Yusuf hammers last nail in Knight Riders~~ coffin

Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Kolkata: Yusuf Pathan stroked an incredible 18-ball 48* and Mohd Kaif carved a rock solid 34 off 31 balls as Rajasthan Royals decimated Kolkata Knight Riders by six wickets in their IPL tie at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.

Royals chasing 148-run victory target were reduced to 69/4 in 10th over before Pathan (Sr) and Kaif forged a rapidfire 81-run stand in just seven overs to ensure their side home and hammer the last nail in the Kolkata's coffin.


Savage Yusuf reduced Kolkata's slender hope for a semis' berth to ashes. The Baroda all-rounder clobbered five boundaries and three sixes while Kaif's sedate innings includes four hits to fence.

Kolkata setting a competitive 148-run target went all out with Umar Gul spewing venom in his first spell sending his fellow countryman Sohail Tanvir and the dangerous Graeme Smith (24 off 24) in a span of three balls to reduce Jaipur side to 43/3 in the sixth over.

Riders spurred by Gul's inspiring spell struck three overs later when Ganguly castled Watson (19 off 15).

In came Yusuf and out he went ball after ball. He had a slice of luck in the early part of his innings when umpire Jerling turned down a good-looking LBW appeal from Gul and several of his 'French cuts' missed stumps by whisker. He found his groove after these early hiccups. From then on no looking back for this Baroda batter - one of the clean hitters of the cricket ball around.

This win ensured Royals (18 pts off 8 wins in 11 matches) retain the top spot in the IPL points chart. Kolkata outfit, which suffered fourth consecutive defeat, stayed put on sixth place with 10 pts from 12 matches.

Earlier the probing Munaf (2/22) and the skiddy Tanvir (3/26) limited Kolkata to 147/8. Skipper Warne marshelled his inexperienced bowling exceptionally well. He bowled his seamers up front in short spells and outguessed batsmen with smart field settings. What a captain he is turning out. How come Australia failed to notice his captaincy skills.

Warne invited Riders to take guard first and his decision paid dividends as seamer Munaf bowled a wicket maiden snaring Hafeez in his first over. He returned to bowl in the sixth over and packed off Butt (24 off 20). The change bowler Pathan dismissed David

Hussey cheaply to leave Kolkata in a spot of bother at 71/3 in the 12th over.

Ganguly dug in for some time and provided a semblance of respectability to Riders' total with 34-ball 32. Young Debabrata Das made a strokeful 31 in 20 balls inclusive of two sixes and a boundary. Tanvir, who returned to complete his quota in the 18th over, put stumbling blocks on run rate plucking the wickets of Das and Shukla (15 off 10). Saha played cross batted slogs to collect some useful runs in the death overs.


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