Minutes after the Kolkata Knight Riders qualified for the playoffs on Wednesday, skipper Gautam Gambhir justified his persisting with all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, saying he was a "match-winner".
Surprisingly, Yusuf had failed to dominate any of KKR's nine victories in IPL-V going into their
last league encounter against the Pune Warriors on Saturday. Neither had Yusuf been able to play his trademark cameos that had taken games away from the opposition in the past nor could he stem the flow of runs with his off-breaks.
However, the lanky cricketer eventually justified his captain's faith in him through the league phase by playing a crucial role with the ball to help KKR register a 34-run victory.
A target of 137 was always going to be tricky for the hosts, considering the wicket was helpful to slow bowlers. However, Jesse Ryder got them off the blocks quickly despite Abdulla accounting for Robin Uthappa early.
Then came Yusuf's two overs which changed the course of the game. He first saw Michael Clarke charging down the wicket and spun one down the leg side to allow Brendon McCullum to whip the bails in a flash. In his next over, he got rid of Ryder with one that pitched on middle and leg and went on to hit the off stump. Then on, it was always an uphill task for PWI.