Phew!! Two matches in succession, Kolkata Knight Riders had almost made a mess of their chase. After their last two matches, it is certain that Kolkata fans possess the strongest of hearts. Regardless of this twitchiness, they have made it to their third Final of the IPL. The win for Kolkata also ensured Delhi Capitals remained unsuccessful against other teams apart from Sunrisers Hyderabad in the play-offs/finals.
After electing to bowl first, a disciplined bowling performance on a sluggish wicket at Sharjah helped Kolkata restrict the Capitals for 135/5 in their quota of 20 overs. The spinners of Kolkata once again put a stranglehold in the middle overs. The architect this time was Varun Chakravarthy with two very crucial breakthroughs.
In reply, the opening combination of Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer stitched a 96-run partnership to help the side inch closer to the target. However, a flurry of wickets in the death overs resulted in Kolkata slipping from a comfortable position of 125/2 to 130/7. Despite the nerves and the jitters, Rahul Tripathi smashed a massive hit to help the boys in Purple and Gold get over the line and enter the summit clash of the competition. Here are some of the notable stats from the game:
Varun continues his merry way
The 30-year old made his debut in the IPL last season and since then, he has been the pick of the bowlers for the side by providing them with crucial breakthroughs. In a season to forget for Kolkata in IPL 2020, by picking up 17-wickets he was the shining star. In this season, he has taken over from where he had left off last season. With 18 wickets in this edition of the IPL, Chakravarthy recorded the most wickets by an Indian in a single season of the IPL for Kolkata. His 17 wickets last year were the joint-most along with Kuldeep Yadav (2018) and Umesh Yadav (2017).
Dhawan hits his 200th six in T20s
With 587 runs in 16 innings, Dhawan ended IPL 2021 as the leading run scorer for Delhi this season. Also, en route to his innings of 36 from 39 balls, Dhawan smashed his 200th six in T20s. By virtue of it, the 35-year old became only the second Indian player in the history of T20s to score 900 boundaries and 200+ sixes. The skipper of the Indian side, Virat Kohli, is the first person to achieve this rare feat in the shortest format of the game.
Openers set a firm base
Apart from Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine, the other reason behind Kolkata’s turn-around has been the pair of Venkatesh and Gill. Since the shift to UAE, these two have been sensational at the top scoring over 400 runs in nine innings at an average of 46.3 and three 50+ opening partnerships. In today’s match they laid the foundation by hoisting a 96-run opening partnership. This is the highest partnership for Kolkata in this edition of the IPL. In the inaugural match of this season against Hyderabad, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana stitched a 93-run partnership for the second wicket, which was the highest till Qualifier-2.
The dot specialist
With 24 wickets in 16 innings, Avesh Khan was one of the standout bowlers for the Capitals in this edition of the league. The right-arm pacer is second on the list of most wickets in the season behind Harshal Patel's 32 wickets. Defending 136 runs for a place in the final, Avesh finished with 1/22 in his quota of four overs, including nine dot deliveries. In the IPL 2021, the 24-year old has bowled 156 dot balls, which is the highest for a bowler this season. To add more on how good a season this has been for Avesh, only Anrich Nortje (160) in the 2020 edition has bowled more dots in a season in the history of IPL for Delhi.
Venkatesh Iyer's sublime show continues
One of the finds in this edition, Venkatesh has incorporated a fearless brand of cricket and helped Kolkata in reaching the Finals. The southpaw scored a destructive 55 off 41 balls with four boundaries and three sixes to lay a steady platform for the side in this run chase. En route to his scintillating half-century, the 26-year old became the only player in the season to record at least one 50+ score across all three venues of the UAE leg.
The four big fat ducks
The scores of Kolkata batsmen five to eight reads: 0 (3), 0 (3), 0 (2) & 0 (1) and all of these from batsmen who are one of the most experienced ones. Dinesh Karthik, Eoin Morgan, Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine. Thankfully, nothing went wrong in the chase after this dismal show. In the history of IPL, this is the fourth occasion of four Kolkata batsmen suffering ducks in an innings. The last time it happened was also in 2021 against Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai. On an interesting note, apart from this match, other three innings consisting of four ducks have been against Chennai.
Jitters at the end
Despite a 96-run opening partnership that laid a strong foundation in the chase, Kolkata had their heart in their mouth. With 11 runs needed of 20 balls and seven wickets in hand at the wicket of Gill in the 17th over, it was supposed to be a cake walk. But, just like in their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator, they had muddled this up. They lost five wickets for five runs and brought the equation from 11 off 20 to 6 off the last two balls. However, Tripathi at the other end managed to clear the ropes in the penultimate ball of the innings. Only once in their IPL career had they lost five wickets for lesser runs and that came against Rajasthan Royals in 2014, when they were reduced to 122/1 to 123/6, losing five wickets for a solitary run.