Kolkata Knight Riders closed in on a spot in the Indian Premier League playoffs after recording an emphatic 86-run win against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday.
The result left defending champions Mumbai Indians needing a miraculous 171-run win against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday to surpass Kolkata’s healthy net run-rate of 0.587.
Kolkata finished the league stage with 14 points, which also eliminated Punjab Kings who had earlier beaten Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in Dubai.
The opening pair of Shubman Gill (56) and Venkatesh Iyer (38) laid a solid foundation for Kolkata’s strong total of 171-4 after Rajsthan skipper Sanju Samson won the toss and opted to field.
Fast bowlers Shivam Mavi (4-21) and Lockie Ferguson (3-18) then decimated Rajasthan for 85 all out in 16.1 overs — the lowest team total in this IPL season.
Rahul Tewatia (44) was one of the two Rajasthan batters to reach double figures before he was the last man to get dismissed when Mavi clean bowled the left-hander.
“I don’t think it could have got better,” Kolkata skipper Eoin Morgan said. “Gill and Iyer have been our shining light. I am not too attached to things as to what will happen and what won’t happen. … We have done everything tonight and we deserved to win.”
Earlier, KL Rahul smashed an unbeaten 98 off 42 balls and helped Punjab retain slim playoff hopes with 12 points. Despite defeat on Thursday, Chennai was certain to finish among the top two as they finished the league stage with 18 points.
Tournament top-scorer Rahul just missed a maiden century in this IPL but hammered eight sixes and seven boundaries to overhaul Chennai’s 134-6 with 139-4 and seven overs to spare.
Rahul has hit six half-centuries and scored 626 runs at an impressive average of 62.60 in the tournament.
Fast bowlers Deepak Chahar (1-48) and Dwayne Bravo (0-32) were smacked for 80 runs off six overs as Rahul unleashed an array of shots.
Earlier, after being sent into bat, Chennai’s top order crumbled against seamers Chris Jordan (2-20) and Arshdeep Singh (2-35).
Faf du Plessis made 76 off 55 balls and Ravindra Jadeja 15. They combined in a 67-run partnership after Chennai was 61-5 in the 12th over when legspinner Ravi Bishnoi clean-bowled captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 12.