The Kolkata Knight Riders took a step closer to the VIVO IPL 2017 Finals after they defeated defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets in a rain-affected Eliminator which was played in Bengaluru. After winning the toss, KKR bowled and fielded extremely well to restrict SRH to 128-7. The skies opened up in the dying stages of SRH innings and reduced the run-chase to a six-over affair, with KKR needing to get 48.After a slippery start – when KKR lost three wickets in the first seven balls of the chase –Gambhirtook control of the chase and saw the team past the finish line.
KKR were brilliant at the start of the match and did not give anything away early in the contest. Gambhir was brilliant with his field placements, and the bowlers responded too by bowling disciplined lines and lengths. KKR’s intensity and aggression was there for all to see; the pacers generally banged the ball in short of length, and did not give the batsmen any room, or lengths to play the drives. The pressure built up steadily, and that eventually resulted in the dismissal of Shikhar Dhawan (11 from 13 balls), who attempted to break the shackles but top-edged to the wicket-keeper.
David Warner and Kane Williamson (who was one of four changes made to the SRH XI) stitched a 50-run partnership that gave the innings a platform from which to build. Both batsmen struggled to force the pace early on and were a shadow of the fluent batsmen they’re known to be. In the ninth over, Warner deposited Piyush Chawla into the stands at midwicket, in the process becoming the quickest to get to 4000 IPL runs and the first overseas batsman to get to the milestone. In the following over, Williamson whipped one to the midwicket boundary, before depositing one into the stands at square-leg. In the tenth, Warner latched on to a half tracker from Sunil Narine and sent it into the stands at long-on. The innings had gained some much-needed momentum; after being 30-1 at the end of powerplay, SRH had added 41 in the next five overs to reach 71-1.
The second wicket partnership was broken in the twelfth over when Williamson attempted to drive a length delivery from Coulter-Nile, but didn’t get sufficiently under it and picked the man at cover; Williamson made 24 from 26 balls, and his knock contained two boundaries and a six.
Warner (37 from 35 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) was cleaned up by a googly in the following over, and at that stage SRH had two new batsmen at the crease. The returning Yuvraj Singh played two sweet drives – one through long-off and one that sailed over the ducking non-striker – before he holed out to midwicket, while Vijay Shankar’s cameo – 22 from 17 balls – ended in the nineteenth over when he miscued a pull to long-on.
SRH eventually finished at 128-7 – their lowest total of the season; they had added 68 runs in the middle period and a further 30 runs in the last five overs.
For KKR, Umesh Yadav (2/21) and Coulter-Nile (3/20) were outstanding; they not only strangled the SRH batsmen, but also picked up half the side between them. Trent Boult (1/30) and Piyush Chawla (1/27) also chipped in with wickets, while Narine was miserly, conceding only 20 runs in his four overs. KKR were good with their catching too. The catch that Coulter-Nile took to dismiss Chris Jordan was sensational; having delivered the ball, the fast bowler had to swiftly move two paces to his left on his follow throw, stretched his body and his left hand fully, and came up with the ball in hand. The wicket-keeper Uthappa too took a good catch to dismiss Dhawan; the ball went miles up in the air and hung in the air for a long while, but Uthappa had his eyes on the ball all the time and took a well-judged catch.
The skies opened up just around the time the Sunrisers Hyderabad innings was drawing to a close, and it was not until 0055Hrs (on Thursday) that KKR’s chase would begin. Chris Lynn hit the first ball he facedfor a six over cover point before edging Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the wicket-keeper. Yusuf Pathan, surprisingly sent in to bat at number three, was run out in search of a panic single. At the start of the second over, Robin Uthappa’s fierce pull found Shikhar Dhawan at square-leg, and KKR were in strife at 12 for 3.
But with the required rate manageable, Gambhir kept his calm, and in the company of IshankJaggi(playing his first IPL match since 2012), steered the team past the finish line. Courtesy Gambhir’s 32 not out (which contained 2fours and 2 sixes), KKR accomplished the chase with four balls to spare.
As a result of this win, KKR will now meet the Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2, which will be played in Bengaluru on Friday. For the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad, it will be the end of the road where VIVO IPL 2017 is concerned.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 128-7 (David Warner 37, Kane Williamson 24, Vijay Shankar 22, Nathan Coulter-Nile3-20, Umesh Yadav 2-21) Kolkata Knight Riders: 48-3 in 5.2 Overs (Gautam Gambhir 32*)
Result: Kolkata Knight Riders won by 7 wickets (DLS Method)
Man of the Match: Nathan Coulter-Nile