Kolkata qualify alongside Somerset for Champions League
Somerset out-fielded and out-bowled Kolkata Knight Riders to push them to the brink of elimination, but an ice-cool Ryan ten Doeschate hauled them alongside their opponents into the main draw of the Champions League.
Somerset out-fielded and out-bowled Kolkata Knight Riders to push them to the brink of elimination, but an ice-cool Ryan ten Doeschate hauled them alongside their opponents into the main draw of the Champions League. Kolkata needed 153 to qualify after Somerset had waltzed to an imposing 166 for 6 on a track that kept slowing down through the day. At 57 for 4 in the 10th over, they seemed to have lost the final spot to Ruhunu, but ten Doeschate pulled off a special heist to ensure there will be four IPL teams in the main draw.
Ruhunu ended up the biggest losers of the day, and Kolkata celebrated jubilantly despite falling 11 short of victory, but Somerset deserved the most praise. They arrived for the qualifiers bleary-eyed and dispirited, two days after losing their fifth domestic final in two years, and without five of their first-choice players. If they were knackered, they didn't show it: Peter Trego batted with freedom despite not playing an ugly shot, Roelof van der Merwe was typically tigerish with bat and on the field, and the three-pronged spin attack was ruthless to the end.
Kolkata were at the other end of the spectrum, and their struggles were epitomised by the inability of Manoj Tiwary and Shreevats Goswami - batsmen bred on slow tracks - to force the pace against spin. That Kolkata had lost the in-form Manvinder Bisla and captain Jacques Kallis did not help matters, and things became worse when the legspinner Max Waller disloged both Tiwary and Goswami. Thereafter, ten Doeschate owned the night.
He announced himself with a lofted drive that Nick Compton palmed over the ropes at long-off, but that was the closest ten Doeschate came to being dismissed. With the asking-rate hovering out of reach, he dabbed Trego through point before whipping Arul Suppiah over midwicket. Yusuf Pathan was surprisingly subdued in his brief stay, but by the time he exited it was clear that the wicket that mattered was at the other end.
Shakib Al Hasan's stay was ended by a blinder in the outfield from van der Merwe, who single-handedly underlined the difference in fielding standards between the sides. Bhatia then held his nerve in a 30-run stand that took Kolkata close, while ten Doeschate continued to produce the fireworks with an audacious whip over midwicket for his third six. Van der Merwe dismissed both batsmen in the final over, but it wasn't enough to end Kolkata's campaign.
Earlier, Somerset showed they had better methods against spin than their county rivals Leicestershire had displayed earlier in the day. Trego went after Iqbal Abdulla despite not always managing to reach the flight, and his enterprise forced Kallis to rely on seamers more than he would have liked, a move that played into Somerset's hands.
Somerset were 56 for 1 after eight overs, at which point Trego shifted gears against Bhatia's mind-numbingly predictable lack of pace. Trego lost his balance while pulling him for four before cutting late for another boundary. The next over went for 17 as van der Merwe exploded against a raft of long-hops from Yusuf. Jaidev Unadkat gave Kolkata some respite when he got van der Merwe pulling to midwicket, and James Hildredt with a slower ball, but Trego bustled along unfettered, scoring his boundaries with a series of correct strokes. Unadkat was drilled through the covers, Kallis pulled through midwicket, and the Kolkata shoulders began to droop in a hurry.
Trego was starved of strike a touch in the end overs, but it did not seem to matter as Compton ramped Lee for six and stole a couple of inventive boundaries. More importantly for Somerset, Kolkata stayed generous right to the last over, with Unadkat making a hash of a regulation save at midwicket, and Lee getting a wicket of a no-ball. Kolkata's fielders had done themselves no favours, but the itinerary that gave them the chance to play the last innings of the qualifier stage was about to.