FILE PHOTO: Avesh Khan (Photo by Pal Pillai/Getty Images for Nissan)
FAST BOWLER Avesh Khan helped Lucknow Super Giants hammer Kolkata Knight Riders by 75 runs on Saturday (7) to go top of the IPL table as teams jostle to secure a play-off spot.
Lucknow bundled out Kolkata, who were chasing 177 for victory, for 101 to replace fellow newcomers Gujarat Titans at the summit, with the Twenty20 tournament moving towards its business end.
In the first match of the day, Rajasthan Royals beat Punjab Kings by six wickets to improve their chances of making the final four.
The result meant five-time winners Mumbai Indians crashed out of the play-off race after eight losses in 10 matches.
Quinton de Kock, who made a 29-ball 50, and Deepak Hooda, who hit 41 off 27 deliveries, put on 71 runs to lay the foundation of Lucknow’s 176 for seven after being put in to bat first in Pune.
Kolkata were never in the chase after they lost their top four including skipper Shreyas Iyer, for six, and Aaron Finch, for 14, early. They fell to 25-4.
“Having skill is good, but bowling well under pressure and being brave, trusting the best ball on the wicket without being worried about who’s playing makes our bowling unit commendable,” sai Lucknow skipper KL Rahul.
“I can’t think of any game where we’ve had a complete performance, and no team will find the perfect performance. We are sticking to our plans and winning which is great.”
Russell gave hope
West Indies big-hitter Andre Russell gave them some hope during his 19-ball 45 but the innings fell apart after his departure.
Russell attempted to turn the tide with three fours and five sixes but was caught at third-man off Avesh who finished with figures of 3-19.
West Indies’ Jason Holder wrapped up the Kolkata innings with two successive wickets and a runout.
The left-right batting pair of De Kock and Hooda set up victory after they took the attack to the opposition bowlers following Rahul’s run out for nought in the first over.
Marcus Stoinis, who hammered 28 off 14, and Holder, who made a four-ball 13, also added to the total with their breezy cameos and hit five sixes between them in a 30-run over from Shivam Mavi.
Earlier in Mumbai, Yashasvi Jaiswal’s 41-ball 68 lay the foundation for the Royals’ chase of 190 before West Indies’ Shimron Hetmyer steered the team home with two balls to spare in a tense finish.
Left-handed Hetmyer smashed three fours and two sixes in his 16-ball 31 not out to ensure the Royals bounced back from two straight losses and stayed third.
“It’s very obvious to think about the points table so when things get busy, we need to keep on coming back to the basics which is focusing on one game at a time and just looking at the controllables,” said Royals skipper Sanju Samson.
“Let’s see where we end up at the end of the league stage.”
England’s Jonny Bairstow made 56 — his first fifty of the season — to guide Punjab to 189 for five after electing to bat first on another hot afternoon.
The IPL qualifiers begin on May 24 and the final is on May 29 in Ahmedabad.