Pathan blast crashes Knight Riders’ hope

May 21st, 2008 - 4:53 am ICT by admin  

Kolkata, May 21 (IANS) Yusuf Pathan launced a brilliant counter-attack as Rajasthan Royals scored a thumping six-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders’, dealing a severe blow to their hopes of a semifinal berth in the Indian Premier League here Tuesday night. Set to chase 148, Rajasthan Royals were struggling at 69 for four in 10 overs before Pathan (48 off 18) and Mohammad Kaif (34 off 31) took the game away in a whisker, reaching the target in 16.3 overs.

It is almost the end of the road for Kolkata Knight Riders, who are lagging at the sixth place in the IPL standings. With just two matches to go, the Knight Riders will have to depend on other results while winning their matches convincingly. Rajasthan Royals have already reached the semifinals and maintained their top position in the table with 18 points.

With not a formidable score to defend, Knight Riders needed to strike early and Ishant Sharma provided the breakthrough by removing opener Swapnil Asnodkar, who edged one behind the stumps while trying a wild heave.

Umar Gul (2-30) then struck with two wickets in one over to lead the Knight Riders’ fightback.

Sohail Tanvir, who was sent up the order to attack the bowling, hit one boundary and six off Ajit Agarkar before perishing to Gul trying to clear the in-field. Two balls later Gul got the important wicket of Graeme Smith with wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha taking a sensational one-handed diving catch.

Shane Watson (19) and Kaif then took time to settle down with Gul and Ajit Agrkar bowling a couple of good overs.

Watson, who is the star of most of the Rajasthan Royals victories excelling both with bat and ball, hit one six with a flick of his wrist off Agarkar before perishing in the next over of Sourav Ganguly (1-24). Ganguly celebrated in a frenzy in front of the home crowd and it seemed that Knight Riders were clearly sensing victory.

But Pathan came and tore through the bowling attack like he has done while opening the innings in the tournament. He blasted Ganguly for two successive sixes and carried on with his audacious strokeplay in the next couple of overs.

Had Knight Riders not missed a couple of run out chances, they could have had an interesting end to the match.

Kaif also joined the party with Pathan and they put on 81 runs to see the team through.

Sent into bat, Knight Riders yet again failed to get a decent start. Mohammad Hafeez, who has not done anything noteworthy with the bat, was out in the second over trying to hit a Munaf Patel delivery over mid-on but only could find the man in the circle.

Salman Butt (24 ball off 20) and Ganguly (32 off 34) looked to build a partnership.

Rajasthan Royals four-pronged pace though maintained a disciplined line and gave no room to the batsmen to play their shots. Patel (2-22) and Shoail Tanvir (3-26) were impressive, moving the ball off the seam.

Salman was trapped lbw by Munaf before Yusuf Pathan came up with his fastish off-breaks to crash through David Hussey’s stumps. Debabrata Das (31 off 20) joined Ganguly but the latter soon gave his wicket to Siddharth Trivedi.

Das increased the scoring rate with two sixes, but Laxmi Shukla (15), who had batted well for his team lower down the order, fizzled out after one boundary and a six. Knight Riders lost quick wickets in their desperation to accelerate the scoring.

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