The change in jersey colour for KKR brought little success last IPL where they reached in top 4 spots and this time with logo changed they have made it to the finals. Although SRK has had a tough time in 5th season of IPL, but his KKR is playing at their best under Gautam Gambhir. With the win over table-toppers DD, they have reached finale for first time and after four seasons of at times embarrassing underachievement, Kolkata Knight Riders will play for the IPL trophy on Sunday.
In a battle between the two leading sides in the regular season, Kolkata came out on top after Delhi could make only 144 for eight in pursuit of a victory target of 163. Kolkata go through to the final in Chennai on Sunday with this win but Delhi still have a chance of meeting them there as the Daredevils now face the winner of today’s eliminator between the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.
DD strategy of playing with four pacers didn’t help their cause as match dwindled away towards KKR with three quality spinners. On a pitch where the first ball of spin turned sharply, Knight Riders had three spinners waiting; Delhi Daredevils stuck to playing three specialist fast bowlers. Slow bowlers, especially spinners, were feared to be in danger in the early days of the Twenty20 phenomenon. However, as the format evolved, the spinners were considered a bigger threat to the batsmen – both in terms of restricting the scoring as well as taking wickets when needed.
Winning the toss and electing to bat first, Gautam Gambhir had once again gave KKR a strong start, taking the fast bowlers for several boundaries. He sped to 32 off 16 deliveries before he failed to make his ground to a direct hit from mid-off. Just when it seemed Knight Riders had wasted Gambhir’s efforts upfront, Yusuf and Shukla launched into the quick’s. Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav kept bowling in the late 140s with Morne Morkel not far behind. But the faster they bowled; the ball only came on better on the slow pitch.
KKR with the help of a late batting onslaught by Yusuf Pathan, managed to pile a nifty total of 162 runs with Pathan remaining unbeaten on a blistering knock of 40 runs off 21deliveries. Yusuf Pathan, who had done almost nothing the entire season, and Laxmi Shukla, playing in place of an unfit Manoj Tiwary, carted the quick’s for 56 off the final four overs, and 36 off the final two, as Knight Riders surged to 162. The core of the attack that had taken Daredevils to No. 1 position after the league stage had been taken apart. Yadav and Morkel went for 37 each, Aaron for 48, including 21 in that final over.
In the chase, despite losing Virender Sehwag and David Warner in the first 13 balls, Daredevils were right in the hunt at 83 for 2 after 10 overs. Just when it seemed Daredevils had done themselves in even before Sunil Narine came on, Naman Ojha and Mahela Jayawardene responded with the highest stand of the match. Though the general lack of pace in the Knight Riders attack started to make its presence felt, Ojha and Jayawardene kept the runs coming. The duo was in control when Ojha cut a long hop from Bhatia straight to Gambhir at backward point. A few tight overs and Venugopal Rao’s struggle further increased the pressure on Jayawardene. The threat of Narine, who gave just seven runs in his first two overs, forced him to attack the other bowlers, eventually leading to him being stumped off Abdulla in the 15th over.
With 55 needed off 32, Sehwag sent in Negi ahead of Taylor, who hit his third ball from Narine for six over wide long-on. Daredevils did not help their cause, sending Pawan Negi ahead of Ross Taylor, who finally came in at No. 7 when the asking-rate was more than 14 an over. But it was too late by then. Daredevils have another chance to get it right in the second qualifier on Friday.