Gambhir’s unbeaten 32 ensured that KKR overcame the early rattles and progressed to a rightful win. © BCCI
In what was a dramatic, rain-affected Eliminator, Kolkata Knight Riders nearly shot themselves in the foot before Gautam Gambhir prevented the panic attack from spreading through and took his team to victory. The win ensured that KKR lived to fight another day, and will be facing Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 on Friday (May 19). It also meant that the defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad, bowed out from this edition of the Indian Premier League. And for that they will be blaming a collective batting failure.
This game could have probably done without a toss for both captains knew what they wanted to do much before, and it was the exact opposite of the other. David Warner preferred to be setting the target while KKR wanted to chase. Gambhir got it his way in the toss and even after that. On a pitch that offered a little bounce early and progressively became two-paced, KKR’s bowling group gelled well yet again to ensure that SRH got no momentum at any point. A fifty-run stand between Warner and Kane Williamson threatened to get the team to a bigger score but when both fell in quick succession with the score just 75, the momentum shifted once again. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Piyush Chawla, who both came in for this game, had a big impact with the wickets they took as SRH’s innings meandered to 128.
The chase was always looking a simple one on paper. It would have probably been tougher on the ground. But between the breaks, KKR’s biggest challenge was to just get onto the ground.
In what was probably one of the more dramatic rain breaks, play was stopped for around three hours. Three hours of calculations going back and forth, ground conditions and weather conditions being analysed and a tense KKR team. At that point there was a chance that they could have been knocked out if the rain didn’t relent. SRH had the advantage of finishing higher in the league stages, and that allowed them some cheeky smiles as well when the rain came down just after the innings break. KKR waited on tenterhooks for the rain to relent and when it finally did, well past midnight, they were left with a target of 48 runs in six overs. The wait probably did them in the head as well for the chase started rather bizarrely.
Chris Lynn smoked a six over point first but just when the nerves were settling, Bhuvneshwar Kumar set them tangling by having Lynn caught behind. KKR tinkered with the batting line-up by sending in Yusuf Pathan next, and in desperation to get off the mark he found himself being run out off the first ball. Soon after Robin Uthappa pulled a short one straight to deep square leg, and left KKR in a situation where they were well and truly rattled at 12 for 3 in 1.1 overs.
A livid skipper was left to do the finishing job for KKR after seeing some experienced batsmen throwing their wickets away under pressure. He proceeded to ease the nerves with a couple of crispy cuts and pulls that helped KKR view the target for just what it is, a simple one, and not a monster that it was seemingly made out to be. Gambhir’s unbeaten 32 ensured that KKR overcame the early rattles and progressed to a rightful win.
Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 128/7 in 20 overs (David Warner 37; Nathan Coulter-Nile 3/20) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 48/3 in 5.2 overs (Gautam Gambhir 32*) by seven wickets by DLS method.