Yusuf Pathan (72 off 22 balls) stole all the headlines even as the Kolkata Knight Riders made it to the top-two of the Pepsi IPL 2014 points table by upstaging CSK’s net run-rate. Needing to scale the 161-run target set by Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Knight Riders got home in just 14.2 overs with five wickets in hand. In the process, Yusuf also recorded the fastest fifty in IPL history in front of a capacity crowd at Eden Gardens.
Earlier, KKR drew first blood after opting to field first; Morne Morkel bowled David Warner (4) out in the first over of the match. However, Shikhar Dhawan and Naman Ojha then brought the SRH innings back on track. They helped the visitors score 49 runs in the powerplay and continued to strike regular fours and occasional sixes. But in the eighth over, Ojha (26) had to walk back to the dugout, after he was caught by Ryan ten Doeschate off his own bowling, leaving SRH on 69 for two. And 20 runs later, Dhawan (29) also departed, as a result of a run-out.
Darren Sammy then joined forces with Venugopal Rao and took the SRH score past 100 – in the 14th over. The pair added 32 runs off 16 balls, before Rao (27) also fell prey to a mix-up that resulted in his run-out. Shakib Al Hasan then foxed Srikkanth Anirudha (3), who was promptly stumped by Robin Uthappa in the 17th over. However, Sammy and Jason Holder ensured they took their team’s total past the 150 mark, thanks to their 18-ball 28-run stand. But both batsmen got out in the final over of the innings. Holder (16) was the first to go, courtesy a run-out – the third of the innings. Sammy (29) departed off the very next ball when he holed out to Shakib off the bowling of Vinay Kumar. SRH ended up posting a competitive 160 for seven in 20 overs.
In response, Gautam Gambhir (28) went after the opposition bowlers from the word go. He was ably supported by Robin Uthappa as the duo added 43 runs in quick time. However, the KKR skipper got out off the bowling of Holder in the fifth over. Manish Pandey (2) was the next man to depart; with the KKR score on 55, the middle-order batsman holed out to Dale Steyn off Karn Sharma’s bowling. Meanwhile, Uthappa (41) kept chipping away at the target. But his 30-ball innings came to an end when he tried to dispatch Karn Sharma over the fence and ended up handing a catch to Holder in the 10th over. KKR then suffered another blow in the same over as ten Doeschate (0) was found short of his crease.
At the halfway mark, the scorecard read 78 for four, and two of KKR’s most hard-hitting batsmen – Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan – were in the middle. Thanks to two fours and two sixes off Yusuf’s willow, the 11th over yielded 22 runs. The right-hander then struck two more maximums in the next over as he brought the required rate under six-an-over. However, KKR needed to scale the target in 15.2 overs to upstage CSK’s net run-rate and end up in the top two on the points table.
But Shakib (1) was dismissed in the same over – the 12th of the innings – by Karn Sharma. However, Yusuf did not relent as he struck Steyn for a four and a six off back-to-back deliveries to bring up his fifty, off just 15 balls – the fastest half-century in the IPL. Unfortunately for Steyn and SRH, it did not end there as Yusuf struck another six and two fours off the South African pacer to plunder a total of 26 runs off the 13th over. Yusuf (72) hit another six – taking his innings tally to six maximums – before Karn Sharma ended his 22-ball blinder.
However, Suryakumar Yadav – who struck two big hits himself, including the score-tying six – made sure KKR got home in 14.2 overs. As a result of this thumping five-wicket victory, the Knight Riders finished their league play ahead of CSK and will now face KXIP in Qualifier 1, at Eden Gardens on May 27.
Man of the Match: Yusuf Pathan for his match-winning half-century