Pune: First a late surge by Yusuf Pathan (40 not out) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (24 not out) helped Kolkata Knight Riders put a defendable score of 162 runs and later the KKR bowlers (namely Jacques Kallis and Sunil Narine) bowled a fine spell that secured Kolkata their maiden final berth in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final with a convincing 18-run win over Delhi Daredevils in Qualifier-I at the Subrato Roy Sahara stadium here Tuesday.
Yusuf Pathan (40 not out) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (24 not out) put on a stand of 56 runs off 24 balls catapulting the Knight Riders to a score of 162 for four in 20 overs. Pathan was also adjudged as Man of the Match.
Jacques Kallis and Sunil Narine took two wickets each as they helped their team restrict the Daredevils to 144 for eight.
For Daredevils, however, all is not lost as they still have a chance to qualify for the final. In the second qualifier, slated for Friday, Daredevils will face the winner of eliminator between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. The winner of the second qualifier will face Knight Riders in Sunday's grand finale in Chennai.
For Knight Riders it was their third consecutive win and second against Daredevils in the season.
Daredevils had their hopes pinned on a good start by David Warner (7) and Virender Sehwag (10) scoring freely.
However, a poor decision by umpire Billy Doctrove ended the Australian's innings prematurely. Sehwag edged one off the bowling of Lakshmipathy Balaji in the very next ball to give the Knight Riders a double breakthrough.
Naman Ojha (28) and Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene (40) brought the Daredevils back into the chase. The two put on a partnership of 59 runs off 49 balls for the third wicket as Delhi seemed well on their way to chasing down Kolkata's target.
Ojha's wicket brought the run rate down. Venugopal Rao (13)could not get the bowlers away and that piled the pressure on the Sri Lankan at the other end. Jayawardene tried to hit one out of the park but got stumped off the bowling Iqbal Abdulla. After his wicket it was all downhill for the Daredevils.
Delhi management made a blunder by not sending in Ross Taylor up the order as Pawan Negi (14) and Rao failed to close in on Kolkata's score. Taylor (11) was left with too much to do in the need and West Indian spinner Narine wrapped the match for Kolkata by taking two wickets of successive balls in the final over.
Earlier, electing to bat, skipper Gautam Gambhir yet again gave his team a flying start scoring 32 off 16 balls. Gambhir and Brend on McCullum (31) put on 48 runs for the first wicket before the former got run outin a mix up between the two.
The left-hander's wicket led to a dip in the scoring rate for the Kolkata. McCullum and Jacques Kallis (33) put on a stand of 39 runs off 41 balls for the second wicket.
The New Zealander trying to up the ante, holed out in the deep off the bowling of spinner Pawan Negi. Former Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan (1) who came in next did not last too long as he edged one to keeper Ojha.
With the score on 106 for four at the end of the 15th over, Kolkata seemed to be in a spot of bother however, Yusuf Pathan, who has been woefully short of form this season, strung a match winning partnership with Laxmi Ratan Shukla (24 not out).
Kolkata scored 63 off the last five overs as they got out of a sticky situation and posted a stiff target.