Throughout IPL V, Kolkata Knight Riders kept playing Yusuf Pathan in the hope he would come good some day. For the KKR team management knew all too well that the day the Baroda man fires, he can steal the show. And that patience paid off tonight, Pathan chose one of the biggest games of the event, their qualifier against Delhi Daredevils, to make an impact, which was the decisive factor in the Shah Rukh Khan-owned outfit beating Delhi by 18 runs and making the final here tonight.
With 16 overs gone and 106 runs on the board, KKR looked like struggling to get to even 140. But Yusuf’s 21-ball 40, which included three fours and two sixes, and his 24-ball 56 run unbroken stand with Laxmi Ratan Shukla took them to 162.
Daredevils were hoping their explosive openers would give them a good start, but both David Warner (7) and Virender Sehwag (10) departed early. A questionable decision by umpire Billy Doctrove ended the Australian's innings and Sehwag edged the very next ball off L Balaji to give the Knights a twin breakthrough.
The Daredevils gave it everything they had, but once Mahela Jayawardene was dismissed by Iqbal Abdulla, with Delhi needing 54 runs from 5.3 overs, it was KKR’s match from there.Daredevils were also guilty of making some tactical mistakes.
They went into the game with just one spinner, Pawan Negi, who was their most economical bowler with figures of 4-0-18-1. In contrast, KKR went in with three genuine spinners, and it kept getting tougher to hit the spinners as the game progressed, which has been a regular feature at this ground.
Daredevils’ idea of holding back Ross Taylor till the 17th over, and promoting even Pawan Negi ahead of him, was strange. The Kiwi lasted just eight balls, with required ran rate having gone up above 22 runs per over.
Earlier, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir and Brendon McCullum gave them a terrific start, scoring 48 runs of 5.4 overs, before Gambhir was run out. His dismissal affected the run-rate, as the next five overs produced only 23 runs.
And just when Jacques Kallis and McCullum started to fire, KKR suffered a setback, as the latter and Shakib al Hasan were dismissed in the space of six balls.
KKR were tottering at 106 for four in 16 overs, but Pathan and Shukla made sure they had a defendable total. For Knight Riders it was their third consecutive win and second against Daredevils in the season.
Pathan lifted the gloom by hitting Morne Morkel for a six and pressed the accelerator. He also hit Yadav for a four and was getting good support from Shukla. Both of the them creamed Morkel for 15 runs and Aaron for 21 runs in the last two overs. Pathan hammered Aaron for one six and a couple of boundaries.
Kolkata Knight Riders 162-4 (Y. Pathan 40 not out, G. Gambhir 32, B. McCullum 31, J. Kallis 30, L. Shukla 24 not out) beat Delhi Daredevils 144-8 (M. Jayawardene 40, N. Ojha 28; J. Kallis 2-24, S. Narine 2-24) by 18 runs.