Kolkata: Lucknow Super Giants survived a late Rinku Singh onslaught to secure a thrilling one-run win and seal their second successive play-offs berth in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday.
Pooran held the LSG innings together with a counter-attacking 30-ball 58 (4×4, 5×6) to propel them to a fighting 176/8 after being invited to bat.
Chasing 177 for a win, Rinku threatened to pull off yet another last over win for KKR with a ruthless 67 not out from 33 balls (6×4, 4×6) as he waged a lone battle. But it was not enough in the end as KKR ended at 175 for 7 to lose the match by one run.
With 12 points from 14 matches, KKR were out of play-offs contention.
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The left-handed Rinku smashed Naveenul-Haq for three fours and one six in a 20-run penultimate over to bring up his fifty in 27 balls.
KKR needed 21 runs off the last over bowled by Yash Thakur (2/12) but they could score only 19 as Rinku hit two sixes and a four.
LSG thus finished third in the table with 17 points from 14 matches, sealing a back-to-back play-offs berth. Chennai Super Kings also ended with 17 points from 14 matches but they took the second spot with a better net run rate of +0.652 as against +0.284 of LSG.
Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore who play their last matches on Sunday are in the race for the lone fourth spot.
It was a target KKR needed to win inside nine overs to go past Royal Challengers Bangalore on net run-rate and keep their slender IPL play-offs hopes alive.
The KKR opening duo of Jason Roy (45) and Venkatesh Iyer (24) showed the right intent, taking on Mohsin Khan and Naveen-ul-Haq in the first two overs to race to 30 for no loss.
Roy then took LSG skipper Krunal to cleaners when he hit the left-arm spinner for three boundaries in a row.
From being 61 for no loss, KKR lost the plot as the LSG spinners strangled them right after the powerplay when Iyer, Nitish Rana (8) and Roy got out for the addition of just 21 runs.
By then, KKR’s slim hopes were gone and it was about playing for pride.
Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi (2/23) was the pick of LSG bowlers, while Krunal and Krishnappa Gowtham also bagged one each.
Earlier, Nicholas Pooran held the innings together with a counter-attacking fifty to propel LSG to a fighting 176 for eight.
Pooran (58 off 30 balls) rebuilt the innings after LSG were precariously placed at 73/5 with all their top batters, including the in-form duo of Marcus Stoinis (0) and Krunal Pandya (9), getting out cheaply.
Put into bat, LSG struggled to break free early on with rookie new ball bowler duo of Vaibhav Arora (2/30) and Harshit Rana (1/21 from three overs) setting the pace beautifully before spinners got into the act.
Old warhorse Sunil Narine (2/28) and Varun Chakravarthy (1/38) removed Krunal and Quinton de Kock (28) in successive overs to bring cheer to the KKR camp.
But, Pooran produced his counter-attacking display and smashed Chakravarthy for two fours and a six to start the recovery act.
Overall, Pooran slammed fives sixes and four boundaries in a 74-run (47 balls) partnership with Ayush Badoni (25).
In their must-win match, KKR bowlers made all the difference, bowling 49 dot balls which is equivalent to 8.1 overs.
The KKR new ball bowlers set the tempo early on with Harshit Rana giving away just one run in the opening over and returned in his next over to dismiss Karan Sharma inside the powerplay.
De Kock and Mankad, however, managed to keep the run-rate up with 54/1 in the powerplay, taking on Chakravarthy, KKR’s best spinner this season.
Just when LSG looked to have found their feet on a dry Eden surface, Arora’s twin blow in the seventh over pushed the visitors further.
While Mankad (26) got out trying to go aerial, the LSG’s crisis man Marcus Stoinis got an unplayable delivery to be out for a two-ball duck.
Arora got the short ball rise awkwardly and Stoinis had no answer and got his glove to be caught at the slip.
At 55/3 in 6.5 overs, LSG had the duo of De Kock and skipper Krunal Pandya to repair the damage but the experienced duo showed little application and got out in successive overs, playing reckless shots.
Narine got Krunal in his first over, while Chakravarthy dismissed the well-set De Kock who played an atrocious slog sweep.