Kolkata through to final, Punjab must try again

India

Wednesday's Indian Premier League qualifier fixture between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab at Eden Gardens will enjoy a prompt start.

The Kolkata Knight Riders collected an eighth consecutive victory to secure a berth in the Indian Premier League final at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore at the end of this week.

The Kings XI Punjab will have to beat the winner of the so-called Eliminator – the Chennai Super Kings or Mumbai Indians – on Friday, to secure the second spot in Sunday's finale.

The Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad were ruled out of contention at the end of the round-robin fixtures last week.

Wednesday's affair, which promised so much more, proved a veritable anti-climax – and resulted in a 28-run defeat for the visitors. The Knight Riders' modest total of 163 for eight proved ample, as the Kings XI Punjab slumped to a severely insufficient 135 for eight.

The limelight, meanwhile, shone on the Board of Control for Cricket India's announcement of the ODI squad for June's tour of Bangladesh and the 18-man collective for July and August's five Tests in England.

Recalled to the longest form of the international game, Gautam Gambhir perished for a mere single. Named first-choice wicketkeeper for the one-dayers in the absence of the rested Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the talented Wriddhiman Saha managed a solid – albeit vain – 35.

Brimming with confidence on the back of a maiden call-up to the Indian ranks, spinner Akshar Patel largely economical and snared the key wickets of the dangerous Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa.

Uthappa, who will likely open the batting against the Bangladeshis, continued a remarkable stretch of form that has brought 10 scores in excess of 40 runs, complemented by a slew of quickfire strike-rates. His recall, too, is entirely deserved – and the Man of the Match award capped a very fruitful four hours.

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