It took Kolkata Knight Riders five attempts before they could feature in the final of the Indian Premier League. They are now a win away from shedding their underachievers’ tag. After a hard-fought 18-run win against Delhi Daredevils, Nishad Vellur looks at their 17-match long journey to the final of the fifth edition of IPL.
Apr 5: Lost to Delhi by 8 wickets (with 5 balls remaining)
Kolkata started their campaign against the same opposition but with a different result as they bowed down to the Sehwag-led side by 8 wickets in a rain-affected game shortened to 12 overs per side. Irfan Pathan shone with the bat smashing an unbeaten 42 from 20 deliveries to take Delhi home safe. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 97/9 (12/12 ov); Delhi Daredevils 100/2 (11.1/12 ov).
Apr 8: Lost to Rajasthan by 22 runs
Chasing 164, Knight Riders were dealt an early blow after losing three important wickets (of Kallis, McCullum and Gambhir) in three consecutive balls. They never recovered and were bundled out for 142, 22 short of the target. However, Manoj Tiwary came up with a face-saving innings of 49-ball 59 in the defeat. Score: Rajasthan Royals 164/5 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 142 (20/20 ov).
Apr 10: Beat Bangalore by 42 runs
With captain Gautam Gambhir in good form, Kolkata found their rhythm as they secured their first win of the season beating Royal Challengers Bangalore. After posting an imposing total of 165, Kolkata pacers spearheaded by L Balaji tied down the opposition batsmen from making any headway into their chase. Balaji’s spell of 4-18 was phenomenal in their 42-run victory. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 165/8 (20/20 ov); Royal Challengers Bangalore 123/9 (20/20 ov).
Apr 13: Beat Rajasthan by 5 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)
It was payback time at Eden Gardens after their loss in their previous encounter; this time they completed a five wicket victory against Rajasthan. Veteran Kallis top scored with 31 runs but Shakib’s match-winning spell of 3-17 made things easier for Kolkata in a low-scoring affair at a turning Eden track. By then, they sealed their second straight win after four matches in the season. Score: Rajasthan Royals 131/5 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 137/5 (19.2/20 ov).
Apr 15: Lost to Punjab by 2 runs
Sunil Narine’s dumbfounding five-for all but went in vain at Edens as Punjab snatched a thrilling 2-run win from the jaws of defeat, thanks to Chawla’s magic spell of 3-18. Kolkata were well placed in their chase at 79/3 after 12 overs but Chawla’s triple strikes turned the match in their favour. Score: Kings XI Punjab 134/9 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 132/7 (20/20 ov).
Apr 18: Beat Punjab by 8 wickets (with 21 balls remaining)
Gambhir once again led from the front to outplay Punjab in the return leg and made sure they didn’t mess up their chase this time round. With a target as low as 124, Kolkata romped home with ease in a heavily one-sided game in which Gambhir stayed unbeaten on 66. Score: Kings XI Punjab 124/7 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 127/2 (16.3/20 ov).
Apr 22: Beat Deccan Chargers by 5 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)
Chargers fought hard to defend a low total, but Kolkata held their nerves to emerge victorious in the end, their fourth win. Dhawan’s run-a-ball 50 was the only highlight in their innings where they limped to 126 for 7 after 20 overs. In return, Kolkata reached the target with six balls to spare. Score: Deccan Chargers 126/7 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 127/5 (19/20 ov).
Apr 24: Kolkata v Deccan: Match abandoned without a ball bowled
Apr 28: Beat Bangalore by 47 runs
Riding on Gambhir’s 93, Kolkata amassed a huge total at home, which their star batsman Gayle (86) couldn’t chase down even after staying on the crease until the last over. Gambhir and McCullum stitched together 95 runs for the first wicket stand, which was followed by an 80-run partnership between Gambhir and Kallis for the second wicket. Kolkatan bowlers` attempt to successfully keep Gayle out of the strike paid dividends for the hosts. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 190/4 (20/20 ov); Royal Challengers Bangalore 143/6 (20/20 ov).
