Yusuf Pathan on the rampage

Yusuf Pathan and Mohammad Kaif added 81 off 40 balls for the fifth wicket.-PTI

Yusuf Pathan’s amazing strokeplay turned the match in favour of Rajasthan Royals, writes S. Sabanayakan.

The DLF Indian Premier League competition between inform Rajasthan Royals and a struggling Kolkata Knight Riders went on the predictable lines. The six-wicket victory took Royals to the semifinals.

The man who hogged the limelight was Yusuf Pathan. His amazing strokeplay turned the match in favour of his team after Knight Riders, asked to bat first, made 148. Royals reached 150 for four with 3.3 overs to spare.

Pathan and his senior partner Mohammad Kaif went hammer and tongs to build a tournament record partnership for the fifth wicket — an unbroken 81 off 40 balls.

Man of the Match Pathan, who holds the T20 record for quickest 50 (21 balls), was on the verge of breaking it as well. His 42 off 18 balls with five fours and three huge sixes combined with Kaif’s 34 off 31 balls with four fours virtually eliminated the Knight Riders out of the tournament.

After Royals’ opening pair of Graeme Smith and Swapnil Asnodkar was broken early, captain Shane Warne promoted pinch-hitter Sohail Tanveer to No. 3. The move succeeded partially but a brilliant burst of seam bowling by Umar Gul, with two dismissals in his first over, brought the Knight Riders back into the game.

Tanveer’s slog was taken by Salman Butt and Smith’s glance was brilliantly picked up by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha down the leg side. Ganguly’s military medium pace consumed Shane Watson as well. Pathan joined Kaif in the middle and then the run riot began.

Earlier, batting blues continued to dog Knight Riders as it lost wickets at regular intervals. A number of small but useful runs propped up the innings. Opener Salman Butt played a cameo 24, Sourav Ganguly came up with 32 and Debabrata Das hit 31. The failure of David Hussey once again left the Knight Riders’ middle-order gasping.

The pressure on the two senior pros in the side, Ganguly and Hussey, was immense. The team heavily depended on the two to get runs. This resulted in both approaching batting with a lot of circumspection, even hampering their natural strokeplay.

Possessing one of the most potent bowling attacks in this tournament, Knight Riders failed to exploit its strong point owing to lack of runs on the board.

The win was Royals’ ninth from 11 matches, giving it a total of 18 points. For the Kolkata side, the reverse was its seventh in 12 games.

The Scores

Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders, Eden Gardens, Kolkata, May 20.

Result: Rajasthan Royals won by six wickets.

Kolkata Knight Riders 147 for eight in 20 overs (S. Butt 24, S. Ganguly 32, D. Das 31, S. Tanveer 3-26, Patel 2-22) lost to Rajasthan Royals 150 for four in 16.3 overs (G. Smith 24, Md. Kaif 34 n.o., Y. Pathan 48 n.o.; U. Gul 2-30).