The Kolkata Knight Riders secured their berth to compete in the Oppo CLT20 2014 Final after they defeated the Hobart Hurricanes by seven wickets in the first semi-final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. After the team for Australia opted to bat first and set them a target of 141, the IPL champions rode on Jacques Kallis’ half-century and his partnership with Manish Pandey to coast to a victory in the final over. The seven-wicket victory stretched KKR’s tally of consecutive wins to 14. (Also Read: QUICK STATS: SF1 - KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS V HOBART HURRICANES)
Needing to score at just over seven runs an over at the start of the innings, KKR got off to a flying start when Robin Uthappa picked up boundaries of the second and third deliveries of the chase. The Australians pulled things back, not offering too much of room in the next couple of overs, especially to the left-handed Gautam Gambhir. The KKR captain after managing just two scoring strokes in ten deliveries, pounced on a leg-stump half-volley from Bollinger, but flicked it straight to the man at short midwicket.
Jacques Kallis began aggressively, hitting three deliveries in his first ten deliveries, even as Robin continued to impress with his shot selection. The 22-run stand was separated when Robin (17) came down the track and attempted to his Xavier Doherty inside-out, but missed the line altogether and had his stumps broken.
Manish Pandey, who has a history of performing in big-matches, joined Kallis in the middle, and the pair consolidated their team’s position with a 63-run partnership. While Manish, who was lucky on one occasion, was his usual flamboyant self and played his shots freely, Kallis rotated the strike to give his more aggressive partner more of the strike. Their association ended, when in the sixteenth over, Manish attempted to go over the top but holed out to the man patrolling the long-on fence. He made 40 from 32 balls, and hit six boundaries and a six.
The South African all-rounder consumed 40 deliveries and hit four boundaries and two sixes, but critically remained unbeaten on 54 and took his team past the finish line. Yusuf Pathan (14) gave him company on the walk back to a happy dressing room.
For the Hurricanes, Bollinger, Doherty (who was the stand-in skipper for the match) and Ben Laughlin were the wicket-takers. The outcome of the match could have been different had the Hurricanes scored 10-15 runs more and if they capitalized on the run-out opportunities that were presented to them. Even the winning hit by Kallis was a chance – the ball slipped through the hands of Ben Hilfenhaus at square-leg.
The match was meant to be a trial of spin for the team from Down Under. And it turned out just that way, for the Knight Riders bowled 16 overs of spin out of a total of twenty overs. After Yusuf Pathan started proceedings, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla worked their magic to force a stranglehold over the Hurricanes batsmen. Ben Dunk was the only batsman in the top order to get a hang of the spinners and the surface; he began cautiously but showed first signs of intent when he hitting Yusuf Pathan for a six in the third over.
After the Hurricanes had crawled to 16 from four overs, Andre Russell was introduced into the attack and the 27-year old Dunk feasted on the ball coming on quicker by picking up three boundaries. He found an able ally in Shoaib Malik, who walked out to bat at the fall of the second wicket.
Dunk had made 39 from 28 balls, and dominated the 33-run stand with Malik, when he cut a short delivery from Kuldeep Yadav but hit it straight to Gautam Gambhir at point.
If the Hurricanes ended up with a respectable total, a lot of the credit should go to the way the 32-year old Malik batted. He was circumspect to begin with, but showed a lot of composure despite the bowlers having an upper hand for most part of the innings. He showed good application, staying on the backfoot and playing the spinners late, or when he decided to step out, he gave it the full monty. The Pakistan batsman hadn’t scored a boundary until he had faced 19 balls – at which point he deposited a Piyush Chawla delivery into the stands. He consolidated further before choosing the moment to impose himself; in the nineteenth over, he got stuck into young Kuldeep Yadav and milked him for 21 runs – hitting two sixes and two boundaries. He ensured the team finished on a high, flat-batting the final delivery of the innings straight over the bowler’s head for a boundary. He remained unbeaten on 66, scored off 46 balls, and decorated with four boundaries and as many sixes.
From 54 for three at the half-way stage, the Hurricanes had done well to get to 140 for 6; there were only four overs in the Hurricanes innings where 10 runs or more were added to the scoreboard. All the five KKR bowlers who bowled in the evening were among the wickets; while Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine got away with an economy rate of six, the chinaman bowler Kuleep Yadav and Piyush Chawla came in for some stick.
Kolkata Knight Riders win by 7 wickets
Brief Scores: Hobart Hurricanes 140-6 in 20.0 Overs (Ben Dunk 39, Shoaib Malik 66*) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 141-3 in 19.1 Overs (Jacques Kallis 54*, Manish Pandey 40)
Man of the Match: Jacques Kallis, for his unbeaten 54 from 40 balls.
Gambhir: "I thought it was a professional performance. I think we planned the chase pretty well. The experience of Jacques was crucial. I think Russell was unbelievable opening the ball. I know I need to contribute with the bat. We've been playing some good cricket this tournament, and hopefully we can perform well in the Final."
Doherty: "I'd say it's a combination of not enough runs on the board and not enough wickets. It was a pretty good effort by our boys, and we nearly got there. The spinners did the damage, but Shoaib held us together, and we were probably 15 runs short. It was a pretty good effort from us this tournament."