Chennai Super Kings might have down and out but they are not finished yet. Playing for pride now after being out of contention for a place in the playoffs, they can damage the chances of other teams.
On Thursday, CSK did exactly that by edging past Kolkata Knight Riders by six wickets in a thrilling match of the Dream11 Indian Premier League which went to the wire at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Ravindra Jadeja emerged as the hero for CSK as they registered a come-from-behind victory on the last ball of the match while chasing a challenging target of 173.
Jadeja came up with a stunning innings of 31 not out off mere 11 balls to shatter the hopes of KKR, who now slipped to the fifth spot with 12 points from 13 games.
After Pat Cummins conceded just four runs in the 18th over, KKR appeared to have sealed the match in their favour. However, the penultimate over bowled by Lockie Ferguson became the turning point as Jadeja blasted him to all over the park.
Defending 10 runs in the last over was expecting too much from Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The young pacer did quite well on the first four balls but conceded sixes off the final couple of deliveries as Jadeja stamped his authority in style.
The platform of CSKâ€™s fifth win was laid by Ruturaj Gaikwad. The opener struck back-to-back half-centuries even as wickets fell at the other end. The 23-year-old Gaikwadâ€™s 72 came off 53 balls and laced with six fours and two sixes.
Gaikwad, who hails from Maharashtra, was involved in a fruitful 68-run partnership with Ambati Rayudu (38: 20 balls, 5×4, 1×6).
However, Rayudu played an unnecessary shot at that moment followed by MS Dhoniâ€™s early dismissal titled the match in KKRâ€™s favour.
Jadeja had the last laugh as he snatched the win from the jaws of defeat. KKR will have to do something extraordinary in their last match and expect other results in their favour to clinch a berth in the top-4.
Earlier, overcoming the inconsistency with the bat, Nitish Rana delivered when his team needed it the most. The left-handed opening batsman smashed 87 runs to help KKR post a strong total of 172 for 5.
CSK skipper Dhoni won the toss and decided to field first. Rana posted his highest ever IPL score at the top of the order. The aggressive southpaw was slow to start with but picked up the pace as the match progressed. Rana got to his 50 off 44 balls, but then unleashed on Chennai Super Kingsâ€™ spinners, who had till then bogged down the KKR top order batsmen.
The Delhi-based Ranaâ€™s 87 came off 61 balls which was studded with ten boundaries and four maximums, three of them came off successive balls from leg-spinner Karn Sharma.
The 27-year-old Rana and Shubman Gill (26: 17 balls, 4×4) provided a solid start to KKR by adding 53 runs for the opening wicket.
Skipper Eoin Morgan (15) and Rinku Singh (11) got starts but could not capitalise on them. The total was boosted by a little late cameo by Dinesh Karthik. The former captain belted an unbeaten 21 and helped KKR provide a strong finish. Karthik faced just 10 balls and hammered three fours.
Medium-pacer Lungi Ngidi bowled well to return with 2 for 34, while Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner and Karn Sharma chipped in with a wicket apiece.
Earlier in the first leg, the sides had squared off in Abu Dhabi on October 7 in which KKR surprised CSK by 10 runs, thanks to Rahul Tripathiâ€™s 81.
On Friday, Kings XI Punjab (12 points) will take on Rajasthan Royals (10 points) in another crucial match at Abu Dhabi.
Kolkata Knight Riders 172 for 5 in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 87, Shubman Gill 26, Dinesh Karthik 21 not out, Eoin Morgan 15, Rinku Singh 11; Lungi Ngidi 2-34, Ravindra Jadeja 1-20, Mitchell Santner 1-30, Karn Sharma 1-35) lost to Chennai Super Kings 178 for 4 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 72, Ambati Rayudu 38, Ravindra Jadeja 31 not out, Shane Watson 14, Sam Curran 13 not out; Varun Chakravarthy 2-20, Pat Cummings 2-31) by six wickets.
Man-of-the-match: Ruturaj Gaikwad (CSK).