Supergiants dumped out in rain-hit game
Kolkata Knight Riders 66 for 2 (Yusuf 37*, R Ashwin 2-30) beat Rising Pune Supergiants 103 for 6 (Bailey 33, Chawla 2-21) by eight wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A sharp bowling performance from Kolkata Knight Riders followed by Yusuf Pathan's blazing cameo ensured Rising Pune Supergiants, in their debut season, were the first team to be knocked out of IPL 2016. The eight-wicket victory, in a rain-hit game at Eden Gardens, meant that Knight Riders moved to second place on the points table.
It was a clinical performance from the hosts. Andre Russell and Morne Morkel thrived in the Powerplay, while the amount of turn Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine got left the Supergiants batsmen dizzy in the middle overs. Heavy rain interrupted the game with MS Dhoni on 8 off 22 balls and his team at 103 for 6 in 17.4 overs.
More than two hours of play were lost, putting an end to the first innings and handing Knight Riders a target of 66 in nine overs. R Ashwin struck twice in the first over to give Supergiants a sliver of hope, but Yusuf muscled an unbeaten 37 off 18 balls to close the match out and set off on a celebratory sprint as purple balloons were sent into the sky. His job, though, was made considerably simpler by the Knight Riders bowlers.
After Supergiants had opted to bat, Russell struck in his second over, when he bowled Ajinkya Rahane off the inside edge for 2. It was his eighth wicket in Powerplays this season, which is only one shy of Dhawal Kulkarni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who top that list.
Morkel was impressive as well. He was able to generate extra bounce and should have had Usman Khawaja caught behind, but umpire Bruce Oxenford did not spot the nick. Khawaja could not make much of his reprieve though and fell to Shakib Al Hasan for 21.
George Bailey hinted at a revival when he punched Morkel through extra cover and lofted Shakib over the same region. The second hit helped Supergiants end the Powerplay at 45 for 2. With the field restrictions done, Knight Riders went to their spinners and a biting legbreak from Chawla had Bailey stumped for 33 off 27 balls. Chawla finished with 2 for 21 in four overs.
With the score at 74 for 4 in the 11th over, Supergiants were reliant on their captain for a strong finish and Gambhir gave Dhoni a very cold welcome from very close quarters. The Knight Riders captain placed himself at silly point, and added two slips and a short leg to pile on the pressure. By the end of his innings, Dhoni had been involved in a mix-up that cost Irfan Pathan his wicket and his strike-rate of 36.36 was the lowest by a batsman who had faced more than 20 balls in all IPLs.
Thisara Perera struck Chawla for a straight six in the 17th over to break a spell of 48 balls without a boundary, but was caught at long-off the very next ball. By the time Sunil Narine, who returned from a finger injury, came on to bowl the 18th, a drizzle had begun and its persistence had Knight Riders worried. They needed a win today to strengthen their chances of staying in the top four and rain had not been their friend in the past.
Both Gambhir and the head coach Jacques Kallis had recounted their trouble with wet weather in 2015, when one of their home matches was abandoned, which in turn contributed to their failure to make the playoffs.
However, the match resumed at 11.45 pm and offspinner R Ashwin found big turn even with the new ball. His second ball pitched on off stump, beat Robin Uthappa in flight, and had him stumped. Two balls later, Gambhir was trapped in front for a duck.
Yusuf turned the chase in the third over, the last one of the revised Powerplay. He clubbed R Ashwin for a brace of fours and sixes before targetting the other Ashwin. Yusuf drove M Ashwin over the covers and followed it with a powerful hit over long-off. By then, the equation was simple: 9 off 30. Knight Riders romped home with 24 balls to spare and Dhoni, for the first time in nine years of IPL, will not be involved in the knockouts.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo