Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders kept alive their play-off hopes with a thumping 60-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
The Royals, who have England’s Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Tom Curran in their squad, are now unable to reach the play-offs.
Kings XI Punjab’s play-off hopes were ended by a nine-wicket defeat by Chennai Super Kings earlier on Sunday.
Mumbai Indians are the only team to have secured a play-off spot.
The victory does not guarantee KKR a place in the play-offs, however a significant defeat for either Royal Challengers Bangalore or Delhi Capitals on Monday will mean Kolkata progress regardless of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s result on Tuesday.
Morgan and Cummins star for KKR
After being put into bat, KKR lost wickets at regular intervals but posted 191-7, largely thanks to Morgan’s 35-ball 68, which included six sixes.
Morgan shared 45 with Andre Russell (25 off 11) and 40 with Pat Cummins (15 off 11) as KKR accelerated at the end of their innings.
Knowing they needed to win by a big margin to boost their net run-rate and improve their play-off chances, Rajasthan hit 19 off Cummins’ first five balls before slipping to 37-5 during the powerplay.
Cummins responded superbly, finishing with figures of 4-34 including the key wickets of Stokes and Australian team-mate Steve Smith.
The Royals never recovered from their terrible start, falling well short of their target, and the adverse affect on their run-rate means they finish bottom of the table for the first time.
Stokes finished the tournament with 285 runs in eight games, while Buttler scored 328 runs and Archer took 20 wickets.
All three could be involved in England’s white-ball tour of South Africa, which starts on 27 November. Although with England due to fly out – ahead of quarantining for the tour – on 16 November, all three may be rested with head coach Chris Silverwood already warning about player burnout.
Chennai end Kings XI hopes
Kings XI Punjab, who have England bowler Chris Jordan in their squad, were on course for a play-off spot after five consecutive wins but defeats by Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings in their final two group games mean they finish with six wins from their 14 matches.
After being put in to bat they posted 153-6 from their 20 overs, with Deepak Hooda top-scoring with 62 from 30 balls.
Their overseas stars failed to shine with West Indies batsman Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran only scoring 12 and two respectively, while New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham could also only add two.
In reply, CSK reached the target with seven balls to spare. Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, 23, finished unbeaten on 62 after sharing 82 with South Africa’s Faf du Plessis for the opening wicket and then 72 with Ambati Rayudu.
Despite the comprehensive victory, it is CSK’s worst IPL season as they have failed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time after winning just six of their 14 group matches.
England all-rounder Sam Curran finished the tournament with 13 wickets and 186 runs, while Jordan took nine wickets in nine matches.
Dhoni to play for CSK next season
In August India wicketkeeper MS Dhoni announced his retirement on Instagram, saying: “Thanks a lot for your love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as retired.”
At the time it was unclear if the 39-year-old would play in this season’s IPL but Indian media soon reported he definitely would.
Before Sunday’s game, he confirmed he would play for Chennai Super Kings, who have won three IPL titles under his leadership, next season, giving a prompt “definitely not” when asked if it would be the last time he played for the franchise.
Dhoni scored 200 runs at an average of 25.00 in this year’s tournament. (BBC)