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IPL Match 54: Royals book place in final 4 leaving Kolkata on the brink

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The Rajasthan Royals booked their place in the knock-out rounds of season 8 of the Indian Premier League with a thrilling 9 run victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders in a must win match for both sides.

Both teams made some surprise selections, with Kolkata leaving out star spinners Sunil Narine and Brad Hogg, and instead recalling veteran Pakistani allrounder Azhar Mahmood, while the Rajasthan Royals handed a debut to lanky seamer Brainder Sran in a clutch game.

The flip of the coin went the way of the Royals, who immediately opted to bat first. Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane led the charge for the Royals, sharing in an opening partnership worth 80 runs in just 7 overs. Rahane fell for 37 from just 22 balls, run out in unfortunate fashion, but Shane Watson took over the assault from the other end, and carried his bat through the innings, making an outstanding century off just 59 balls.

Watson didn't really get much support from the other end after Rahane's departure as wickets fell at regular intervals, but his effort was enough to propel Rajasthan to a very competitive score of 199/6. The pick of the bowlers for the Knight Riders was Andre Russell, who chipped in with 3-32.

Kolkata's task was made all the more difficult when they lost skipper Gautam Gambhir for 1 in the very first over. Robin Uthappa made a quickfire 14 from 8 balls, but fell to Dhawal Kulkarni, who also accounted for Manish Pandey for 21.

At 77-3 from 9 overs, Kolkata were only just behind the asking rate, but they desperately needed a partnership to tide them over the middle of the innings.

Like they have all summer, Yusuf Pathan (44 from 35 balls) and Andre Russell (37 from 20 balls) answered the call for their side, adding 55 for the fourth wicket.

Chris Morris returned to have Russell caught in the deep, and also accounted for Surya Kumar Yadav on the very next ball, caught behind off an absolute jaffa.

Pathan's dismissal to Shane Watson a couple of overs later put Rajasthan firmly in the driver's seat, and the Royals continued their charge by running through the lower middle order, leaving Kolkata with 35 to win from the last two overs.

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav showed some ability using the long handle as he powered his way to an unbeaten 24 from 11 balls with James Faulkner conceding 20 runs from the 19th over to keep Kolkata very much in the contest, but Chris Morris wrapped up the game for his side to finish with figures of 4-23 as the Royals booked their place in the knock-out rounds with a narrow 9 run win.

The victory for Rajasthan takes them up to second place in the IPL standings, but they will need some help from other sides if they are to retain that place at the end of tomorrow's matches. Kolkata meanwhile will be praying for their own share of luck as the defending champions stand on the brink in fourth place and will need results to firmly go in their favour if they are to head into the eliminator game next week.


Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Steven Smith (c), Karun Nair, Sanju Samson (wk), Deepak Hooda, James Faulkner, Chris Morris, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni, Brainder Sran

Kolkata Knight Riders: Robin Uthappa (wk), Gautam Gambhir (c), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Surya Kumar Yadav, Azhar Mahmood, Piyush Chawla, Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel

Mini Scorecard:

Rajasthan Royals 199/6 (20 overs, 9.95rpo)

S Watson 104* (59) A Russell 3-32 (4)

A Rahane 37 (22) U Yadav 1-36 (4)

Kolkata Knight Riders 190/9 (20 overs, 9.50rpo)

Y Pathan 44 (35) C Morris 4-23 (4)

A Russell 37 (20) D Kulkarni 2-36 (4)

Rajasthan Royals win by 9 runs