Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav sizzled with the ball as two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) rode on its spin attack to advance into the play-offs of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a 22-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at the Eden Gardens on 22 May. Yusuf Pathan, earlier, scored 52* for KKR.
Defending 172-run target on a slow and turning Eden Gardens pitch, Narine (3/26) returned with his best figures of the season and was ably supported by left-arm chinaman Yadav (2/28) as Sunrisers could only muster 149 for eight.
Both KKR and SSRH finished their campaign on 16 points from 14 games, which was enough for both the teams to qualify for play-offs.
Brilliant start by SRH
Chasing a stiff 172 for win, Sunrisers started brightly with Shikhar Dhawan (51 off 30 balls) striking his fourth half-century of the season which was studded with four boundaries and three sixes.
Even though Sunrisers skipper David Warner (18) was cleaned up by Narine in the fourth over, Dhawan looked in ominous touch before young Yadav triggered the collapse dismissing the left-handed batsman.
It was a master-stroke from KKR captain Gautam Gambhir to bring the rookie chinaman spinner into the squad in place of Piyush Chawla as Yadav, who was playing his second match after a more than a month's gap, did not disappoint.
Spinners to KKR's rescue
With the asking rate creeping up all the time, a well-set Dhawan departed immediately after completing his fifty while trying to sweep Yadav only to give a simple catch to Colin Munro at deep midwicket.
Four balls later, Naman Ojha (15) perished to Narine but Yuvraj Singh (19) kept Sunrisers in the hunt, smacking Yadav for two successive sixes in the next over.
Left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan (134) then cut short Yuvraj's innings before Deepak Hooda was run out in the next over as Sunrsiers chase fell by thenway side.
Moises Henriques (11) became Narine's third victim when he went through the Australian's defence.
Pathan's third fifty
Earlier, Yusuf Pathan struck his third half-century of the ongoing IPL before some brilliant death bowling by Sunrisers Hyderabad restricted Kolkata Knight Riders to 171 for six.
Continuing his fine form, Pathan remained unbeaten on 52 off 34 balls (3x4s, 2x6s) and got fine support from talented Manish Pandey (48 off 30 balls; 2x4s, 3x6s) as the duo shared 87 runs off 49 balls in an enthralling fourth wicket partnership.
The duo hammered the inexperienced Sunrisers spin attack and at 141 for three, KKR looked on course for a 200-plus total after being put in by David Warner.
Good death bowling
But Sunrisers famed death bowling came to the fore as Bhuveneshwar Kumar (2/31) broke the partnership dismissing Pandey with Kane Williamson taking a splendid diving catch at point.
Young left-arm pacer Barinder Sran (1/31) also gave fine support at the death along with Mustafizur Rahman (1/32) that denied KKR extra 15-20 runs.
The trio bowled 19 dot balls together while Mustafizur was at his tidy best in the penultimate over giving away just three runs that proved to be the difference as KKR could score only 30 runs and lost three wickets in the last five overs.