IPL 2024: KKR first team to seal playoffs spot

KKR players celebrate a wicket. Photo: X@IPL

Kolkata: Spin twins Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy derailed Mumbai Indians (MI) after a strong start as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)  became the first team to seal a playoffs berth with an 18-run win in a rain-curtailed IPL match here on Saturday.

Venkatesh Iyer stood out with a 21-ball 42 before a disciplined MI bowling unit restricted KKR to 157/7 after a one-hour, thirty-minute delay reduced it to a 16 overs-a-side contest.

Already out of the playoffs race, five-time champions MI cruised to 65/0 in 6.4 overs before KKR's star spinner Narine triggered the collapse, halting Ishan Kishan's (40 off 22 balls) explosive start.

With Chakravarthy taking 2/17 and Russell picking 2/34, KKR sent half the Mumbai side packing inside 13 overs, before restricting them to 139/8 in the stipulated 16 overs.

Harshit Rana (2/34) also picked two wickets, while Narine had figures of 1/21 while taking the crucial wicket of Kishan.

Two-time winners KKR thus sealed their last-four berth with two rounds to spare, consolidating their place atop the 10-team standing with 18 points. This is for the first time since 2021 that KKR have made the playoffs.

KKR will now look to push for a top-two finish, taking on Gujarat Titans on Monday and Royal Challengers Bengaluru on May 19 in their last two league matches.

For Mumbai, this was their ninth loss in 13 matches and they will end their campaign against Lucknow Super Giants on May 17.

Mumbai's diminutive left-handed opener Kishan went all guns blazing with five fours and two sixes and switched-hit Narine for a boundary. But Narine had the last laugh and dismissed the destructive Kishan.

Narine deceived Kishan with a seam-up delivery as the left hander holed out to midwicket for KKR's first breakthrough.

Chakravarthy ended Rohit's forgettable stint at the crease in the next over and finished his four-over spell by dismissing MI skipper Hardik Pandya.

Coming in as an impact player, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma's patchy run of form continued as he looked out of sorts.

Rohit was going run-a-ball in his scratchy knock, but that was not a problem for MI as Kishan took the attack to the KKR camp with his flat-batted approach.

The left-hander smashed Harshit Rana for two fours and one six, and then took on Narine with successive fours and a six.

MI were well on course with 59/0 in five overs with a required run-rate of exactly nine runs per over at that stage. But then, KKR's spin duo plotted MI's downfall.

Earlier, on a tacky wicket that remained under covers for three days owing to persistent rain in the city, KKR lost their openers -- Phil Salt (6) and Narine (0) -- in seven balls.

Venkatesh Iyer in action. Photo: PTI/Swapan Mahapatra

Battling a strained hamstring, Venkatesh Iyer lifted KKR after their worst start of the season with his counter-attacking knock after MI won a good toss following a late start because of rain.

The highlight of the left-hander's innings was the way he hit Jasprit Bumrah for a six and two fours.

Having missed their last 10 matches because of a finger injury, Nitish Rana made a 23-ball 33 during a key partnership with Iyer before getting run out.

Nuwan Thushara
Nuwan Thushara, centre, celebrates the wicket of Phil Salt. Photo: PTI/Swapan Mahapatra

But Mumbai bounced back well with leg-spinner Piyush Chawla returning figures of 2/38 from his three overs, taking the two key wickets of Iyer and Andre Russell (24 off 14 balls; 2x4, 2x6).

Bumrah (2/39 from four overs) dismissed Rinku Singh for a 12-ball 20.

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