Lucknow beat KKR by one run, qualify for playoffs

By, Kolkata
May 21, 2023 12:09 AM IST

Rinku Singh almost prevails in tight chase after Nicholas Pooran 58 guides LSG to 176

Lucknow Super Giants knocked Kolkata Knight Riders out of the IPL after defeating them by one run at Eden Gardens on Saturday and finishing the league phase at third with 17 points, behind Gujarat Titans (18) and Chennai Super Kings (17). Reduced to 73/5 at one point, LSG rode a belligerent fifty from Nicholas Pooran to finish on 176 before their slow bowlers tightened their screws on a batting unit that frittered away an opportunity to finish the IPL on a winning note in front of the home crowd. Jason Roy and Venkatesh Iyer gave KKR a rollicking start but they imploded in the middle overs, leaving Rinku Singh (67* off 33 balls) the unenviable task of scripting yet another last-ball win. This time though, he didn’t prevail.

IPL 2023: Lucknow Super Giants batter Nicholas Pooran celebrates his half century.(PTI)
IPL 2023: Lucknow Super Giants batter Nicholas Pooran celebrates his half century.(PTI)

Score 177 in 8.5 overs or 182 in 9.2 overs — the qualifying equation was tough for KKR even before the match started, not to forget how it relied on Royal Challengers Bangalore losing on Sunday. But they still gave it a crack. LSG were slow off the blocks, scoring 15 in the first three overs before Quinton de Kock and Prerak Mankad hit a flurry of boundaries to finish the powerplay on 54/1. Once the fielding restrictions were relaxed though, KKR were in better control of the proceedings.

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The short ball tactic worked wonders on Eden’s spongy bounce, with both Marcus Stoinis and Mankad failing to stay on top of deliveries banged in short by Vaibhav Arora in the seventh over. Krunal Pandya then tried to slog sweep Sunil Narine but holed to Rinku Singh near deep square leg. And when De Kock was caught at midwicket trying to slog Narine in the next over, there was a real chance LSG could have been knocked over for less than 140. In came Pooran though, guiding Varun Chakaravarthy through slip for a four before rocking back and cutting him for another boundary. Six off the next ball and LSG were off to a handsome start of a rebuilding phase that added 74 runs in 47 balls.

KKR went all in after the fall of the fifth wicket, subbing Harshit Rana with Suyash Sharma in the 12th over in hope of leaving LSG in knots with their spin attack. But he was muscled out of the ground by Pooran off the first ball of his over. From 54/1 after the powerplay, LSG had slipped to 73/4 in 10 overs but Pooran’s counterattack helped them stabilise before adding 54 runs in the last four overs. That effectively pulled the plug on KKR’s hopes as LSG set up an unrealistic chase despite posting a par total.

KKR nevertheless tried. First over from Mohsin Khan, Iyer slashed him through point for a four, skipped down the pitch to pull him for a stunning six before glancing him past short fine-leg for a boundary. Roy hit the ground running as well, carving Naveen-ul-Haq for a four past mid-on before going over his head for a six and slapping the ball past backward point for a boundary. Two overs in and KKR were daring to dream at 30/0. But LSG quickly pulled even by introducing their slow bowlers Krunal Pandya and K Gowtham in tandem. Pandya got some stick in the fifth over when Roy hit him for three consecutive fours but the job had been done — KKR’s innings had been stalled. At 8.5 overs, KKR were 78/2, 99 runs short of what would have been an outrageous win.

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years' experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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