Stoinis returns but can't stop KKR surging into IPL final
Allrounder back after hamstring injury but will now link up with Australia World Cup squad following Delhi's three-wicket defeat to Kolkata
14 October 2021, 07:34 AM AEST
Marcus Stoinis returned from injury in a promising sign ahead of Australia’s World Cup campaign but the allrounder was unable to stop the Delhi Capitals crashing out of the Indian Premier League on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
Batting at No.3 for the Ricky Ponting-coached side in the absence of Steve Smith, Stoinis struggled to get going in posting 18 off 23 (with a solitary boundary) before being bowled by Shivam Mavi in a lacklustre Delhi innings of 5-135 in Sharjah.
Kolkata Knight Riders stuttered to a three-wicket win over last year's finalists, reaching their first IPL final in seven years with the playoff win over the Capitals.
Stoinis was not thrown the ball in the defeat but is understood to have recently resumed bowling following the hamstring strain he suffered last month.
Both Stoinis and Smith will now link up with Australia’s squad in Abu Dhabi ahead of the World Cup where both are expected to bat in the middle order.
Stoinis has mainly batted further down the order for Delhi this season but Ponting promoted him to first drop for the final.
“We thought long and hard about where Marcus’ best spot would be in the batting order today,” said Ponting.
“He missed about three weeks with that hamstring injury, so he hadn’t played any cricket.
“We desperately wanted him in the team today because we knew he could bat at the top of the order, but we also knew he could bat at the death if required.
“As you saw today with that type of pitch, it was really difficult for any new batsman to come in and start on.
“I think it was the right decision, we probably didn’t get the outcome we were after though.”
The Eoin Morgan-captained Kolkata team had appeared to be sailing to victory before they lost seven wickets for 40 runs, leading to the closest of last-over finishes.
Yet they managed to scrape their way to reach their target on 7-136 with only one ball to spare.
They were thankful to Venkatesh Iyer (55) and Shubman Gill (46), who'd put on 96 for the opening wicket.
South African pace duo Kagiso Rabada (2-23) and Andrich Nortje (2-31) claimed two wickets each and Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two wickets in the last over for the battling Capitals.
But Rahul Tripathi then proved the hero, hammering a straight six off the penultimate ball to see Kolkata through to their third IPL final.
KKR have turned the tide in their favour on the slow pitches of the United Arab Emirates, winning seven of their nine games since the IPL resumed after six months due to the pandemic.
They beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator and then adjusted well on the slow and sluggish wicket of Sharjah on Wednesday as they restricted Delhi to 5-135.
Two-time champions Kolkata last won the title in 2014 when they beat Punjab Kings in the final.
In a repeat of the 2012 final, they will meet Chennai Super Kings in Friday's title game.
Ponting’s side had been last season's runners-up and were top of the table after the group stage, only to lose two matches in a row in the playoffs to miss out on the final.
- with AP
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