Suryakumar cameo pushes KKR to semi-finals
Kolkata Knight Riders 153 for 7 (Suryakumar 43*, Arafat 3-39) beat Perth Scorchers 151 for 7 (Voges 71*, Narine 4-31, Kuldeep 3-24) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kolkata Knight Riders have developed a knack of pulling off the clinical and the haphazard on the same night. Led by Sunil Narine, their spinners were un-hittable. Perth Scorchers realised that after much huffing and puffing that amounted to only 151 for 7. The Knight Riders batsmen though were lackadaisical and Scorchers' seamers rode on that, until they met Suryakumar Yadav. His twin sixes in the 19th over killed the contest and sealed Knight Riders' progress into the Champions League T20 semi-finals.
Kuldeep Yadav, the 19-year old left-arm chinaman bowler, and Narine would have been in the dugout wondering if the clincher would be their batting and not them snaring all seven of the opposition's wickets to fall, at 6.88 to the over. Scorchers' captain Adam Voges had highlighted the need to collect singles against mystery bowlers, but only he managed to stick to the plan. While the rest of the line-up swished and swashed across the line, he accumulated an unbeaten 71 off 52 balls that looked surprisingly close to match-winning until the final few minutes of the game.
Two sixes in the 15th over sparked Suryakumar's innings off and two similar blows crowned a 19-ball 43. So Knight Riders pushed their winning streak to 12 matches despite losing regular wickets and finding themselves at 87 for 5. Gautam Gambhir, their captain, too found an explanation hard to come by for their victorious run. "I don't know, the only thing I can think of was the hunger in the dressing room."
While that hunger forced their batsmen to search for too much too quickly - Gambhir sliced to point, Robin Uthappa top-edged a pull off a bouncer that had him cramped up, Kallis flicked a poor ball off his pads into the hands of short fine leg and Manish Pandey sought to dab a yorker to third man to terrible effect - the Knight Riders bowlers found excellent use for it.
Scorchers were struggling to pick Kuldeep's googlies and Narine's carrom balls. The overs were piling up and instinct forced them to slog across the line. Mitchell Marsh was comfortably stumped, Sam Whiteman was caught in the deep after a flurry, Nathan Coulter-Nile wound up off his first ball to present a top-edge to Kuldeep and Ashton Agar played all around a straighter ball from Narine. Ashton Turner provided a repeat of that dismissal. Scorchers fumbled from a promising 120 for 2 to 132 for 6 in three overs.
But Voges fought on using the depth of the crease quite well. From that perch he was able to get better mileage on pulls. When he left the crease he was conscious of hitting straight. But he was the only batsman who looked in any kind of control. Gambhir could sense that tension and flooded the innings with spin. Narine took over in the death and for a second match in succession was on a hat-trick. It was one-way traffic, as Narine collected a ninth four-wicket haul in T20s, the most by any bowler.
A similar narrative worked for Scorchers, but it was the seamers that posed their threat. They claimed early wickets, allowed no partnership to reach the 40s and were resilient in the field. Even in the dying stages of the match Yasir Arafat produced a beautiful slower ball to wreck Andre Russell's stumps, but five runs to defend in the final over was too tall a task.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo