Kolkata Knight Riders dictated terms against Pune Warriors on a pitch similar to the Eden Gardens, and won by 34 runs in the DLF-IPL-V at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium here on Saturday. With this win, KKR confirmed its second position after 16 matches.
It will now clash with Delhi Daredevils in the first qualifier (play-off) here next Tuesday.
Yusuf Pathan, who had bowled 19 overs in all for a wicket and given away 153 runs before this match, struck twice to put his team in control.
He removed Michael Clarke and broke the 40-run stand between the Australian captain and New Zealander Jesse Ryder. Yusuf then castled the Kiwi opener. On a deteriorating wicket, KKR used four spinners and they picked six of the eight wickets.
Warriors ended the league campaign with their ninth defeat in a row.
With Delhi Daredevils notching up its 11th win (against Kings XI Punjab at Dharamshala) to top the table with 22 points, KKR's main objective was to retain its second spot.
McCullum gave KKR a bright start with two sparkling boundaries in the first over — a cover drive and a lofted drive — off left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra.
Playing his first match in this year's league, left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza bowled well to keep the Knight Riders' run rate at a little over five.
The opening spells by left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell and Murtaza (2-0-11-0) did not give any leeway for the in-form Gautam Gambhir and McCullum to force the pace.
With the pitch encouraging the slow bowlers, Sourav Ganguly used Clarke for a four-over spell and it turned out to be a smart move. The Australian captain gave only seven runs in his first three overs. The surface was a typical May-wicket, staying low and also slow off the surface.
Warriors struck twice in quick succession. Gambhir perished, trying to clear mid-on, while Jacques Kallis was bowled by an arm-ball from Clarke. It was 40 for two at that stage.
Warriors sustained the pressure until McCullum broke free in the 12th over bowled by Nehra.
Providing the thrust
Two pulls off the left-arm seamer provided some thrust and soon after Shakib Al Hasan hammered two sixes off Clarke as KKR stepped up its run rate to 11.6 from overs 12 to 16. The Bangladesh left-hander was dropped on 13 by Parnell at deep backward square leg off Clarke.
Warriors made a strong comeback in the last four overs, removing McCullum and Shakib.
The visiting side was restricted to 136, as Warriors gave themselves a chance to end their campaign in style. However, KKR outsmarted them in the end.
Kolkata Knight Riders: B. McCullum c Ryder b Parnell 41 (43b, 5x4), G. Gambhir c Nehra b Parnell 10 (12b, 1x4), J. Kallis b Clarke 13 (18b, 1x4), Shakib b Bhuvneshwar 42 (30b, 3x4, 2x6), M. Tiwary (not out) 8 (9b), Yusuf (not out) 15 (10b, 2x4); Extras (b-4, lb-1, nb-2): 7; Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 136.
Fall of wickets: 1-21 (Gambhir), 2-40 (Kallis), 3-107 (McCullum), 4-117 (Shakib).
Pune Warriors bowling: Nehra 4-0-35-0, Murtaza 2-0-11-0, Parnell 4-0-18-2, Bhuvneshwar 4-0-23-1, Clarke 4-0-27-1, Ganguly 2-0-17-0.
Pune Warriors: R. Uthappa c Tiwary b Abdulla 8 (8b, 1x4), J. Ryder b Yusuf 22 (24b, 2x6), M. Clarke st. McCullum b Yusuf 13 (18b), S. Ganguly lbw b Shakib 5 (8b), A. Majumdar st. McCullum b Shakib 17 (22b), C. Ferguson c Kallis b Bhatia 12 (18b), Harpreet c & b Narine 6 (6b), W. Parnell c sub (Shukla) b Balaji 3 (5b), Bhuvneshwar (not out) 3 (6b), A. Murtaza (not out) 3 (5b); Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-7): 10; Total (for eight wkts. in 20 overs): 102.
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Uthappa), 2-51 (Clarke), 3-56 (Ryder), 4-62 (Ganguly), 5-86 (Majumdar), 6-92 (Ferguson), 7-95 (Harpreet), 8-97 (Parnell).
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Balaji 4-0-20-1, Shakib 4-0-18-2, Abdulla 3-0-20-1, Narine 4-0-15-1, Yusuf 2-0-12-2, Bhatia 3-0-14-1.