Javinder Singh | cricket20
The Kolkata Knight Riders strengthened their chances of a place in the IPL play offs thanks to a comprehensive 7 wicket victory over a disappointing Pune Warriors at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Mumbai.
The Knight Riders cruised to victory, leaving them two points clear of the Kings XI Punjab who must beat the Deccan Chargers on Saturday afternoon to stay in the hunt for the final place in the play offs.
A defeat for the Kings XI will give the Knight Riders the final spot with a game to spare avoiding a must win game against the Mumbai Indians on Sunday night at Eden Gardens.
Having restricted the Warriors to a total of just 118-7 the Knight Riders cruised to victory with Gautam Gambhir (53) and Yusuf Pathan (29) leading the way during a 3rd wicket stand of 64.
Despite losing Pathan at the end of the 16th over with only two more runs needed the Knight Riders sealed victory with 20 balls to spare to improve their run rate to strengthen their hopes of securing a play off spot should they lose their final game.
The manner of victory was so comprehensive they could even afford to lose Shreevats Goswami (6) in the opening over after he was dismissed by Alfonso Thomas who struck with just the 4th delivery of the innings.
Manoj Tiwary enjoyed a cameo of 24 to lay the foundations of a victory which was completed by Gambhir and Pathan in easy fashion.
With nothing to play for in their final home game the Warriors looked like a team ready for the tournament to end after the struggled with the bat against a Knight Riders team still on contention for a place in the play offs.
At no point in the innings were the Warriors allowed to take control the game thanks to impressive bowling performances from Shakib Al Hasan (16-2) Yusuf Pathan (23-2) and Iqbal Al Hasan (12-1).
The trio restricted the Warriors top order by picking up wickets at regular intervals to slow the home sideís innings down on a wicket which favoured the Knight Riders spinners.
Not even the presence of Sourav Ganguly could spark the Warriors into life; the former Knight Riders skipper struggled with the bat once again, scoring 18 runs from 22 balls before he was dismissed by Pathan in the 13th over.
With the exception of one six off the bowling of Iqbal Al Hasan, Ganguly looked like a man who hadnít played competitive cricket in almost a year to highlight why the Knight Riders snubbed in at the player auctions in January.
Yuvraj Singh (24) and Sachin Rana (18), playing in his first game of the tournament, gave the Warriors some hope with a 6th wicket stand of 34 but even this wasnít enough to give the home side the momentum going into the Knight Riders innings.
The Warriors got off to a poor start, losing Jessie Ryder and Manish Pandey inside the first 4 overs to give the Knight Riders the upper hand in a must win game for the visitors
They were helped out initially by Ryder (1) who threw away his wicket after he scoped Yusuf Pathanís 2nd delivery of the match down to Manoj Tiwary at long off who took the simplest of catches.
Pandey (16) quickly followed after he was trapped LBW by Iqbal Abdulla who picked up his 15th wicket of the tournament in the 4th over to leave the Warriors 17-2.
Callum Ferguson (16) and Robin Uthappa (12) quickly followed as the Knight Riders increased the pressure on a Warriors team which had nothing to play for, to leave the visitors facing a run chase of 119.