The Kolkata Knight Riders extended their winning streak to 12 matches and firmed up their position at the top of the Group A standings after they defeated the Perth Scorchers by three wickets at the Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. Set to chase 152, KKR lost wickets at regular intervals, before Suryakumar Yadav’s astonishing cameo saved them the blushes. (Also Read: QUICK STATS: M10 - KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS V PERTH SCORCHERS)
The run-chase began on a disastrous note when KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir sliced a Joel Paris delivery to the man at point. Kallis departed in the following over when he picked the man at short fineleg. The IPL champions were in a dire situation when Robin Uthappa feathered one from Nathan Coulter-Nile into the wicket-keeper’s gloves. Manish Pandey and Ryan ten Doeschate kept the Scorchers bowlers at bay for a period of five overs, adding 30 runs in the process. Manish (24) had to walk back in the eleventh over when he was yorked by Coulter-Nile, while ten Doeschate holed out to long-on in the fifteenth.
Suryakumar Yadav, who walked out to bat after ten Doeschate was dismissed, announced himself immediately, putting away two of the first three balls he faced into the stands at fineleg. He wasn’t done for the night; with the match hanging in the balance and KKR needing 17 off the final 8 balls, he brought out the lusty blows yet again, hitting Coulter-Nile over the midwicket boundary off the last two balls of the 19th over. Though Andre Russell was dismissed at the start of the final over, the damage had already been done; Suryakumar and Piyush Chawla took the team home with two balls to spare. Suryakumar needed only 19 balls to score his 43 runs, and hit one boundary and four sixes during his stay at the crease.
Yasir Arafat was the most successful bowler for the Scorchers with three wickets, while Nathan Coulter-Nile – who bowled three outstanding overs before a disappointing final over – returned with two wickets. Jason Behrendorff and Joel Paris were the other wicket-takers.
Earlier in the evening, the Perth Scorchers rode on skipper Adam Voges’ unbeaten 71 and a 68-run opening partnership to set the Kolkata Knight Riders a target of 156. The left-handed opener Craig Simmons set the tone for the innings with two boundaries off Yusuf Pathan in the first over. He continued to make merry, scoring boundaries off Jacques Kallis (who replaced Pat Cummins in the KKR XI) and Kuldeep Yadav in the next two overs.
Kallis, who dropped Voges in the second over, suffered further as the Scorchers skipper hit him for two boundaries in the fourth over. The 50 of the partnership came up at the start of the eighth over when an outstretched Suryakumar Yadav couldn’t cling on to a miscued aerial drive from Simmons at the long-on boundary. Later in the same over, the left-hander got one in the middle of his bat and deposited one into the stands at square leg.
In the following over, Simmons walked down the track, but was beaten all ends up by Kuldeep Yadav, and was stumped. He made 39 and dominated the 68-run opening partnership, hitting six fours and a six in his 30-ball outing.
Having separated the openers, who were batting freely, the KKR spinners pulled things back with a couple of quiet overs, and even picked up the wicket of Mitchell Marsh.
Voges brought up his half-century in the 15th over - his first half-century in 32 innings – when he helped a Kallis delivery to the fine-leg boundary. The 34-year old was particularly severe on anything that was pitched short and timed his pull shorts nicely, scoring nearly half his runs in the midwicket region. Despite being the set batsman, he did not get much of the strike in the final five overs of the innings and could only watch as wickets continued to fall at the other end. From 106 for 2 heading into the final five overs, KKR could only add a further 45 runs, losing five wickets in the process. The Scorchers finished their allotted 20 overs at 151 for 7, with Voges unbeaten on 71.
This match was always being pitted as the battle between the Scorchers batsmen and the KKR spinners. And it certainly took shape that way, with KKR using 16 overs of spin in the Scorchers innings. Not surprisingly, Sunil Narine returned the most successful bowler with four wickets (though he came in for some stick on the day). The young Kuldeep Yadav built on his impressive debut the other night to pick up three wickets and took home the Man of the Match award.
Kolkata Knight Riders win by 3 wickets
Brief Scores: Perth Scorchers in Overs (Adam Voges 71*, Craig Simmons 39, Kuldeep Yadav 3-24, Sunil Narine 4-31) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 153-7 in 19.4 Overs (Suryakumar Yadav 43*, Nathan Coulter-Nile 2-41, Yasir Arafat 3-39)
Man of the Match: Kuldeep Yadav, for his bowling figures of 4-0-24-3
Gambhir: "I think the guys have taken a great sense of responsibility. That knock from Suryakumar Yadav was one of the best knocks I've seen from such a young kid. We always felt we needed someone who can compliment Narine, and Kuldeep Yadav does that. I think Yusuf's bowled really well. It might help give him confidence with the bat. We don't talk about the number of wins, we just start every game as a new day, and I hope we can continue with that."
Voges: "It's heartbreaking. A terrific game of cricket, but we've not come out on top this time. That penultimate over, we missed our length. We thought we were in the game at half way. We knew 150 would be competitive, but they bat so deep. This is a terrific experience for these youngsters, and we'll keep on going."