Punjab stays in IPL playoff hunt while denting Kolkata hopes
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Punjab Kings' flickering playoff hopes brightened and they dimmed Kolkata Knight Riders' own chances after winning their Indian Premier League match in the last over on Friday.
Punjab, a day after Chris Gayle left to be fresh for West Indies at the Twenty20 World Cup, moved up and joined Kolkata and Mumbai to four points behind third-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore in the race to make the top four. Mumbai has a game in hand.
After winning the toss and electing to bowl, Punjab rallied to restrict Kolkata to 165-7 when a total of at least 180 looked doable.
But Kolkata scored only 44 off the last five overs, as the decision to go with an extra batsman instead of a fifth bowler began to backfire.
Without a specialist fifth bowler, Kolkata was overtaken at 168-5 with three balls left. Kolkata's fielding didn’t help either.
Captain Eoin Morgan dropped Mayank Agarwal off the second ball of the chase. Agarwal went on to 40. Rahul Tripathi dropped Nicholas Pooran on 1, and he made 12.
Tripathi also had a disputed diving catch of Punjab captain KL Rahul in the 19th over but the TV umpire disagreed. Rahul was out in the last over after an anchoring 67, but the next ball ended the match when Tripathi, covering deep midwicket, got the ball in his hand only for it to pop out and drop over the boundary for Shahrukh Khan's winning six.
Venkatesh Iyer led Kolkata's batting with 69 off 49 balls, including nine boundaries. He was well supported by Tripathi, 34 off 26. But the momentum was lost as Morgan failed again, out lbw for 2 when he whiffed at Mohammed Shami. Nitish Rana provided late fireworks with 31 off 18 but after the batting was bolstered, 165 looked sub-par.
The fifth bowler duties were shared by Iyer and Rana and Punjab exploited their shared 3.3 overs by taking 37 runs.
Around the dropped catches, Rahul and Agarwal gave a 70-run opening stand, and Rahul and Aiden Markram shared 45 to pace Punjab well.
Rahul answered critics of his cautious batting by getting his side almost to the finish line before he was out in the last over, caught on the boundary, four boundaries and two sixes in his 55 balls faced.