All-round KKR storm into IPL playoffs
A fantastic spell of 4 for 30 from Prasidh Krishna, coupled with gritty knocks from Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa helped Kolkata Knight Riders beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 5 wickets and sail through to the playoffs of the Indian Premier League with 16 points in their kitty.
On Saturday (May 19) night, SRH, despite a good start, could post only 172 for 9. The visiting side chased the total down pretty easily, with 2 balls to spare.
Choosing to bat, SRH got off to a strong start, courtesy Shikhar Dhawan and Shreevats Goswami, who racked up an opening stand of 79 runs off 8.3 overs before the latter was caught by Andre Russell off the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav. Goswami scored 35 off 26 balls, his knock including four boundaries and a six.
Once Goswami departed, it was upto the experienced duo of Dhawan and Kane Williamson to take the innings forward, and they did it in style, keeping the scoreboard ticking.
Williamson went on to score 36 off 17 balls, smashing three sixes and a boundary during his stay in the middle. It was Russell once again who caught him out, off the bowling of Javon Searles.
Dhawan, however, kept fighting, getting to his half century before Prasidh trapped him lbw. His knock of 50 was studded with five fours and a hit over the fence.
Though Manish Pandey contributed with 25 off 22 balls, the rest of the middle and lower order failed to make an impact, and some clinical bowling from KKR made sure the hosts were restricted to a modest total.
Prasidh, coming in to bowl the final over with the score on 168 for 5, gave away only 4 runs in the over, and bagged three wickets in form of Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan and Rashid Khan, before the final delivery saw Bhuvneshwar Kumar being run out.
When the chase got underway, KKR's openers, especially Sunil Narine, stepped on the accelerator straightaway. Narine walloped 29 runs off 10 balls with the help of four boundaries and two sixes before holing out to Manish Pandey at long on off the bowling of Shakib.
That brought Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa together, and they continued to chip away at the target with a solid second-wicket partnership. Lynn went on to score 55 off 43 balls, with four fours and three sixes against his name, before being caught near the boundary by Pandey in the 14th over.
At the end of that over, KKR needed 52 runs off 36 balls, and with Uthappa and skipper Dinesh Karthik in the middle, KKR were very much on track for victory.
Uthappa scored 45 off 34 balls (3x4, 2x6), and even though he departed in 17th over, by then, KKR needed 24 off 21 balls.
Though Russell fell without troubling the scorers too much, Karthik made sure there were no further hiccups, comfortably taking their side over the line in the end. Karthik remained unbeaten on 26 off 22 balls.
Three teams - SRH, Chennai Super Kings and KKR - have qualified for the playoffs, leaving the fourth position up for grabs for Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.