Kolkata Knight Riders survived some anxious moments before progressing to IPL-10 Qualifier 2. Set a revised target of 48 in six overs after heavy rain that began in the final over of Sunrisers Hyderabad innings, which was restricted to 128 for seven, KKR reached the target in 5.2 overs for th loss of three wickets with skipper Gautam Gambhir (32 n.o. off 19 balls) shepherding the chase here at the M Chinnaswamy stadium here on Wednesday.

Though KKR needed only eight runs an over, they showed unnecessary hurry and lost three quick wickets for 12 runs in just seven balls. Gambhir, however, brought some sanity with his controlled aggression to see his side through to Friday’s second qualifier where they will clash with Mumbai Indians. 

After a couple of inspections, the chase finally was scheduled for a 12.55 am start with two overs of Powerplay. That the play resumed at all after two heavy spells of rain was all down to the excellent drainage system – Sub-surface Aeration – that was installed at the stadium this year. 

On a sluggish surface, defending champions Sunrisers struggled to impose themselves on Kolkata pacers and spinners who reaped rich rewards for being more disciplined than lethal. 

Pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile, returning after recovering from concussion following a blow on his head off Dan Christian of Pune Supergiant, was the most successful bowler (3/20) while Umesh Yadav was no less impressive with figures of 2/21 including the prized scalps of Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh.

Skipper David Warner (37 off 35, 2x4, 2x6) once again threatened to single-handedly bat KKR out of the game like he had in their last league encounter with a fiery century but fell early that dealt a sort of death blow to their chances. 

The likes of Warner and Kane Williamson upfront and Vijay Shankar in the middle looked to have had the measure of things but failed to build on their starts. It was crucial for at least one of the three batsmen to carry on till the end of the innings given that it was always going to be difficult for a new batsman to tee off from the start on this wicket.

Afternoon showers and an injury to Manish Pandey had forced KKR to tweak their strategy and it all appeared to be working well for them. Fortunes also seemed to favour them when Gambhir called it right and unsurprisingly opted to bowl first with rain-threat hanging over their heads. 

On a slow centre piece like the one on offer on the day, a total of around 150 would have been tough to chase given the bowling riches of SRH but Kolkata bowlers responded well to the challenge and struck regularly. Having sized up the conditions, Warner and Williamson looked well on their way to building a competitive total but fell in the space of three balls after a 50-run stand off 45 balls.

Once the trans-Tasman duo was dismissed, the SRH innings lost its purpose and direction. Only Vijay Shankar, who was coming on the back of an unbeaten half-century against Gujarat Lions, looked like handling the difficult pitch and an accurate bowling attack with some degree of success and the moment he departed, SRH innings was destined to end with a below par score. 

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