Kolkata knock Rajasthan out

DURBAN: Laxmi Ratan Shukla hit a vital 48 not out as Kolkata Knight Riders knocked defending champions Rajasthan Royals out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a four-wicket win here today.

Kolkata were tottering at 45-6 chasing a modest 102-run target before Shukla steered his team home with a 57-run stand for the unfinished seventh wicket with Ajit Agarkar (13 not out). Man-of-the-match Shukla smashed two sixes and three fours in his 46-ball knock.

Shane Warne’s Rajasthan failed to qualify for the semi-finals, finishing their league with 13 points from 14 matches. Kolkata finished last with seven points. Delhi lead the eight-team tournament with 18 points from 13 games, followed by Chennai (15/13), Deccan (14/13), Bangalore (14/13), Punjab (14/13), Rajasthan (13/14), Mumbai (11/13) and Kolkata (7/14). The top four sides advance to the semi-finals.

South African fast bowler Charl Langeveldt earlier played a key role in restricting Rajasthan to a small total, finishing with 3-15 in his only match of the tournament. He was backed by Indian seamer Agarkar, who grabbed 2-15. Naman Ojha top-scored for Rajasthan with 22.

On Tuesday, Jacques Kallis struck an unbeaten 58 and took a key wicket as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat leaders Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets to stay in the IPL title hunt.

The South African batted throughout the 19-over Bangalore innings as they reached 135-3 in reply to 134-7 of Delhi, who are sure to finish first with one round of group fixtures left. But below them the stage is set for a thrilling climax to the round-robin phase of the Twenty20 extravaganza with four franchises chasing three semi-finals places.

While many in the team dug-outs at the Wanderers used blankets to fend off the autumn chill, a good crowd turned up at one of the homes of South African cricket and were treated to a tense struggle until the final few overs. Winning skipper and India legend Anil Kumble claimed he is not even checking the standings traffic-jam, but concentrating on masterminding another win when they face Deccan on Thursday. “I’m taking this tournament one game at a time and not looking at the table. All I’m thinking about is how to win the next match which would guarantee us a place in the semi-finals.”

Kallis said his role was critical: “In big games senior players must come through and I knew that someone had to stay at the crease for the innings. After a run of four losses, the hunger for success is back in the team.”

Delhi captain Virender Sehwag offered no excuses after only their fourth loss in 13 outings:

“Perhaps the boys were a little relaxed knowing that we were through, but there is nothing for us to worry about.”


Indian Premier League standing

TEAM    P    W    L    N/R    Pts    RR

Delhi Daredevils    13    9    4    0    18    +0.251

Chennai Super Kings    13    7    5    1    15    +0.932

Deccan Chargers    13    7    6    0    14    +0.265

Bangalore RC    13    7    6    0    14    -0.253

Kings XI Punjab    13    7    6    0    14    -0.423

Rajasthan Royals    14    6    7    1    13    -0.352

Mumbai Indians    13    5    7    1    11    +0.401

Kolkata Knight Riders    14    3    10    1    7    -0.789