Kolkata Knight Riders breezed into the final of the Indian Premier League after scoring a thumping 18-run win over Delhi Daredevils in the first qualifier in Pune on Tuesday.
It was an interesting clash between the two IPL heavyweights but Kolkata emerged winner as they bowled with more discipline with each and every bowler taking at least one wicket.
Kolkata Knight Riders recovered from regular blows to post a fighting 162 for four after electing to bat and then stopped Delhi to 144 for eight at Subrata Roy Sahara stadium.
It is for the first time that KKR have made it to the summit clash in five editions of the league so far.
Yusuf Pathan, who was going through a lean patch so far, struck form just at the right time for Kolkata as his uneaten 40 and a crucial 56-run stand with Laxmi Shukla (24 off 11) in just four overs helped his side cross the 150-run mark.
The top three KKR batsmen — Gautam Gambhir (32), Brendon McCullum (31) and Jacques Kallis (30) — batted well but could not convert the starts into big knocks.
Delhi paid the price for not building good partnerships as they lost wickets intermittently. Pressure gradually grew and the lower-order batsmen failed to soak in that.
Mahela Jayawardene top-scored for them with his 40 and for Kolkata Jacques Kallis (2/24) and Sunil Narine (2/24) shared four wickets between them.
Delhi still have a chance to make the final as they will play in the second sualifier on May 25 against the winner of the eliminator match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.
For Delhi it was a forgettable start to the chase with both the openers — Virender Sehwag (7) and David Warner (10) were dismissed within 13 balls.
Warner was bamboozled by a turning ball from Shakib Al Hasan that hit his pads before landing in gloves of McCullum. However umpire Billy Doctrove upheld the appeal.
Sehwag was out next ball when he chased a widish Balaji delivery and just managed an edge into the gloves of McCullum.
Jayawardene (40) and Ojha (29) added 59 for the third wicket to not let Kolkata build on the momentum. The Sri Lankan hit some majestic shots and Ojha too was impressive with his shots.
Rajat Bhatia broke the partnership by having Ojha caught at point and Iqbal Abdulla had Jayawardene stumped as the match again shifted in Kolkata’s over.
Delhi surprisingly kept Ross Taylor behind in the line-up and sent Venugopal Rao ahead of him. Delhi needed 54 off the last five overs and Venugopal did not help their cause by taking 22 balls for his 13.
Taylor struck a towering six off Sunil Narine and now everything depended on him as Delhi required 33 from 12 balls.
However, the Kiwi fell while going for a big shot off Kallis. Negi and Mokel were out in the last over, in which they required 26 runs and it was all over for Delhi in this contest.