Kolkata: Lucknow Super Giants survived a Rinku Singh-scare (67 not out off 33) to register a thrilling one-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders (175/7) in Match No. 68 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 and qualify for the Playoffs at the Eden Gardens, here on Saturday.
With this win, LSG became the third team to qualify for playoffs in the ongoing IPL 2023 season, having 17 points in 14 matches. On the other hand, KKR got eliminated after suffering a close defeat.
Earlier in the day, Chennai Super Kings also cruised into the Playoffs after thrashing Delhi Capitals by 77 runs in Match 67 of IPL 2023 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi. Now, RCB, Mumbai and RR will fight for that last spot, with two last league matches set to be played on Sunday.
West Indies wicket-keeper batter Nicholas Pooran led Lucknow Super Giants' fightback with a quickfire fifty (58 off 30) and guided them to 176/8 in 20 overs.
LSG were reeling at 73/5 after 10.1 overs but Pooran stitched an attacking partnership of 74 runs for the sixth wicket with Ayush Badoni (25 off 21) and helped them post a fighting total. The likes of Shardul Thakur (2-27), Sunil Narine (2-28) and Vaibhav Arora (2-30) picked two wickets each for KKR.
Chasing a fighting total, openers Jason Roy and Venkatesh Iyer got KKR off to a blazing start, scoring 61/1 after 5.5 overs. Roy was the aggressor, but Iyer wasn't far behind, blazing fours and sixes indiscriminately throughout the powerplay. The penultimate ball of the Power-play saw Iyer depart for 24 off Krishnappa Gowtham but the Power-play firmly belonged to KKR.
However, the LSG spinners dragged their team back into the game by taking crucial wickets at regular intervals. KKR's downslide started when leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, in his very first over, got rid of their skipper Nitish Rana (8), who couldn't judge the ball, got an edge and his counterpart Krunal Pandya took a simple catch.
Roy was looking very dangerous with his 28-ball 45 but LSG skipper Krunal Pandya bowled the England batter to put a big dent in KKR's run chase and leave them at 82/3 after 10 overs.
Not only did LSG manage to pick wickets at crucial times, but they also put pressure on KKR batters and gave 6, 6, 9 and 5 runs from overs 11th to 14th. In between, they also got rid of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who flattered to deceive in his 15-ball struggle for 10 runs before mistiming a slower one from Yash Dayal that he did not read.
With big-hitter Andre Russell and proven match-winner Rinku Singh at the crease, KKR needed 63 from 30 balls. In the third ball of Bishnoi's over, Russell hit a straight six and the crowd at Eden found their voices again. However, Bishnoi cleaned up Russell (7) in the next delivery to have the last laugh.
From there on, Rinku had a big responsibility on his shoulders and though the left-hander managed to hit a few boundaries and sixes, he kept losing partners from the other end as Shardul Thakur (3) also couldn't do much and got out to Yash Thakur. Two balls later, Sunil Narine fell in a suicidal run-out,
KKR needed 41 from 12 balls and Rinku decided to put up a fight. He smashed Naveen-ul-Haq for three four and a six, scoring a total of 20 overs in the 19th over to keep KKR alive in the chase.
With 21 needed from six balls, Rinku Singh got the strike in the second ball of the over and he hit Yash Thakur for two sixes and a four but it was not enough as KKR eventually fell short by 1 run.
Earlier, asked to bat first, LSG had a sedate start before Harshit Rana got rid of Karan Sharma in the third over. Karan ended up getting late on the hook to a short ball and handed Shardul Thakur an easy catch.
However, the arrival of Prerak Mankad at the crease made Quinton De Cock open up too. Both De Cock and Mankad hammered the KKR bowlers for the rest of the Power-play, scoring 40 runs in 21 balls as LGG were 54/1 after 6 overs.
It was Vaibhav Arora, who brought KKR back in the game by removing both Mankad (26 off 20) and the in-form batter Marcus Stoinis (0) in the same over. In a must-win game, LSG needed a big contribution from his captain but Krunal Pandya couldn't do much, scoring just nine runs before getting out to Sunil Narine.
Very soon, De Kock (28 off 27) got out and things looked bleak for LSG. Pooran, however, came with positive intent and started on a brisk note. He attacked Varun Chakravarthy but showed a lot of respect to his West Indian teammate Narine while Badoni perfectly played the second fiddle.
LSG were hoping that the two batters would make the most of the death overs but both Badoni and Pooran got out in the 18th and 19th overs respectively. However, thanks to their massive hits before getting out, LSG managed to squeeze 54 off the last 4 overs and managed to reach 176/8 in 20 overs.
Lucknow Super Giants 176/8 in 20 overs (Nicholas Pooran 58; Shardul Thakur 2-27, Sunil Narine 2-28, Vaibhav Arora 2-30) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 175/7 in 20 overs (Rinku Singh 67, Jason Roy 45; Ravi Bishnoi 2-32), Yash Thakur 2-31) by 1 run.