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In what turned out to be an anticlimactic finish to the battle of the top two, the Kolkata Knight Riders overcame Kings XI Punjab by 28 runs. As a result, the Gautam Gambhir-led side has stormed into the Pepsi IPL 2014 Final – to be held at 8 pm on June 1, 2014. KKR Innings
Powerplay: KKR bounce back after losing the toss and their skipper
Earlier, George Bailey won the toss and chose to field first at Eden Gardens. The decision paid off as Mitchell Johnson struck in the second over to get rid of Gambhir (1). But Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey then partnered to bring the innings back on track. Riding high on his great run during the league stage, Uthappa raced away to 37 off 21 deliveries during the powerplay. Even Pandey joined in the action – albeit a bit later – as KKR posted 55 for one in the first six overs.
During this period, barring the first two overs – which cost a combined five runs – every other powerplay over yielded at least nine runs. In fact, the fourth over, bowled by Johnson, went for 17, including two fours and a maximum by Uthappa.
Middle Overs: KXIP make crucial dents before death overs
KXIP did much better initially with the field spread out. Against the run of play, Akshar Patel conceded just three runs off the seventh over. And while KKR scored nine runs off the next over, Akshar dismissed the dangerous Uthappa (42). And off the very net ball, the KXIP spinner bowled Pandey (21) out, leaving KKR on 67 for three after nine overs. And at the halfway stage, the scorecard read 73 for three, with Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan in the middle.
Yusuf then survived a close leg-before shout in the next over, off Johnson. But the big-hitting batsmen did get into the groove, and after playing a few iffy shots, struck a six in the 14th over. However, soon thereafter, Shakib (18), who was looking to emulate his batting partner, ended up holing out to David Miller off the bowling of Karanveer Singh. And then, for a second time in the game, KKR lost two wickets in two balls off a spinner, as Yusuf (20) also got out off the leggie while trying to dispatch him over the ropes. Thanks to the two double-blows, the middle overs saw KKR score 57 runs for the loss of four vital wickets, with the scorecard reflecting 112 for five after 15 overs.
Final Stretch: KKR post 163/8 despite rain and spin
With two new batsmen – Ryan ten Doeschate and Suryakumar Yadav – at the crease, KKR looked to accelerate in the last five overs. However, their attempt was initially interrupted by a spell of rain. And then, even Akshar, who bowled the 16th over, muzzled the batsmen, giving away just two runs. But Yadav unleashed in the next over, striking a six and a four, helping KKR plunder 14 from it. ten Doeschate then took a leaf out of his partner’s book and smashed two maximums off Karanveer, before the young spinner cleaned up Yadav (20) , leaving KKR on 145 for six after 18 overs.
Johnson then got rid of ten Doeschate (17) and conceded only three runs off the 19th over. And while Sunil Narine (0) was run out, Piyush Chawla (17*) – courtesy three fours – plundered 15 runs off the final over to push the KKR total to 163 for eight.
For KXIP, Karanveer picked up three wickets for 40, whereas Akshar claimed two wickets, but conceded only 11 runs during his entire spell.
Powerplay: Openers depart in a mixed start
Even KXIP suffered an early loss as Virender Sehwag (2) was dismissed by Umesh Yadav in the second over. But Manan Vohra (26) then took the attack to the KKR bowlers. The young opener struck three maximums, until his departure – off the bowling of Morne Morkel – in the sixth over. During his brief stay in the middle, he was well-supported by Wriddhiman Saha as KXIP posted 46 runs in the first six overs, despite losing both their openers.
Middle Overs:Bowlers take over as rain eases
The middle stretch could not have started better for KKR as Umesh trapped the dangerous Glenn Maxwell (6) leg-before in the eighth over. Saha and David Miller then joined forces. Given the perpetual threat of rain, they had to keep an eye on the Duckworth-Lewis equation while steadying the run-chase. At the halfway point, they helped their side to 68 for three – 96 runs adrift of the target.
And while Saha (35) was looking solid and struck a six in the 11th over, Morkel got the better off him in the next over while attempting another big hit, leaving KXIP in dire straits at 80 for four. Then, in a surprise move, Bailey promoted Akshar ahead of him at No.6. But the KXIP skipper soon had to take strike anyway, as Chawla cleaned out Miller (8) a couple of deliveries later. And then, in the over next over, a run-out resulted in Akshar’s (2) downfall. By the end of the 15th over, KKR had KXIP pinned at 92 for six.
The crucial nine-over middle period saw the batting side put up just 24 runs for the loss of three wickets.
Final Stretch:Sporadic, late onslaught inadequate to overcome Umesh and co.
With a massive 72 runs needed in the final 30 balls, Rishi Dhawan came in to bat with Bailey, but the duo could only manage five singles off the 16th over. Although Bailey and Dhawan (14) struck a six each over the next few balls, the latter was stumped off Shakib, leaving KXIP on 117 for seven in 17.3 overs. But Bailey and Johnson continued to clobber the KXIP spinner, plundering a total of 21 runs from his over.
