Knight Riders spoil Royals party

May 20th, 2009 - 10:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Durban, May 20 (IANS) Defending champions Rajasthan Royals’ semifinal hopes came to an agonising end as they collapsed to a four-wicket loss to bottom-placed Kolkata Knight Riders in a low-scoring Indian Premier League (IPL) thriller here Wednesday.
Rajasthan Royals, needing a win from the last league match to stay in the semi-final race, managed only 101 runs after being put to bat.

Led by an inspiring Shane Warne, Royals fought back to reduce Knight Riders to 45 for six, before Laxmi Ratan Shukla arrested the slide with a fighting unbeaten 48. Together with Ajit Agarkar (13), he added 57 runs to register the team’s second successive and third overall win.

Knight Riders had been long out of the tournament, but turned out to be the party spoilers for Royals, who finished their campaign on 13 points.

Surprisingly, Royals, who had shown nerves of steel and pulled off tense finishes, were let down by some sloppy fielding towards the end and wasted as many as three run out opportunities.

Brendon McCullum hit Munaf Patel (2-24) for two successive fours in the first over and looked to carry the imperious touch that downed Chennai Super Kings. An off-colour Ganguly fell in Munaf’s last ball and then McCullum was out in the first ball of the second over off Amit Singh.

Royals took control of the match with some disciplined bowling and Knight Riders lost four more wickets in quick succession.

Shukla remained calm at one end to revive the innings. He played 46-balls hitting two sixes and three fours and got an able ally in Agarkar.

Royals, playing without Graeme Smith, again cracked at the top with Knight Riders churning out their best bowling performance bolstered by the inclusion of South African Charl Langeveldt (3-15), who surprisingly made his debut in their last league match.

There was high drama in the first over with Rajasthan Royals opener Naman Ojha (22) hitting Brad Hodge for three sixes to plunder 22 runs after being dropped on the second ball.

Ojha swept Hodge for a six over square leg in the first ball of the innings and skied while attempting the same stroke, only to be dropped by David Hussey. He then hit two more sixes in the same over.

Hopes of a high scoring match was soon dashed as Langeveldt dismissed Rob Quiney in the second over and then ended Ojha’s 12-ball cameo to reduce Rajasthan to 3-28.

Knight Riders got hold of the situation with some tight bowling and effected three run-outs.

Royals lost wickets in heaps and Warne’s 18 took them past the 100-mark.

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