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Qualifier 1: Kolkata Knight Riders (163/8) bt. Kings XI Punjab (135/8) by 28 runs
Kolkata Knight Riders upstaged the table-topping Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday with a comprehensive 28-run victory to book their place in the IPL final.
Punjab’s bowlers were sensational against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday, dismissing the order for 115, so it was no surprise that captain George Bailey elected to field first after winning the toss.
The immediate signs looked as if the decision had paid off, with Mitchell Johnson taking the wicket of Gautam Gambhir for one in the second over, though all that succeeded in doing was kicking KKR into life.
There were several top performers in the Kolkata order, with opener Robin Uthappa stealing the show by knocking 42 from 30 balls with four fours and two sixes.
It was Uthappa’s 10th consecutive 40-plus total—per ESPN Cricinfo—setting the tone for the rest of the order’s performance.
Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav all registered scores in the 20s as the middle-order batsmen overcame tough conditions with some impressive displays of batting.
Their total of 163/8 was very reachable, though, and Punjab would have fancied their chances heading into their innings.
However, what they didn’t bank on was an inspired group of KKR bowlers, who made their ambitions known with Umesh Yadav’s dismissal of Virender Sehwag with the first ball of the second over.
The fast-medium bowler went on to enjoy a fruitful day’s work, taking three important wickets and conceding just 13 runs with Morne Morkel also performing well with the ball.
Manan Vohra showed glimpses of brilliance on the way to his 26, with three sixes, but Morkel made sure he couldn’t have a bigger impact on the game by taking his wicket in the sixth over.
From then on, Punjab capitulated and, despite Wriddhiman Saha’s 35, they could only post 135/8 to send Kolkata into their second final in three years.
However, being the IPL table toppers does have its advantages, and Kings XI could set up a chance at revenge on KKR if they find a way to win Qualifier 2 on Friday, where they’ll face Chennai Super Kings.
Eliminator: Chennai Super Kings (176/3) bt. Mumbai Indians (173/8) by seven wickets
Chennai Super Kings booked their place in Qualifier 2 after an impressive seven-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians, with Kings XI Punjab now the only side standing in their way of a fifth consecutive final.
Having snuck into the IPL playoffs after a disappointing start to the season, Mumbai Indians failed to take full advantage despite a reasonably solid batting performance.
The opening partnership of Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey saw Mumbai chalk up 76 runs until Hussey’s dismissal for 39, with Simmons going on to post 67 from 44 balls.
From then on, the Mumbai order had very few answers to Chennai’s bowlers, with Mohit Sharma taking three wickets with an economy rate of 10.50 as they slowly reached their 173 total.
Speaking before the matchup, the Mumbai hero Tare remarked he was looking forward to a good match against Chennai, as Tau Rizvi of India.com reported:
"Every T20 game is tough game. Every opponent in the IPL is tough team to face. Chennai is no different. They are a great team and I believe it is going to be a good game."
But even he couldn’t produce more magic to revive Mumbai from their slump, falling for a duck to Ashish Nehra’s delivery in the 19th.
It was a different story altogether when Chennai came in to bat, with Mumbai failing to make any kind of impact with the ball. Just three wickets were taken all innings, leaving Suresh Raina to slog the Super Kings to glory with an unbeaten 54 from just 32 balls.
David Hussey and Faf du Plessis were also on form at the crease, posting totals of 35 and 40 not out respectively.
If they continue to bat with such menace in Qualifier 2, then Kings XI Punjab will face a tough task in reaching this year’s final. And with Chennai’s playoff experience guiding them through, another shock could be on the cards for the IPL table toppers.