Delhi Serve Late Challenge But KKR Cross Finish Line, Enter IPL 2021 Final
KKR will now face Chennai Super Kings in the 2021 IPL final on Friday.
Kolkata Knight Riders beat Delhi Capitals by 3 wickets to enter the IPL 2021 final.
Delhi Capitals: 135-5 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 36, Shreyas Iyer 30*; Varun Chakaravarthy (2/26)
Kolkata Knight Riders (Venkatesh Iyer 55, Shubman Gill 46; Kagiso Rabada 2/23)
Another Venkatesh Iyer half century ended in yet another Kolkata Knight Riders victory as Eoin Morgan's side have pulled off a complete IPL 2021 turnaround, going from second last in the standings at the end of the India leg, to confirming a spot in the season finale.
However, the victory on Wednesday night in Sharjah was no smooth sailing for the men in purple who were cruising towards the 136-run target, needing 23 runs off the 30 balls before Delhi made a big comeback into the match.
Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan fell in each of the next four overs as the run-scoring took a major nose dive and Pant's bowlers gave the team a glimmer of hope.
7 runs were needed from the last 6 balls bowled by R Ashwin and there was more drama in store as Shakib al Hasan fell on the third ball and Sunil Narine on the fourth.
Then, six runs were needed off the last two deliveries but Rahul Tripathi required just one - smashing the ball down the ground to have the purple dugout break out in celebration.
A three wicket win for KKR who will now play MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings for the trophy on Friday night in Dubai.
Delhi Were Restricted to 135/5
Earlier in the day, Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to put Delhi into bat first on the Sharjah pitch.
Openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan gave Delhi a solid start, scoring 32/0 in 4 overs. However, Kolkata bounced back with the wicket of Shaw (18), who was dismissed by Varun. The mystery spinner started his over with the googly and straightaway trapped Shaw in front of the stumps.
After Prithvi's wicket, Dhawan and Marcus Stoinis joined forces and looked to maintain the run-flow but KKR bowlers didn't allow them to score freely by bowling hard length deliveries. As a result, Delhi were 65/1 at the halfway mark of the innings.
The pressure was building on Stoinis, who was promoted in the batting order despite coming from an injury.
In order to score freely, the all-rounder gave himself room to hit one through the off side but missed a quick and cross-seamed delivery, which crashed into the stumps.
He (18) and Dhawan added 39 runs for the second wicket before he walked back to the dressing room.
From thereon, Kolkata continued to strangle the batters further and Delhi kept on losing wickets at regular intervals.
Dhawan, who scored 36 off 39, was the first to go. He charged down the track, trying to slam Chakaravarthy's delivery straight down the ground but the ball took the outside edge and Shakib did well to cover ground quickly and took a diving catch.
DC skipper Pant came to bat next and started his innings with a boundary but he couldn't carry his knock longer and got out to Lockie Ferguson, leaving DC in trouble at 90/4 after 15.2 overs.
After losing the wickets of Dhawan and Pant in quick succession, Delhi were in deep trouble and Shreyas Iyer and Shimron Hetmyer had the responsibility to bring their team back in the game.
Hetmyer survived a close call on 3 as he was caught brilliantly by Shubman Gill at long on off a Varun Chakravarthy delivery but it was called a no ball by the TV umpire. After getting the lifeline, the Windies cricketer hit a couple of sixes in the 18th over bowled by Ferguson.
However, in the next over, Hetmyer (17) got run out. Iyer wanted to squeeze out a run but Venkatesh Iyer did well to throw the ball back in time to Dinesh Karthik and Hetmyer was well short of the crease.
In the end, Shreyas Iyer hit a six and four in the last over of the innings and took Delhi Capitals to 135/5.
Chasing a total of 136 runs for victory, openers Iyer and Shubman Gill gave Kolkata a solid start. The duo mixed caution with aggression and took KKR to 51/0 after 6 overs. Even after the powerplay, both the openers continued in the same vein, taking KKR to 76/0 in 10 overs.
Kagiso Rabada, finally gave Capitals a breakthrough as he dismissed Iyer. The youngster played a quickfire knock of 55 runs in 41 balls and stitched a 96-run opening stand with Gill. After Iyer's wicket, Nitish Rana joined Shubman Gill in the middle but Rana couldn't do much and got out to Anrich Nortje after scoring 13 runs. In the next over, Gill also got out and things took a dramatic turn as KKR collapsed from 125/2 to 130/7.
However, Rahul Tripathi held his nerve to hit a sixer off the penultimate ball and finished the game for KKR.
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