Kolkata Knight Riders advanced into its first IPL final on the fifth attempt, defeating Delhi Daredevils by 18 runs in the playoff before a packed house at a neutral venue, the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium.
After Yusuf Pathan (40 off 31 balls) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (24 off 11) joined hands to help the side put up a fighting total, Virender Sehwag and team of big-hitters were derailed by the Kolkata spinners, managing only 144 for eight from 20 overs.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir deployed the spinners smartly on a track playing true to reputation as a slow turner, and with Laxmipathi Balaji's superb spell (2-0-11-1) up front, KKR remained a step ahead right through.
Tweakers Sunil Narine (two for 24) and Iqbal Abdulla (one for 24) did what was expected of them while medium-pacers Jacques Kallis (two for 42) and Rajat Bhatia (one for 16) excelled in restrictive roles.
Shakib al Hasan got lucky with an appeal for caught-behind against Warner. Balaji lured Sehwag to his doom with an out-swinger, the attempted ‘upper cut' ending in wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum's gloves.
Naman Ojha and Mahela Jayawardene took up the task of recovery, and at 49 for two after six overs of Batting Powerplay, the chase was back on.
After Ojha's departure for 29, Delhi's gambit of promoting Venugopala Rao to milk the slow bowlers seemed to work. Just when it appeared like Jayawardene would carry his team to victory, Abdulla struck, teasing the Lankan out of the crease, and McCullum had an easystumping.
Pawan Negi vindicated a surprise promotion to No.4 and Venugopala kept his cool as the 15-over mark was negotiated with no more damage and, at 109 for four, target remained within reach.
Kallis kept testing Venugopala's patience from one end and presently reaped his reward. And, once Ross Taylor fell to a smart catch by Abdulla on the fence, the match had decisively swung Kolkata's way.
Sehwag banked on pace for early breakthrough after losing the toss; Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel and Varun Aaron sent down in one over each. Openers Gambhir and McCullum played their shots as the Batting Powerplay yielded 48 runs. Gambhir's imperious cover drives and savage pulls were breathtaking.
It was a sharp bit of fielding that led to Gambhir's fall. A direct hit from Venugopala caught the Kolkata skipper short, and Gambhir departed for 32 off 16 balls.
Sehwag employed spin against Kallis; the South African's troubles in tackling Negi's third over may have made Daredevils realise their blunder in picking four pacers.
After Kallis's dismissal in the 17th over amidst a mad scramble for runs, Yusuf Pathan lashed a six off Morkel, and Laxmi Ratan Shukla proved the pretty effective slogger at the death.
Kolkata Knight Riders: B. McCullum c Warner b Negi 31 (36b, 2x4, 1x6), G. Gambhir run out 32 (16b, 3x4, 2x6), J Kallis c Taylor b Yadav 30 (33b, 3x4), Shakib-ul-Hasan c Ojha b Pathan 1 (3b), Yusuf Pathan (not out) 40 (21b, 3x4, 2x6), L R Shukla (not out) 24 (11b, 3x4, 1x6), Extras (w-2, lb-2) 4. Total (for four wkts in 20 overs) 162.
Fall of wkts: 1-48 (Gambhir), 2-87 (McCullum), 3-91 (Shakib), 4-106 (Kallis).
Delhi Daredevils bowling: Irfan Pathan 4-0-20-1, Yadav 4-0-37-1, Morkel 4-0-37-0, Aaron 4-0-48-0, Negi 4-0-18-1.
Delhi Daredevils: D. Warner c McCullum b Shakib 7 (6b, 1x6), V. Sehwag c McCullum b Balaji 10 (7b, 1x4), N. Ojha c Gambhir b Bhatia 29 (28b, 4x4, 1x6), M. Jayawardene st McCullum b Abdulla 40 (33b, 6x4), V. Rao c Bhatia b Kallis 13 (22b), P. Negi st McCullum b Narine 14 (11b, 2x4), R. Taylor c Abdulla b Kallis 11 (8b, 1x6), Irfan Pathan (not out) 6 (3b, 1x4), M. Morkel c Bhatia b Morkel 0 (1b), U. Yadav not out 1 (1b), Extras (b-4, lb-5,w-5) 14. Total (for eight wkts in 20 overs) 144.Fall of wkts: 1-24 (Warner), 2-24 (Sehwag), 3-83 (Ojha), 4-108 (Jayawardene), 5-120 (Rao), 6-133 (Taylor),7-142 (Negi), 8-142 (Morkel).
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Balaji 2-0-11-1, Shakib 4-0-36-1, Kallis 4-0-24-2, Narine 4-0-24-2, Abdulla 4-0-24-1, Bhatia 2-0-16-1.
Man-of-the-match: Yusuf Pathan.