BENGALURU: Sharjah Cricket Stadium is historically known for its shiny pitches, batting-friendly conditions, and more importantly high-scoring contests with the smaller boundaries assisting the batters.
The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League, more or less, also witnessed the same, but the second leg of this edition in the UAE has been quite different. The slower pitches have made it tricky for the batsmen to score quickly, hence leading to low-scoring contests.
In the all-important Qualifier 2 on Wednesday, Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and had no hesitation in fielding first. It was quite understandable as posting a total has been a challenge and his decision proved right.
After restricting Delhi to 135/5, Kolkata panicked at the end, but finally reached the target with a ball to spare. With this three-wicket win, they have set up a final date with Chennai Super Kings on Friday in Dubai.
What comparatively helped Kolkata’s run chase in the second innings was the presence of dew. It allowed the ball to come onto the bat a tad more than the first 20 overs. However, one needs to give credit to the way Venkatesh Iyer (55) and Shubhman Gill (46) went about their game.
The southpaw continued his rich vein of form, scoring his third half-century in the gulf. More importantly, he played his natural game, and smashed four fours and three. However, after Gill was gone, Kolkata crumbled under pressure. They needed 13 from the last four overs, but they lost wickets in succession at the end.
From 123/2 at the end of the 16 overs, they panicked to 130/7 in 19.4 overs with the pacers, including Avesh Khan, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, making Capitals dream of a final. At the end, Kolkata needed six off the last two balls, and Rahul Tripathi hit R Ashwin for a six to emerge victorious in a nerve-racking finish.
However, the track in the first innings was a tricky one, with the Delhi batsmen never really feeling like they were in even after having spent some time in the middle. Shikhar Dhawan’s 39-ball 36 was an example.
Hence, the first six overs was always going to be important and Morgan was aware of the importance of removing the Delhi openers - Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw - quickly. The latter (18) did look dangerous, but he did not survive for long as he was dismissed by Varun Chakaravarthy (2/26).
Brief scores: Delhi Capitals 135/5 in 20 overs (Dhawan 36, Shreyas 30 n.o) lost to KKR 136/7 in 19.5 overs (Iyer 55, Gill 46)