Even before Kolkata Knight Riders went into their final league clash of the Champions League T20, they were assured of their spot in the semi-final. Still, KKR would have been keen to extend their winning run, which was 12 prior to the match against Dolphins. Incredibly, they once again found the winning combination, hardly ever looking in trouble except for a few overs at the start of the match. With the win, Kolkata once again reiterated how well-rounded they are as a team, with match winners in both batting and bowling. At present, they seem unstoppable.
The distinctive aspect about Kolkata 's win was that the triumph was achieved by deviating from their usual strengths. Kolkata have won a majority of earlier games by bowling first, and stifling the opponents with some highly accurate bowling, led by Sunil Narine. But, against the Dolphins, they batted first, and yet managed to end up victorious. KKR put up a splendid batting performance, and even bowling second, they were successful in making a significant impact. The victory will give Gautam Gambhir and his men further confidence as they head into the semis, knowing that their game is not one-dimensional.
Kolkata had their moments of troubles early on when they lost skipper Gambhir and Jacques Kallis cheaply. It was a big blow, since both are key batsmen in the side. However, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey batted superbly after that. In the past, Uthappa has been guilty of throwing away his wickets while in form, but in recent games he has stood up and delivered. Against Dolphins, he again proved his worth with some smashing hitting. As for Pandey, he has always had the talent, but has not always rocked. Monday was among the days he did.
Once, Uthappa and Pandey had led Kolkata to an impressive score, they were always favourites to win the match. And, once they claimed some early Dolphins scalps, Kolkata were always going to trouble the batters. Sunil Narine becomes doubly dangerous when the opponent has been put under pressure by the earlier bowlers. And, this was evident against Dolphins as Narine ran through the attack again. Dolphins disappointed since they neither shone with the ball, nor could they make an impression with the bat. The fielding was also below par, giving Kolkata complete control.
--By A Cricket Analyst