SRH vs KKR, IPL 2024 Qualifier 1: Kolkata cruise to final with 8-wicket win over Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) overpowered Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by eight wickets to book their berth in the final of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 final. The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad witnessed a dominating performance by KKR, whose bowlers did well to restrict a dangerous SRH batting line-up to 159. The KKR batters then sailed through the chase and secured their fourth appearance in the final, their first since 2021.

On the big day, SRH captain Pat Cummins won the toss and chose to bat first. SRH were banking on their aggressive batting line-up that has enthralled audiences throughout the season. The stage was set as Mitchell Starc took the new ball and ran in to bowl to Travis Head. Off the second ball, Starc beat Head and shattered the woodwork. KKR were off to a great start.

The powerplay saw all sorts of drama – as SRH were intent on fighting back and playing their brand of cricket, whereas KKR were attacking for wickets. Through all that, Rahul Tripathi represented hope for SRH – as he continued to fight fire with fire. He was unafraid to take the aerial route, even as KKR added to the pressure. At the other end, SRH lost three more wickets. Abhishek Sharma was caught at cover by Andre Russell off Vaibhav Arora in the second over. Starc returned to inflict a double blow in the fifth over. Nitish Reddy top-edged one and was caught by Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Shahbaz Ahmed, who was sent in at No. 6 ahead of Heinrich Klaasen, chopped one onto his stumps first ball. At 39 for four in five overs, SRH were in deep strife.

Then came a partnership that gave SRH hope. Across the next six overs, Klaasen and Tripathi added 61. When Sunil Narine was brought on for the ninth over, he was carted for 18 – with Klaasen smashing a huge six down the ground. By taking on Narine, SRH wanted to set the tone. Tripathi got to his fifty in the 11th over by reverse-sweeping Chakaravathy for a four. It took him only 29 balls – maintain a good pace under pressure.

However, SRH’s innings wobbled thereafter. Klaasen was caught at deep mid-wicket by Rinku Singh for 32. Abdul Samad walked out with great intent and smashed the first ball he faced for a massive six off Narine. That continued as he hit Narine for another huge six off the first ball of the 14th over. That followed a mix-up with Tripathi, which led to the latter’s run-out. A distraught Tripathi walked back for 55. SRH were at a precarious 121 for six.

In the next few overs, only their captain Pat Cummins showed resistance as he made 30 off 24 balls, and guided the innings past 150 even as wickets continued to tumble. He continued to find the boundaries in the slog overs – even spoiling Starc’s figures when he hit his last two balls for a four and six. Cummins was dismissed in the last over as SRH ended their innings at 159. It was a team effort for KKR but Starc stood out with three for 34 and Chakaravarthy did well with an economical two for 26. Through all that, KKR’s bowlers were backed well by their fielders, who showed great commitment and created opportunities.

KKR’s response started off as if they were chasing a target over 200. There was a change in their line-up as Gurbaz opened the batting with Narine. Gurbaz, playing his first match of the tournament, wasted no time in making an impression. He hit the second ball of the innings for four. When Cummins came on to bowl the second over, Narine welcomed him with two fours, before Gurbaz got a top-edge that flew over third-man for a six. That aggression continued when Bhuvneshwar returned for the third over. T Natarajan was brought in for the fourth over and he gave SRH their first breakthrough as Gurbaz tried going over cover but was caught for 23.

There was no respite for SRH, though, as Venkatesh Iyer walked in with great intent and maintained the tempo of the KKR innings. They got 63 in the powerplay. Narine’s cameo of 21 ended soon after when he holed out to deep square-leg off Cummins.

The Iyers then took over the reins. Shreyas and Venkatesh had the required rate under control, but that didn’t inhibit their instincts. SRH had a tough day on the field – having lost both their reviews early in the innings followed by a couple of dropped catches of Shreyas. For a while, it seemed that Venkatesh was taking the centre-stage by carting sixes a few times, exhibiting great time on hand while clearing the ropes. Shreyas then came into the mould and got boundaries of his own as the innings progressed.

With the target in sight, Venkatesh pulled one over mid-wicket off Nitish for six to bring up his half-century off 28 balls. Shreyas then decided it was time for him too to bring up his milestone. He smashed Head over square-leg for a six, then hit it through wide long-on for four and smashed another six over the leg-side to get his fifty off 23 balls. The KKR captain finished the game with a huge six over long-on and sealed the deal in 13.4 overs. KKR won with 38 balls to spare and eight wickets in hand – which reflects their dominance on the day.

While KKR prepare for the title clash, SRH have another opportunity to get there as they will face off against the winner of the Eliminator between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Rajasthan Royals.

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