Kolkata Knight Riders would not have thought they would be in such a position where they would need to their last match to decide their fate. The way they had started the campaign, they should have been in the qualifiers a good 2 matches ago but that’s how cricket is, full of uncertainties. But as they say, all is well that ends well. Kolkata came back good to beat the Sunrisers Hyderabad comprehensively to seal their spot in the playoffs.
KKR had an advantage in this match as they were playing in their own backyard, the Eden Gardens.
A ground which they know like the back of their palms. The Kolkata wicket is known to be low and slow which helps the spinners but the Sunrisers played the same bowling unit which is heavy on seam and that was their undoing. Kolkata on the other hand played 3 specialist spinners which finally turned the match in favor of KKR.
Sunrisers won the toss and elected to field. KKR started well with both Gambhir and Uthappa looking good upfront but a spell from the 4th over to the 8th over where they scored 24 runs for the loss of 3 wickets pushed them back. At 57 for 3 in the 8th over, it looked difficult for the KKR batsmen to put up a substantial score.
Manish Pandey and Yousuf Pathan came together for the 4th wicket batted beautifully to pull their team out of the pit.
Pandey took on the bowlers early on in his innings while Yousuf Joined later to stitch together a match turning partnership of 87 runs in just about 8 overs. It was a difficult pitch to score but the innings from Pandey and Yousuf gave KKR a good foundation to defend. Once both these batsman got out, the new batsmen found it really difficult to connect the ball as KKR finished at 171 for 6 in their 20 overs. At one stage they looked likem getting 190 to 200 but 171 on this wicket could be called a winning score.
Sunrisers hoped to chase it down in order to finish 2nd in the points table to have the luxury of a second chance but that was not to be.
A rare occasion in this year’s IPL; Warner failed as he was out for just 18 runs in the 4th over. KKR attacked with the spinners from the very first over and kept the Sunrisers in check for most part of the innings. Dhawan played well but was the lone batsman fighting as other batsmen failed to support him and move the score further. Dhawan scored 51 off 30 balls as he perished on the boundary, trying to go for a maximum.
Yuvraj hit a couple of big ones but could not move further as other batsmen failed to read the spinners and kept falling like nine pins.
Finally the SRH succumbed to the pressure of the rising asking rate as they managed just 149 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in their 20 overs, giving KKR a win by 22 runs and a place in the playoffs.
KKR would enter the playoffs on a high where as the Sunrisers were already in the playoffs but this performance could dent the confidence of the team. They have a couple of days to regroup and address their issues.