Shukla is the star for the Kolkata side; poor batting seals the defending champion’s fate
Shukla and Agarkar steer KKR home
Dangerman Yusuf Pathan was run out
Durban: Defending champion Rajasthan Royals was knocked out of the Indian Premier League after Kolkata Knight Riders pulled off an upset four-wicket victory in a low-scoring thriller here on Wednesday.
After restricting Royals to a modest 101 for nine, Knight Riders recovered from a stunning top-order collapse to romp home with three balls to spare in a nerve-wracking contest which went down to the wire at the Kingsmead.
All-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla turned out to be the hero for Knight Riders with an unbeaten 48 off 46 balls while paceman Charl Langeveltd (three for 15) did the damage with the ball to ensure that his team finished the tournament on a winning note.
Royals, which desperately needed a win to keep its semifinal hopes alive, paid a heavy price for its poor batting display. Naman Ojha was the top-scorer with 22.
Royals thus finished the tournament with 13 points from 14 matches, while Knight Riders, which was out of the reckoning, completed its engagements with seven points.
Knight Riders’ run chase began on a disastrous note as it lost five wickets for just 37 runs with most of its experienced batsmen back in the hut.
Sourav Ganguly (nought) was the first to depart being dismissed by Munaf Patel, while captain Brendon McCullum (nine) joined him in the pavilion with young Amit Singh taking his wicket.
The in-form Brad Hodge (six), Yashpal Singh (six) and David Hussey (nine) fell in quick succession to leave Knight Riders struggling at 37 for five.
A mix-up which resulted in the run out of Shoaib Shaikh immediately after the strategy break compounded the misery for Knight Riders.
But Shukla and Ajit Agarkar put on a crucial unbeaten 57-run partnership to steer the team home.
Earlier, the contest got off to a dramatic start with Royals smashing as many as 22 runs in the very first over bowled by Hodge with the diminutive opener Naman Ojha belting three sixes to set the tempo for his team.
But the script changed very swiftly for the defending champion as South African paceman Charl Langeveldt, playing his first match of the tournament, struck with his very first ball by scalping opener Rob Quiney (1).
Quiney tried to pull the ball and only managed to top edge it to wicketkeeper Shaikh who latched on to a simple catch.
After the flourishing opening over, Royals suddenly found itself in the pit as it lost Ojha (22), Swapnil Asnodkar (four) and Johan Botha (eight) in quick succession to be left tottering at 42 for four.
While Ojha was done in by a short pitched delivery by Langeveldt, Asnodkar was run out trying to go for a non-existent run.
Botha was promoted in the batting order to steady the rocking ship but he also could not survive long, being cleaned up by Ajit Agarkar off his very first ball.
With wickets tumbling at regular intervals, the scoring rate dropped down quite a bit as Niraj Patel and Yusuf Pathan were quite content in dropping anchor and repairing the early damage.
Langaveltd came back for his second spell and snapped up his third wicket by getting rid of Niraj who completely mistimed his shot and Ganguly held on to a well-judged catch.
Royals suffered a huge blow immediately after the strategic break when dangerman Yusuf (nine) was run out, effectively shattering the team’s hopes of piling up a big total. — PTI
Rajasthan Royals: N. Ojha c Shaikh b Langeveldt 22 (12b, 3x6), R. Quiney c Shaikh b Langeveldt 1 (2b), S. Asnodkar (run out) 4 (6b, 1x4), Niraj c Ganguly b Langeveldt 14 (22b, 1x4), J. Botha b Agarkar 8 (6b, 2x4), Yusuf (run out) 9 (15b, 1x4), R. Jadeja b Sarkar 14 (19b, 1x4), T. Henderson (run out) 0 (1b), S. Warne b Agarkar 18 (29b, 1x4), Munaf (not out) 5 (6b), Amit (not out) 1 (2b); Extras (lb-2, w-3): 5. Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 101.
Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-28, 3-28, 4-42, 5-59, 6-62, 7-62, 8-92, 9-99.
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Hodge 1-0-22-0, Langeveldt 4-0-15-3, Dinda 4-0-12-0, Agarkar 4-0-15-2, Sarkar 3-0-15-1, Shukla 4-20-0.
Kolkata Knight Riders: B. McCullum lbw b Amit 9 (4b, 2x4), S. Ganguly c Jadeja b Munaf 0 (3b), B. Hodge (run out) 6 (8b, 1x4), Yashpal c Quiney b Munaf 6 (20b), D. Hussey c Niraj b Botha 9 (13b, 2x4), L. Shukla (not out) 48 (46b, 3x4, 2x6), S. Shaikh (run out) 6 (7b, 1x4), A. Agarkar (not out) 14 (17b); Extras (b-2, w-1, nb-1): 4. Total (for six wkts. in 19.3 overs): 102.
Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-9, 3-21, 4-30, 5-37, 6-45.
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Munaf 4-0-14-2, Amit 3.3-0-19-1, Botha 4-0-19-1, Warne 4-0-24-0, Jadeja 2-0-14-0, Henderson 2-0-10-0.