New Delhi: Two-time champions and pre-match favourites Kolkata Knight Riders slid out of contention at the Eliminator stage of IPL-9, going down to a resolute Sunrisers Hyderabad by 22 runs under lights at the Kotla here on Wednesday.
The Eagles thus go through to what will be a semi-final against the Gujarat Lions here in two days time, the Rajkot-based side having lost in a nail-biter to Royal Challengers Bangalore tn Bengaluru on Tuesday, but getting a second crack at the final in Qualifier 2 by virtue of their top-two finish in the league stage.
KKR were undone by their inability to put together partnerships of significance, and the lack of runs from their frontline batsmen. The two-paced pitch played its part as well in throttling a full-blooded run chase as only skipper Gautam Gambhir (28), Manish Pandey (36) and Suryakumar Yadav (23) putting significant scores on the board.
The Eagles for their part were a compact unit on the field, Purple Cap holder Bhuvaneshwar Kumar leading the way with 3/19, and well backed up by Moises Henriques (2/17), and plenty of smart work in the field.
Yuvraj Singh encapsulated their commitment with a stunning runout that saw off the dangerous Colin Munro, throwing down the stumps with just one stick to aim at. Safe catching in the deep too played its part with as many as five batsmen falling to men on or near the line.
Earlier, for probably the first time in this IPL season, Yuvraj looked the complete package as he led the Sunriders Hyderabad to 162/8. The elegant left-hander walked in with the team struggling at 71/3, and stayed till the score had neared the 150 mark, contributing a composed 44 (30b, 8x4, 1x6). In the process he also crossed the 4,000-run mark in IPL matches, eventually ending with 4,001 when he was bowled with nine balls left in the innings.
Still, the Eagles never really managed to get to grips with the pitch after being asked to take first strike, and for once it was their late middle order that authored a recovery as wickets fell at regular intervals on a cool summer night in the capital. KKR rode the option of first crack with the ball to peg back David Warner and his men but it did not quite work out in the end....