KKR beat KXIP by 28 runs, enter IPL 7 final
An exemplary bowling performance on a slow pitch helped Kolkata Knight Riders win the qualifier, their eighth successive match, and take a victory lap of the Eden as if they had won the tournament.india Updated: May 28, 2014 23:20 IST
Before Wednesday, Kings XI Punjab have batted second on six occasions in this IPL and have won every time. But an exemplary bowling performance on a slow pitch helped Kolkata Knight Riders win the qualifier, their eighth successive match, and take a victory lap of the Eden as if they had won the tournament.
The win might not have been that easy had not KXIP taken some surprising decisions. Not playing L Balaji, adept at taking pace off the ball, or Sandeep Sharma and sending Akshar Patel ahead of George Bailey in such a crucial chase were costly errors. But above all, choosing to bowl here was the most baffling. Against a better bowling team may be even the conventional wisdom of batting second because of a rain threat was a difficult plan to execute.
Still it was a see-saw match where KKR didn't look in complete control till the 14th over. And the start was scary too. Gautam Gambhir couldn't get enough meat behind a pull off Mitchell Johnson, leading to an easy catch for Bailey at mid-on in the second over of the match. That created a lull which wasn't broken till Robin Uthappa got KKR's first four in the third over, whipping Akshar off his thighs towards fine-leg. His flowing form couldn't have been more visible than the drive against Rishi Dhawan, over the bowler's head, to fetch a six that propelled KKR to 55 after the end of Powerplay.
But call it coincidence or otherwise, Shah Rukh Khan's entry at the Eden concurred with KKR losing Uthappa and Manish Pandey in the ninth over. Most KKR batsmen got starts but failed to flourish. A miserly 2/11 by Akshar, who also got his maiden India call-up, put pressure on KKR.
With the pitch slowing down though, it proved to be just enough. The first three overs went for nine runs but by dismissing Virender Sehwag, Man-of-the-Match Umesh Yadav ensured Sunil Narine got down to his job earlier than expected. As long as their Indian batsmen were at the crease, Kings XI looked in charge. Wriddhiman Saha and Manan Vohra showed gumption in taking the game to KKR. But the only occasion they were ahead of the D/L par score after the fifth over was because of Vohra's consecutive sixes against Shakib.
Otherwise Kings XI were sentenced to a slow death. Maxwell failed for the third time against KKR. And Morne Morkel made even his last ball count by sending off Saha who was threatening to cut loose. Ball of the match though came from Piyush Chawla. David Miller looked to step back and cut Piyush Chawla but the ball stayed lower than expected and turned almost square to crash into his stumps. That was a killer blow.