Kolkata Knight Riders had their Indian Premier League playoff chances hung by thread after losing to already-eliminated Chennai Super Kings by six wickets in a last-ball thriller on Thursday.
Needing a victory to remain in the hunt for playoffs, Nitish Rana’s solid 61-ball 87 powered Kolkata to a challenging 172-5 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. In a see-saw battle, Kolkata hit back to drag the game into the last ball but Ravindra Jadeja’s clinical hitting lifted Chennai to 178-4.
Chennai were were well on course for victory when they needed 55 off the last 39 deliveries after Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ambati Rayudu collected runs at will. But Pat Cummins did the trick when he dismissed Rayudu after being hit by the same batsman for two consecutive boundaries.
After that 68-run partnership off 37 balls ended, Chennai made life difficult for themselves when they lost MS Dhoni (one) and Gaikwad, suddenly needing 30 from the last two overs. An erratic Lockie Ferguson once again gave Chennai an edge when he was hit for 20 runs in the penultimate over.
With 10 needed from the last six balls, Kamlesh Nagarkoti conceded just three runs from the first four deliveries before Ravindra Jadeja clobbered the young fast bowler for a six to level the scores. With a dot needed to force a Super Over, Jadeja quashed Kolkata hopes smashing the last ball for another six.
Jadeja remained unbeaten on 31 off 11 deliveries hitting three sixes and two fours. He and Curran (11) added 38 runs in just 16 balls to earn some respect for Chennai who are already out of the tournament.
Chennai still languish at the bottom of the table with just 10 matches and one match left. Gaikwad was the top scorer for Chennai making a 53-ball 72 with three fours and two sixes, while Rayudu chipped in 38 off 20 with five fours and a maximum.
Kolkata’s total was totally built around Rana who struck 10 fours and four sixes. He opened the innings with a 53-run partnership with Shubman Gill (26) the second best scorer in Kolkata innings. Lungi Ngidi took two wickets for Chennai.
With just one match left, two-time champions Kolkata are fifth in the table where victory in their last match might not be enough to go through. They are tied on points with Kings XI Punjab, who have two games in hand, and have a better net run rate.
Mumbai Indians are already in the playoffs with 16 points, while Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals are second and third on net run rate with both teams locked on 14 points apiece.