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Kolkata knock Rajasthan out

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: May 20, 2009 20:16 IST
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Kolkata Knight Riders played the perfect party spoilers as they upset champions Rajasthan Royals by four wickets and knocked them out of the Indian Premier League, in Durban, on Wednesday.

Chasing a lowly target of 102, bottom-placed Kolkata flirted with disaster in their concluding match before sneaking home with three deliveries to spare.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla kept a cool head despite the fall of wickets at the other end to finish unbeaten on 48 from 46 deliveries.

He was involved in an unfinished partnership of 57 runs from eight overs with Ajit Agarkar (13 from 17 deliveries) that helped Kolkata notch only their third victory in the competition.

Earlier, in what was a must-win match for them, Rajasthan's batsmen disappointed as they put up only 101 for nine in their 20 overs.

Charl Langeveldt, making his IPL debut, took three for 15 and Ajit Agarkar, two for 15, to keep the defending champions in check.

Rajasthan innings:

Rajasthan took a big gamble in this do-or-die match when they dropped Graeme Smith and brought in the relatively untested Tyron Henderson.

Meanwhile, Kolkata started off with part-timer Brad Hodge and immediately Naman Ojha took him to the cleaners, dispatching the first ball for a six over square leg. He tried to repeat the dose again off the next delivery but got a top edge and David Hussey, running in from square leg, dropped a sitter.

Ojha made them pay as he carted two more sixes in the first over as Rajasthan raced to 22.

Charl Langeveldt, making his IPL debut, struck with his first delivery. He surprised Rob Quiney (1) with a quick, short delivery that the left-hander tried to hook, but the top-edge went straight to wicketkeeper Shoaib Shaikh. (22-1, 1.1)

Swapnil Asnodkar then committed suicide, running himself out for 4, while attempting a quick single. (28-2, 2.5)

Wickets kept tumbling as Kolkata struck for the third over in succession; this time it was the high-flying Ojha. The right-hander, who made 22 from 12 deliveries, flirted at a wide, out-swinging delivery from Langeveldt and was caught behind off an outside edge. (28-3, 3.3)

Ajit Agarkar also did not take much time to get his name on the wickets' list. He claimed the wicket of Johan Botha, bowled off an inside edge, for 8 in his first over. (42-4, 5.3)

Langeveldt used the short delivery quite well and it was a similar one that fetched him his third wicket. Neeraj Patel (14 from 22 deliveries) tried to pull one from outside the off-stump but again didn't get maximum mileage and was neatly taken by Sourav Ganguly, running behind at midwicket. (59-5, 9.2)

After smashing 22 runs in the opening over, Rajasthan seemed to have lost their way. They scored just 40 runs in the next nine overs, losing five wickets in the process, and were reduced to 62 for five at the halfway stage.

The first over after the strategic time-out brought further misery for Rajasthan. Their biggest hope -- Yusuf Pathan -- was run-out for 9 after a misunderstanding with Ravindra Jadeja. (62-6, 10.5)

Three deliveries later, the innings was left in complete tatters when Rajasthan's most expensive purchase for this tournament, Tyron Henderson, also fell for a duck to a run-out. (62-7, 11.2)

Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Warne stitched together a 30-run partnership, the best of the innings, before the former lost his wicket. Jadeja (14 from 19 deliveries) made room and tried to play Sourav Sarkar through the off-side, but a full delivery broke through his defences and crashed on to the stumps. (92-8, 17.2)

Captain Warne toiled a lot but the Kolkata bowlers kept plugging on, making it difficult for Rajasthan. Warne scored 18 from 29 deliveries before he was bowled by Agarkar in the final over of the innings.

Rajasthan finished on a lowly 101 for nine in their 20 overs.

All the Kolkata bowlers, except Hodge, came up with a magnificent effort. Langeveldt had a memorable debut to boast of -- a spell of three for 15 in four overs – that triggered the collapse in the early overs.

Kolkata innings:

Despite having a low target to chase, Brendon McCullum was in no mood to relent and started the innings with two consecutive boundaries off Munaf Patel.

But the India fast bowler did not lose hope and claimed the big wicket of Sourav Ganguly off the final delivery of the first over.

Ganguly (0) also seemed in a wild rush as he made room to smash Munaf through the off-side but could only hit straight to Jadeja at point. (9-1, 1)

Amit Singh then injected fuel in Rajasthan's hopes when he trapped McCullum leg before wicket for 9 with his first delivery. (9-2, 1.1)

Yashpal Singh got bogged down and struggled to get the scoreboard going. He scored a painstaking six from 20 deliveries before an uppish cut shot was very well-held by Quiney at the third man boundary. (21-3, 5)

But the biggest blow came in the form of Brad Hodge, Kolkata's most consistent batsman in the IPL. Hodge (6) played a soft defensive shot, and, as the ball bounced near the stumps, took a few steps forward. However, an alert wicketkeeper Ojha was quick to gather the ball and take off the bails.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla, on 6, got a reprieve in Warne's first over when 'keeper Ojha dropped a sharp chance in the ninth over.

But Kolkata's hopes took a further beating when David Hussey was gobbled up by Botha for 9. The Australian tried to pull a short delivery from the off-spinner but didn't get it off the middle of the bat and the ball went straight to the midwicket fielder. (37-5, 9.1)

Kolkata's batsmen seemed to have no strategy despite chasing such a small target; their batters either went for broke or were too defensive.

With Kolkata reduced to a paltry 38 for five after 10 overs, suddenly it was Rajasthan who were favourites at this stage.

Rajasthan continued to make inroads as Shoaib Shaikh (6) tried to steal a quick single but was sent back by batsman Shukla, and the result was the fifth run-out of the match. (45-6, 11.3)

Shukla brought some relief to the Kolkata camp when he smashed Warne for a huge six over long-on; it also saw him become the first batsman to cross double figures in Kolkata's innings.

With 45 needed from the last seven overs, the match was still within Kolkata's reach, but the worrying factor was that they had just four wickets in hand.

Shukla kept battling and scored a much-needed boundary in the 16th over as the equation was reduced to 27 from the last four overs.

Shukla and Agarkar showed great presence of mind as they took six singles in Warne's final over to take Kolkata to 81 for six after 17 overs.

Shukla then tilted the scales in Kolkata's favour with a huge six over square leg off Botha. Needing just 11 from the last two overs, he then slammed Henderson for a boundary through the covers to bring Kolkata closer to their third victory in their final match in the tournament.

There was no need for fireworks as both batsmen showed a calm approach and garnered the required runs through some quick running between the wickets.

Shukla finished unbeaten on a composed 48 from 46 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and two sixes, to take Kolkata to 102 for six in 19.3 overs.

Agarkar gave him good support and was not out on 13 from 17 deliveries. The two batsmen added 57 runs in eight overs to knock out the champions.

In end, Rajasthan, despite a brave effort with the ball, fell short. It was their failure with the bat that hurt them. It could be said that dropping Graeme Smith for such a crucial encounter backfired as the youngsters failed to cope up with the pressure.

Rajasthan thus failed to make the semi-finals, after finishing with 13 points from 14 matches, while bottom-placed Kolkata went back feeling a bit better after wins over Chennai and Rajasthan.

The result now leaves Deccan Chargers, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab to fight it out for the last two spots in the semi-finals and join Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings.

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Harish Kotian

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