Sunday Territorian

Rahul steers Punjab into IPL playoffs contention


KL Rahul steered Punjab Kings to a nailbiting five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, keeping their hopes alive for a playoff place in the Indian Premier League.

KKR looked set for a big total in Dubai with Venkatesh Iyer smashing 67 off 49 balls but Punjab restricted them to 7-165 with England captain Eoin Morgan out for two.

Punjab were without Chris Gayle who announced his departure from the IPL on Friday with coronaviru­s “bubble fatigue” and to prepare for the West Indies Twenty20 World Cup campaign.

“I want to refocus on helping the West Indies in the T20 World Cup and would like to take a break in Dubai,” Gayle said in a statement.

But the openers made a good start before Mayank Agarwal departed for 40, caught at cover by Morgan – having dropped him in the first over – off Varun Chakravart­hy.

Nicholas Pooran fell for 12, Aiden Markram for 18 and then Deepak Hooda for three.

But Rahul held his nerve with a commanding 67 off 55 balls.

Rahul looked out with 10 balls left but Rahul Tripathi, taking what appeared to be a spectacula­r diving catch, was adjudged by the third umpire to have grounded the ball.

Rahul was finally caught a few balls later.

With four needed off four balls, Shahrukh Khan heaved the ball to the fence, where Tripathi fumbled it over the rope.

“I think catches cost us,” Morgan said afterwards.

Punjab’s win takes it to fifth, level on 10 points with fourthplac­ed KKR and Mumbai Indians in sixth.

The top four teams will go through to the play-offs.

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