Kolkata through to IPL final

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The Kolkata Knight Riders secured a berth in Sunday's Indian Premier League final thanks to sound 18-run triumph over the Delhi Daredevils at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune.

The Kolkata Knight Riders secured a berth in Sunday's Indian Premier League final thanks to sound 18-run triumph over the Delhi Daredevils at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune.

The victory was built on the back of Yusuf Pathan and Laxmi Shukla's late-innings blitz before the characteristic stranglehold of the Kolkata slow bowlers sealed the deal.

Gautam Gambhir's decision to bat first didn't enjoy the fluid start the Knight Riders captain would have hoped for after winning the toss. His 32, Brendon McCullum's 31 and Jacques Kallis' 30 were all jobs half done.

At least one of the top three should have gone onto higher honours, but it was instead left to Pathan and Shukla to force the issue belatedly.

The hard-hitting right-hander, with sidekick Shukla along for the ride, fetched all of 65 runs from the final five overs. Man of the Match Yusuf ended on 40 not out from just 21 balls, while Shukla's unbeaten 24 came off 11.

Varun Aaron's expense was at the heart of the carnage, with the Indian seamer traveling for 21 runs from his last six deliveries. Irfan Pathan, meanwhile, split the webbing on his right-hand, leaving the all-rounder's participation with the bat substantially hindered later.

Delhi's pursuit was seemingly dead in the water after the early departures of David Warner and Virender Sehwag. The cavalier Australian and swashbuckling Indian fell in successive deliveries, managing just 17 runs between them.

Naman Ojha and Mahela Jayawardene, however, refused to go down without a fight. The duo kept their side in the hunt with a 59-run alliance – the highest of the match – inside nine overs.

A clever change of pace from seamer Rajat Bhatia, though, ended the fightback. Caught at point, Ojha made his way back to the hut. One would have expected Ross Taylor or Irfan to replace the outgoing batsman, but instead the Daredevils sent in Venugopal and then Pawan Negi. Neither were successful, both using up valuable deliveries across their respective pedestrianism.

When Taylor and Irfan eventually did get to the crease, the asking rate was beyond even their big-hitting capabilities. Spinners Sunil Narine and Iqbal Abdulla were at the height of their success, snaring three victims between them and conceding just 48 runs from their combined eight overs.

Taylor, one-dimensional and ineffective in his single-minded attempt to bang each and every delivery over the midwicket fence, and Irfan, visibly pained by his hand injury, were never in the race.

While Kallis ultimately got the better of the New Zealand captain, Narine was soon at hand to snare the final wickets through the lower order.

Saturday's result assured Kolkata straight passage into the tournament finale, while Delhi will have a second chance when they meet the winner of Wednesday's eliminator clash between the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

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