DUBAI (AFP) – Rahul Tripathi hit a six on the penultimate ball on Wednesday (October 13th) to see the Kolkata Knight Riders win over the Delhi Capitals and advance to the Indian Premier League (IPL) final.
On a night of heartbreak, Delhi topped the eight-team table but failed to reach the final despite a late comeback when they took four wickets from Kolkata in 10 balls, including England captain Eoin Morgan.
As Delhi’s 135-for-five chase grew increasingly desperate, Tripathi hit the ball over the border to lead Kolkata to victory in Sharjah with 135-for-seven and only one to lose.
The Kolkata players were overjoyed.
They were fourth in the standings but still made it to the final after beating Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and now Delhi in the playoffs.
“We’re excited to cross the line,” Morgan said.
“We’re in the entertainment business and needed to play entertaining cricket. Six out of two and you’d say the odds are for bowling. But Tripathi has done it for us so many times.”
Morgan said his team would “dissect” the nervous arrival before facing triple champions Chennai Super Kings in the final on Friday.
“It should have been a lot easier after the start than we had,” he admitted.
Kolkata played brilliantly to narrow Delhi’s normally aggressive hitting roster.
Varun Chakravarty claimed key wickets from forerunners Prithvi Shaw and top scorer Shikhar Dhawan whose 36 of 39 balls gave Delhi hope of scoring a competitive score.
But Chakravarty who allowed only 26 points, his compatriot Lockie Ferguson who also conceded only 26, stifled the Delhi hitters.
Marcus Stoinis hit 18 before being played by Shivam Mari and Shimron Hetmyer made 17 out of 10 balls, including two vigorous sixes, but no one was able to build the big, crucial partnership with Dhawan.
Kolkata looked to be heading for victory when Shubman Gill (46) and Venkatesh Iyer (55) put in 96 for the opening wicket. But after their departure, only Nitish Rana (13) and Tripathi (12) managed to score.
Wicket keeper Dinesh Khartik, Morgan, Bangladeshi star Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine all went for ducks in a dramatic final three times.
Ravichandran Ashwin took two wickets in back-to-back balls in 20th place, but Tripathi hit all six winners on the hat trick ball to secure the victory.
“The team’s victory was very important,” Tripathi said. “We had a tough overs or two and I never thought it would go so deep.”
Delhi captain Rishabh Pant bit back tears after the game.
“I have no words to express at the moment,” he said. “We just kept believing it and tried to stay in the game as long as possible.
“The bowlers almost pulled it out, but it’s a shame it didn’t go our way.
“They played really well in the intermediates, we got stuck and couldn’t get the strike going. The Delhi Capitals are known to be positive and I hope we come back better next season.”
Winning five of their last seven games, Kolkata experienced an extraordinary resurgence in the second half of the IPL – passed to the United Arab Emirates as a precaution against the coronavirus – to reach the final.
Morgan said the victory was “a good taste of our team culture – the youngsters coming in feel free to express themselves” and now there are “expectations” around the team leading up to the final.