Kolkata Knight Riders edged out Delhi Capitals by three wickets to book a spot in the IPL final.
KKR came out on top in a Qualifier 2 outing which went down to the wire, in Sharjah on Wednesday. Chasing 136, KKR was in a comfortable position, until poor shot selection led to the fall of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan in quick succession.
DC spinner R. Ashwin came in to bowl with KKR needing seven runs from the last over. Ashwin trapped Shakib Al Hasan leg-before, and in the very next ball, Sunil Narine holed out to long-on. With six runs needed in two balls, Rahul Tripathi smacked a straight maximum to seal the match in KKR’s favour.
Earlier, KKR openers Venkatesh Iyer (55, 41b, 4×4, 3×6) and Shubman Gill (46, 46b, 1×4, 1×6) put the chase on the right track. While Venkatesh was his usual aggressive self, Gill was happy to play second fiddle.
KKR vs DC, IPL 2021 HIGHLIGHTS: Tripathi six marks Kolkata vs Chennai IPL final
Venkatesh was fearless, walking down the track to smash a genuine quick Kagiso Rabada for a huge six. The southpaw took a liking to left-arm spinner Axar Patel, whacking him for two maximums in the mid-wicket region. Venkatesh was lucky to receive a life on 23 when Rabada dropped a caught and bowled chance.
When Venkatesh did fall, KKR required just 40 runs in 7.4 overs.
Spinners do the job
After choosing to field, KKR made full use of the slow, low pitch to stifle the DC batters. Only DC openers Prithvi Shaw (18, 12b, 2×4, 1×6) and Shikhar Dhawan (36, 39b, 1×4, 2×6) looked comfortable, but the duo could not convert and make it count.
Spinner Varun Chakravarthy struck in his very first ball, trapping Shaw on the pads with a flat skidder.
Marcus Stoinis, who replaced Tom Curran in the eleven, struggled to get in the groove. Stoinis (18, 23b, 1×4) eventually cracked under pressure, losing his stumps to an attempted slog off pacer Shivam Mavi.
Varun took the crucial wicket of Dhawan, who similarly paid the price for trying to accelerate.
Captain Rishabh Pant entered with DC desperate for quick runs at 83 for three off 14.1 overs. Pant managed to score a four but fell to speedster Lockie Ferguson shortly after.
Shimron Hetmyer hit Ferguson for two sixes to give DC some much-needed momentum. Shreyas (30 no, 27b, 1×4, 1×6) came alive with a six and a four in the 20th over bowled by Mavi. The 15-run final over gave DC some hope, but it was not nearly enough.