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