The first qualifier of the Indian Premier League 2014 playoffs played on May 28 at the Eden Gardens Kolkata served to dispel a number of myths surrounding both the participants – Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab. For the Kings XI Punjab outfit it was thought that their batsmen are good at chasing while their bowlers leak a lot of runs. For Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunil Narine was thought to be the conqueror of all he saw. Yet after the match came to a close all the heroes fell by the wayside, at least for the time being, as new performers emerged and made the big stage their very own.
Team composition: Kolkata made one change from the team that competed in its last game, bringing in Piyush Chawla instead of Vinay Kumar. Punjab brought in Glenn Maxwell instead of Shaun Marsh.
Batting: Kings XI won the toss and predictably enough opted to field first. Knight Riders ran up a decent score of 163 for 8. Robin Uthappa once again shone the brightest with 42 from 30 balls but lack of sufficient support from others meant that the total could not become a bigger one.
In reply Kings XI folded up for 135 losing an equal number of wickets. Wriddhiman Saha led the riposte with 35 from 31 balls but once again the necessary support was not there and this led them to lose the crunch game.
Bowling: For KXIP, Karanveer Singh picked up the maximum amount of wickets – 3 – but also conceded 40 runs in his spell. Mitchell Johnson bowled well for his 2 for 31 but Akshar Patel was the best bowler yet again with 2 for just 11 runs in his spell. Parvinder Awana (none for 33) and Rishi Dhawan (none for 44) conceded a lot of runs.
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav was the best bowler for KKR with 3 for 13 in his 4 overs. He received some excellent assistance from Morne Morkel who claimed 2 for 23 in his spell. Shakib al Hasan (1 for 43) and Chawla got 1 for 43. Narine, surprisingly, had an off day with none for 30 in 4 overs.
Where do the teams go from here?
Kolkata Knight Riders would be over the moon with how well they played in this game and overcame an opponent that had performed better than itself in the group stages. They have a set team as of now. However, considering the final will be played in Bangalore, where the wickets suit quick bowlers it may not be a bad idea to get Kallis back for this game instead of Ryan ten Doeschate.
Kings XI Punjab would now need to prove itself yet again against the Chennai Super Kings whom they have defeated twice in the tournament so far. However, as had been predicted their dependence on a set formula – 5 bowlers only and dependence on the two Ms to chase down big totals – cost them badly. May be, they need to think outside the box if they are to win against the Chennai Super Kings and make it back to the finals.