But then, Narine came to bowl and neutralised the damage done in the previous over, by conceding four runs off the next six tricky deliveries. The run-chase equation read 30 runs off six balls with Gambhir handing the ball to Umesh. The pacer vindicated his captain’s decision by getting the key wicket of Bailey (26) off his first ball. The new man in, Karanveer (1*), could only manage a single off the next delivery, thereby putting the game beyond KXIP’s reach. And the next four deliveries completely foxed Johnson (10*) and produced no runs, capping off a fabulous last over by Umesh – who was also the pick of the KKR bowlers as he finished with outstanding figures of 4-0-13-3.
In the end, KXIP could only manage 135 for eight in their 20-over quota.
Man of the Match: Umesh Yadav for his incredible bowling performance
Wankhede Stadium erupted in intermittent chants of “Corey, Corey,” “Rayudu, Rayudu,” “Tare, Tare,” and of course, “Mumbai, Mumbai” as emotions as diverse as joy, relief and disbelief swept through a sea of blue. In a match that was meant to separate the two sides – Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals – for the lone available Playoffs spot, emotions took centre stage as the defending IPL champions made it to the final four – albeit miraculously. Needing to scale the 190-run target set by RR in just 14.3 overs, MI managed to tie the score in the stipulated time. With the two sides’ net run-rates deadlocked, MI needed a boundary off the final ball, but what they got instead was a six to top off an improbable passage to the post-season.
Earlier, MI won the toss and asked the visitors to take first strike at Wankhede Stadium. However, much to the capacity crowd’s chagrin, Sanju Samson made sure he gave his team a good start. Although Shane Watson (8) was dismissed in the sixth over, the young RR opener stepped on the pedal with Karun Nair for company; in fact, the latter was the dominant partner during their second-wicket stand. RR were on 59 for one at the halfway stage. But then, the duo went on an all-out attack, and scored 19, 12, 16, 15 and 13 runs off over nos. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 respectively. In the process, both batsmen reached their half-centuries as well.
However, Jasprit Bumrah ended their 57-ball 100-run stand by claiming the wicket of Nair (50), leaving RR on 134 for two after 15 overs. And soon thereafter, Shreyas Gopal got rid of Samson (73). Brad Hodge and James Faulkner then joined forces. After a couple of quiet overs, they took the attack to the MI bowlers. Thanks to their late onslaught, which produced a total of 46 runs in the final three overs, RR were propelled to a huge total. And despite Faulkner’s (23) dismissal – off the bowling of Kieron Pollard – in the final over, RR ended up posting 189 for four as Hodge (29*) struck a four off the final delivery of the innings.
In order to make the Playoffs, MI needed to get over the line in 14.3 overs. Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey gave them a flying – but brief – start. After adding 19 runs, Simmons (12) was dismissed by Dhawal Kulkarni in the second over. But Corey Anderson, who came in at No.3, also joined in the big hitting. He added 34 runs with Hussey (22), before the latter was cleaned up by Kevon Cooper in the fifth over. The RR pacer then got rid of Pollard (7) a few deliveries later. Despite the three early wickets, MI managed 70 runs in the powerplay.
Anderson then continued to go after the RR bowlers and added 47 runs off 26 balls with Rohit Sharma (12). But Kulkarni dismissed the MI skipper in the 10th over to leave the home side on 108 for four. Anderson, meanwhile, reached his half-century with a big hit later in the over as MI reached 120 at the halfway stage.
What transpired over the next 4.4 overs was nothing short of surreal. The MI faithful were witness to arguably the most famous win in franchise history as Anderson (95*) and Ambati Rayudu (30) went after the RR attack with all their might, and then some! Scoring boundaries and maximums at a remarkable rate, the duo brought the Playoffs qualification equation down to 20 runs off nine balls after scoring 19, 18 and 13 runs off the 11th, 12th and 13th overs respectively. With the crowd on the edge of their seats, Anderson struck two fours off Pravin Tambe, to bring the equation down to 10 runs off three balls after the leggie’s over.
Shane Watson then handed the ball to Faulkner, who conceded a single off the first ball he bowled that over. Rayudu then stepped up to the plate and dispatched a full-toss over the fence. With MI needing two runs off one delivery to make the Playoffs, Rayudu struck the ball to mid-off, and he scampered for a single. However, an over-throw from Brad Hodge saw both batters going for the winning run. But Rayudu was run-out in the attempted second run, as the RR dugout leapt in jubilation.
But there was a twist in the tale. As a result of the tied scores at the end of 14.3 overs, both MI and RR sported identical net run-rates. Hence, as per fresh calculations, it was clear that MI were still in with a chance to qualify, provided they scored at least a four off the next delivery. Then thanks to Aditya Tare (6*), they did not get just a four, but in fact, a big six on the leg side to seal an emphatic win and their passage to the Playoffs.
MI will now face CSK in the Eliminator at Brabourne Stadium on May 28.
Man of the Match: Corey Anderson for his superlative match-winning knock