Apr 30: Beat Chennai by 5 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)
In the current IPL edition, Kolkata’s success is directly proportional to Gambhir’s form. The Delhi lad continued his impressive run with the bat, so were KKR. Chennai sweat hard to reach a total of 139 for 5 on a slow track at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Main contributors were Suresh Raina (44) and captain MS Dhoni (34*). However, Gambhir showed his prowess with the bat once again to propel the team to a 5-wicket win. A small but important role from Debabrata Das (4-ball 11) in the end prompted Gauti to hand over his Man-of-the-Match award to Das. Score: Chennai Super Kings 139/5 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 140/5 (19.4/20 ov).
May 5: Beat Pune by 7 runs
At one point the hosts looked well set for a huge total after reaching 111 without loss after 12 overs. The openers’ departure affected the scoring rate. However, Warriors failed to chase down the target of 150 much to the disappointment of their captain Sourav Ganguly. A victory would have been a source of joy for the Bengal Tiger considering his troubled past with the Kolkata Knight Riders. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 150/5 (20/20 ov); Pune Warriors 143/8 (20/20 ov).
May 7: Beat Delhi Daredevils by 6 wickets (with 8 balls remaining)
After choosing to bat first, Delhi set Kolkata a target of 154. In return, capitalising on the strong foundation laid by the openers, Kolkata eased to a 6-wicket victory to displace Delhi from the top of the table at Feroz Shah Kotla. Score: Delhi Daredevils 153/9 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 154/4 (18.4/20 ov).
May 12: Lost to Mumbai Indians by 27 runs
Rohit Sharma ended Kolkata’s unbeaten run of six games smashing a 60-ball 109. Herschelle Gibbs, playing for the first time this season, contributed to the 167-run partnership with a fluent 66. A total of 182 was beyond the reach of Kolkata, who had to end their chase at 155/4 after the allotted 20 overs. The consistent Knight Riders’ bowlers really took a beating and they managed only Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket throughout the innings. Score: Mumbai Indians 182/1 (20/20 ov); Kolkata Knight Riders 155/4 (20/20 ov).
May 14: Lost to Chennai Super Kings by 5 wickets
Chennai Super Kings continued their unpredictable nature as they snatched a surprising 5-wicket win chasing Kolkata’s 158. Bravo’s last-ball heroics pushed Super Kings to No. 4 in the standings. Both the teams started their innings in a similar fashion. First, Gambhir and McCullum gave them a rollicking start but after losing the openers, the run rate dipped only to end the innings at 158. Similarly, Hussey and Vijay got off to a flier, but the mystery man Sunil Narine struck again and removed both. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 158/6 (20/20 ov); Chennai Super Kings 160/5 (20/20 ov).
May 16: Beat Mumbai Indians by 32 runs
Mumbai captain Harbhajan, who fielded a pace-heavy side, was clueless as to what to expect from the Wankhede pitch and decided to have a bowl. Knight Riders struggled to post 140 on board, which in turn proved to be a good total. Gambhir made the most out of his spin trio - Narine, Shakib and Abdulla – to bundle out Mumbai with 108. Mumbai batsmen, including Sachin, just couldn’t tackle the West Indian Narine who finished with figures 4-15. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 140/7 (20/20 ov); Mumbai Indians 108 (19.1/20 ov).
May 19: Beat Pune by 34 runs
Knight Riders inflicted upon Warriors their ninth consecutive defeat and set up a qualifier match against Delhi after their 34-run win against Pune in their last league game. A total of 136 runs proved to be decent enough as an all-round performance from Shakib Al Hasan caused severe damage to Pune’s chase. Shakib scored a quickfire 42 in their innings and later followed it up with a two wicket haul. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 136/4 (20/20 ov); Pune Warriors 102/8 (20/20 ov).
May 22: Qualifier: Beat Delhi Daredevils by 18 runs
When a few tactical moves made by Delhi skipper Sehwag failed, the ones made by Gambhir went in KKR’s favour and eventually booked the final berth in the IPL for the first time. Also, the match marked as the one in which Yusuf Pathan woke from his slumber finally to smash 40 off just 21 balls. He, along with Laxmi Ratan Shukla, gave the late boost to help Knight Riders go past 160. Score: Kolkata Knight Riders 162/4 (20/20 ov); Delhi Daredevils 144/8 (20/20 ov).