and batting first, Kolkata knight Riders got off to a brisk start with their in-form captain scoring at a healthy pace with elegant drives and pulls through extra cover, fine-leg and midwicket. On a slow and sluggish pitch the opening pair for the team Brendon McCulum and Gautam Gambhir posted a solid partnership of 48 for the first wicket. The first wicket fall came up in an ungainly fashion with Gambhir, who had by then scored 36 off the 48 at a strike rate of 200, was run-out. Had he been a little quick it was not that a difficult call to be overturned but Gambhir took a long way to go.
Then the things slowed down for KKR in the process of building the basement for the innings by McCulum and Kallis. The rushed up overs and the increased pressure of posing a daunting total in a must-win match resulted in the wickets of McCulum and Kallis who scored 31 and 30 at strike rates of 86 and 90 respectively. Even the experienced duo failing to accelerate showed the slowness of the pitch and its assistance for the spinners as Delhi's only specialist spinner finished his spell with figures reading 4-0-18-1.
Even as the best allrounder in the world at present, Shakib, got out early Delhi's pace packed bowling line-up clearly had the upper hand at the moment as they had two new batsmen at the crease who were not known for good performances in this edition. One, the big hitting all rounder Yusuf Pathan, who had been failing miserably all through the tournament and the other, Laxmi Shukla, who had not got much oppurtunities to justify his selection for the team. But the duo accelerated beautifully and changed the course of the match by hitting some powerful lusty blows. They added 56 runs in just four overs to take their team from 106/4 at the end of 16 overs to daunting total of 162. Yusuf Pathan came in big at the crunch time and made 40 runs of just 21 balls which included 3 fours and 2 sixes. His partner was no less than him and made 24 of just 11 balls and helped to build an above par score.
With a target of 163, a mammoth on the sluggish track, Delhi made a good chase before making a hash of everything. Their openers made a steady start before Warner had to make the long walk back to the pavilion for harsh caught behind decision. The ball did not seem to touch any part of the bat or glove, yet the caught behind appeal was upheld. Just on the first ball of the next over Balaji showed way for the Dangerous opposng captain Sehwag who nicked an outswinger to the keeper.
With Delhi's openers back in the hut in the span of two balls the middle order batsmen,Mahela Jayawardene and Naman Ojha did not loose their way in the stiff chase. They brought up a half century stand at a good pace by hitting occasional boundaries. Mahela, especially, was a class act during his innings with sublime stroke making and immensly impressive timing. But he could not carry his innings through as he got stumped off Abdulla trying to heave a ball over the onside.
As the asking rate mounting and Venugopal Rao struggling at the crease, DD's captain Sehwag took a bizarre decision of promoting Pawan Negi ahead of the likes of Ross Taylor and Irfan pathan to up the tempo. But this move backfired soon and Delhi were sinking right inside the pit of defeat when Ross Taylor arrived. Yet the big hitting Kiwi hit a six against te mistery Narine it was far from enough. In the End it was jut the matter of confirmation of the ticket of Finals for KKR as they managed to get past Delhi in their penultimate hurdle.
The big hitting Yusuf Pathan was named the man of the match in the end for his useful 40. However the contribution of Sunil Narine and Jacques Kallis was also evitable.
With this win Kolkata have sealed a birth in the finals while Delhi will have another shot at achieving the ticket. Delhi will take on the winners of the Eliminator which is to take place between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings in their next match.