When Delhi Daredevils took on Kolkata Knight Riders in the Qualifier in Pune, the difference in the teams' mindset was evident. Delhi stuck to their pace-heavy plan, while Kolkata picked three frontline spinners. And that did make a difference.
Kolkata's batsmen scored heavily off the Delhi pacers to set things up nicely for their bowlers. In the end, they won by 18 runs to enter the final for the first time. (Scorecard)
Kolkata won the toss and batted first, but couldn't really get their scoring rate up despite Gautam Gambhir, the captain, throwing his bat at everything. Gambhir hit three fours and two sixes, but just as he looked like he was on cue for another big innings, Venugopala Rao ran him out with a direct hit. (Related: Stats from the match)
Gambhir scored his 32 at a strike rate of 200, but his opening partner Brendon McCullum and Jacques Kallis failed to come close to matching that. Irfan Pathan bowled his quota for 20 runs and Pawan Negi, the left-arm spinner, bowled his for just 18 to stifle the batsmen. If anything, the Kolkata innings took flight only once the two battle-hardened overseas batsmen fell. (Match pics here)
Yusuf Pathan had largely been quiet throughout IPL V, while Laxmi Ratan Shukla was in and out of the playing XI. On the evening though, the duo were exceptional. When they started out, Kolkata's run rate was 6.62. When the two were done smashing the Delhi pacers around, the run rate had gone up to 8.10. From a seemingly hopeless situation, Kolkata had reached a healthy 162 for four. (Also read: Top 5 reasons for KKR's success)
But no target is big enough if either of the Delhi openers - Virender Sehwag and David Warner - gets going. Kolkata managed to send both back early though. Warner fell first, to a howler from umpire Billy Doctrove, given out caught behind off his pad. Sehwag fell soon after when he edged Lakshmipathy Balaji to McCullum. Delhi were two down for 24. What followed though was a strong fightback from Mahela Jayawardene and Naman Ojha as they stayed abreast of the asking rate. Once the two fell though, things fell apart. ( Suggested read: Target was fine, batsmen failed: Sehwag)
Sunil Narine was expected to be the difference between the two sides if things got too close, but both Kallis and Iqbal Abdullah bowled brilliant spells to make things simple for Kolkata. Kallis returned figures of two for 24 and Abdullah one for 25 as Delhi lost wickets regularly towards the end. Delhi will now wait for the winner of the game between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians for a second chance to reach the final.