Zeenews Sports Bureau
Pune: Both the teams struggled with their batting but Kolkata Knight Riders reigned supreme in the end on Saturday to complete a comfortable 34-run win against Pune Warriors in their final game in this year's Indian Premier League to secure a play-offs berth.
Even though, Kolkata’s trump card Sunil Narine continued his magic with the ball, Shakib Al Hasan emerged as the tormentor in chief. He shone with the ball with a two-wicket haul after contributing to their total with a 30-ball 42. Narine finished with the figures 4-0-15-1 while the Bangladeshi’s figure read 4-0-18-2.
Pune suffered a big blow early in their chase after losing their valuable wicket of Robin Uthappa (8) but Ryder, along with Michael Clarke, steadied the ship. However, that didn’t last long as Kolkatan spinners ran through the host team to hand them their nine consecutive loss in this year's IPL. Yusuf Pathan, who is yet to hit form with the bat this season, did his bit with the ball after his two-wicket haul.
After electing to bat first, Kolkatan openers Gambhir and McCullum found it hard to raise the tempo early on a track that favoured the bowlers. An impressive bowling from the Pune Warriors bowlers, Wayne Parnell in particular, tied down the Kolkatan scoring as they managed only 136/4 after 20 overs.
Nehra opened the attack for Pune, but proved expensive early on, on a slow track. However, Ali Murtaza and Wayne Parnell put a break on the scoring soon with the latter finding a breakthrough by sending off Gambhir in the fifth over. Gambhir failed to get enough elevation and handed Nehra an easy catch at mid on. Parnell finished the over giving away just 1 run and a wicket. Soon, Clarke cleaned up Kallis to put more pressure on the visiting side.
The 67-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan and McCullum for the 3rd wicket was cruicial and ensured their run rate shot up tremendously in the middle stages.
While KKR with 21 points will get a maximum of two matches in the play-offs to qualify, Pune led by Sourav Ganguly hit a new low, losing nine consecutive matches - a record in IPL.