IPL 2021: KKR defeated DC to enter the final. Face Dhoni and CSK the yellow army.
A sensational fightback from Delhi Capitals (DC) bowlers was not enough to prevent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) from booking their place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 final.
Chasing 136 for victory, KKR were cruising at 123 for 1 in the 16th over. However, a flurry of wickets saw them crumble to 130 for 7 in no time. But with six needed off two balls, Rahul Tripathi clattered a length ball from Ravichandran Ashwin over the bowler’s head for a maximum to sink DC.
Earlier, after KKR’s bowlers restricted DC to 135 for 5 in Qualifier 2, Venkatesh Iyer (55) and Shubman (46) added 96 for the opening wicket to make the chase a breeze before the batting collapse. KKR eased their way to 51 for no loss at the end of the powerplay. The first ball of the innings by Nortje was crunched through the covers by Gill for a boundary. Iyer then hit sixes in two consecutive overs from Axar Patel and Kagiso Rabada.
After a couple of quiet overs, Iyer clobbered Axar for another maximum over deep midwicket, as KKR were in complete command at 76 for no loss at the halfway stage. Iyer soon reached his third fifty of the season off 38 balls by dabbing Axar to short third man. The KKR’s opener’s wonderful innings came to an end on 55 as he slammed Rabada straight to deep square leg.
Iyer wasn't a starter when IPL 2021 kicked off in India. In fact, he didn't get a single game back home. But after coming to the UAE, he has scored 320 runs at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 125; only Ruturaj Gaikwad (407) has scored more runs in this period. Iyer is also the only one to have scored a half-century at all three venues - Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi - in the UAE.
KKR were in dire straits at the start of the UAE leg of the current edition of the Indian Premier League, having registered just two wins in the seven matches they had played in India. However, they staged a grand comeback to make the playoffs and then stunned the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and the Delhi Capitals (DC) to earn the right to face the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the title decider.
Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Eoin Morgan said:
"It should've been a lot easier after the start we got, Venky and Gill set us the platform. Dew came in and all, but hey, we're in the final and we're delighted to get over the line. Would've loved to win convincingly but Capitals are a very good side."
"We would like to keep going. Playing against CSK, one of the best franchises in IPL history. Anything can happen."
On Friday, CSK’s chances of winning a fourth title will depend on how well they handle the 12 overs from KKR’s spin trio of Varun Chakravarthy (economy rate 6.40), Shakib Al Hasan (ER:6.64) and Sunil Narine (ER:6.44), who have been outstanding in this tournament.
No one knows the drifts and patterns of IPL more than India’s most revered white-ball captain. He understands that for IPL consistency, one needs experienced players primarily along with one or two talented youngsters.
Dhoni’s captaincy mantra is simple — rely on experience as IPL is not a finishing school or place to groom youngsters however talented they may be. He groomed Ruturaj Gaikwad when the pressure of qualification was off his back in 2020 and the Pune lad has played freely.
He has scored three half centuries and with his rise, Dhoni laid the groundwork for not just next year but many more to come fr his franchise.
The Knight Riders, on the other hand, also have a captain who has won a World Cup and has been at the heart of England team’s transformation as white ball captain
But it’s the leadership that has stood the test of time as he has marshalled his available resources well. He stuck with Shubman Gill as an opener and the youngster has had a decent run. The faith shown in Venkatesh Iyer will also benefit the Indian white-ball team while Narine the bowler found his mojo under him with constant support after remodelled action.
Morgan is as quiet and as unexpressive as Dhoni even in testing times and it would be a contest of two ticking brains trying to gauge the next move in what promises to be a mouth-watering three-hour battle.
Probable Playing XIs
Chennai Super Kings
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo, Josh Hazlewood
Kolkata Knight Riders
Venkatesh Iyer, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Dinesh Karthik, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Dubai International Stadium on 15 October 2021, 07:30 PM (IST).