Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Kolkata Knight Riders Enter Fourth IPL Final With Dominant Win Over Sunrisers Hyderabad

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Mitchell Starc-powered Kolkata Knight Riders’ juggernaut rolled into the IPL final as the two-time champions produced a ruthless performance against Sunrisers Hyderabad for an eight-wicket win in Qualifier 1 on Tuesday. Starc produced a stunning opening burst of three wickets in the powerplay to break the back of SRH’s dangerous batting. They were eventually shot out for a mere 159 in 19.3 overs with Rahul Tripathi scoring a vital 55 while Heinrich Klaasen (32) and Pat Cummins (30) also fought hard. On a benign wicket in steaming hot conditions, SRH’s fight petered out as KKR knocked off the innocuous 160-run target in a mere 13.4 overs with skipper Shreyas Iyer (58 not out off 24) and Venkatesh Iyer (51 not out off 28) taking them over the line.

KKR will play their fourth IPL final in Chennai on Sunday.

SRH, who had pipped Rajasthan Royals on the final day of the league stage to finish second in the points table, will now proceed to Chennai to have another crack at making the summit clash with the Qualifier 2 to be played on May 24.

The Pat Cummins-led side will face the winner of the Eliminator between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bengaluru here on Wednesday.

In his first game this season, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (23) played his role to perfection with two crucial grabs behind the wicket and a quickfire 14-ball 23 at the top laced with two sixes and as many fours.

Chasing a below-par target, KKR raised their fifty in no time.

Sunil Narine (21) perished shortly after the powerplay which brought the pair of Shreyas and Venkatesh together. They put on 97 runs for the third wicket to complete a comprehensive victory.

Shreyas also had luck on his side as a paddle sweep off Viyaskanth Vijaykanth ricocheted off SRH keeper Heinrich Klaasen who went for the catch in the 10th over.

But with short midwicket fielder Rahul Tripathi running in hard for it as well, Klaasen could not hold onto the ball despite having it in his grasp while nearly avoiding a collision.

Soon after, the day went from bad to worse for SRH and Head who spilled a regulation catch off T Natarajan in the 11th over which gave the KKR skipper another lifeline.

If Shreyas was content nurdling the ball around while putting the odd ball away for boundaries, Venkatesh outmatched his skipper with a rapid half-century which was completed off 28 balls.

However, Shreyas overtook his younger partner to wrap up the game with a flurry of boundaries. Venkatesh, on his part, remained unbeaten on 51 off 28 balls with four sixes and five fours.

Earlier, the lanky Australian speedster Starc reaped benefits of utilising his core skill of bowling quick and swinging the ball. He rattled the stumps of SRH marauder Head on the second ball of the contest to set the tone in KKR’s favour.

IPL’s third highest run-getter Head was all over the place when he went for a wild heave against his compatriot, who got the ball nipping slightly away after pitching and knocking down the off and middle stumps to dismiss the batter for his second consecutive duck.

Starc also bounced out Nitish Reddy (9) and had Shahbaz Ahmed (0) chopping one onto his wickets to put KKR in firm control inside the powerplay.

With Head removed from the equation early, SRH pinned their hopes on Abhishek Sharma but the left-hander too was confined to having an unsuccessful outing.

Abhishek, who has immaculately picked gaps and unleashed spectacular shots more often than not this season, played one meekly towards cover where Andre Russell timed his leap to perfection and used both his hands to complete the dismissal, off Vaibhav Arora. 

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