IPL 2021: KKR recover from late tumble to beat Delhi Capitals, reach IPL final
- The twice former champions won by three wickets with a delivery to spare in the low-scoring Qualifier 2 in Sharjah. KKR will face Chennai Super Kings in the final on Friday
After a 96-run opening partnership in a chase of 136, Kolkata Knight Riders would have thought they had sealed the game. But T20 cricket can change in a couple of overs. That is what happened in the Qualifier 2 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Down and out after the 16th over, with KKR needing 13 runs in 24 balls, Delhi Capitals’ Avesh Khan and Kagiso Rabada produced two brilliant overs to bring their side right back into the game.
After Khan conceded two runs and claimed a wicket in the 17th over, Rabada gave away just one and took a wicket in the 18th to ensure there would be a twist in the tale of this high-stakes game. Anrich Nortje bowled the 19th over for three runs and a wicket to leave KKR needing seven off six balls.
Bowling the last over, when R Ashwin removed Shakib Al Hasan to make it six runs off three balls, it was advantage Capitals. Sunil Narine holed out first ball, the fourth of the final over, and six was needed off two balls. Rahul Tripathi though held his nerves and ensured his openers' superb effort was not in vain, smashing Ashwin’s fifth ball for six to clinch a three-wicket win.
KKR, into their third final, will take on Chennai Super Kings in the summit clash on Friday.
The best time to attack in Sharjah is against the hard new ball. Once it goes soft, getting power behind the shots becomes impossible. KKR managed their powerplay overs well. And it proved to be the difference which allowed them to comeback even after their horror show in the last four overs of the game.
Around 50 is considered par score in the first six overs at this UAE venue, the smallest but most difficult to clear for the batters. After deciding to bowl first, KKR restricted Capitals to 38/1 after six overs. The Rishabh Pant-led side never managed to get away from the slow start, finishing on 135.
In reply, openers Shubman Gill and Ventakesh Iyer powered KKR to 51 for no loss in six overs. It brought down their chase to 85 runs off 84 balls. The openers put on 96 runs in 12.2 overs to make it an easy chase, till the bumpy final stretch. Iyer was again the catalyst of the purple brigade’s batting performance with a 41-ball 55 (4x4, 3x6). Gill made a 46-ball 46.
Rishabh Pant tried five different bowlers for his first five overs but nothing worked against KKR’s openers. He gave the new ball to Ashwin, and when he went for nine runs, brought on Axar Patel. The left-arm spinner was also taken for nine runs. Iyer was the aggressor. He picked a four off Ashwin and clobbered Patel for six. In the fifth over, the southpaw dared to dance down to Kagiso Rabada and smash him over long on for his second six.
After five overs, KKR were 42 for no loss. Avesh Khan wasn’t spared either. The first ball off Khan’s second over, the final of the powerplay, was whipped past midwicket for four. Gill had started his innings with a glorious off-drive off Anrich Nortje, but seeing his partner’s early flourish, Gill was content play second fiddle. After six overs, Iyer was 31 off 20 balls, Gill 17 off 16.
The run-rate taken care of, the two wisely eased off after the field restrictions were lifted. The seventh and eight overs by Ashwin and Rabada were milked for five and six runs each, reducing the equation to 69 off 66 balls. Iyer made it less than run a ball by lifting Patel’s first ball of the 10th over beyond the midwicket fence. The 75-run partnership was reached in 9.5 overs with Iyer on 44 and Gill on 26.
Spin was going to be the Capitals’ best option to make a match of it. But at the 10-over mark, Ashwin and Patel had been tamed. The off-spinner’s figures read 3-0-20-0 and the left-armer’s 2-0-18-0. Pant fell back to his express pacer Nortje. But there was no respite with 12 runs coming off the 11th over. Iyer duly completed his fifty off 38 balls with a single off Patel.
It was a day when most things fell in place for KKR. Having won all their matches in the UAE leg whenever they chased, they got a shot in the arm when captain Eoin Morgan called correctly at the toss and fielded.
All the focus was on their spinners, but KKR’s pace duo of Lockie Ferguson and Shivam Mavi did an admirable job. The spin troika of Sunil Narine, Varun Chakaravarthy and Shakib Al Hasan were again their miserly self on the sluggish Sharjah track. It was obvious the DC batsmen had to look to target the pacers. They gave nothing away. Mavi finished with figures of 4-0-27-1 and Ferguson returned 4-0-26-1. If not for their last overs at the death when Shimron Hetmyer and Shreyas Iyer managed some big hits, they would have finished with even better figures.