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IANS

Rinku Singh's sensational fighting knock went in vain as an excellent century by Quinton de Kock and impactful bowling of Mohsin Khan (3/20), Marcus Stoinis (3/23) led Lucknow Super Giants to two-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in a thrilling 66th match of the IPL 2022 at the Dr DY Patil Stadium, here on Wednesday.

With this win, Lucknow qualified for the playoffs after getting 18 points in their 14 league matches. They joined Gujarat Titans, who had become the first team to reach the playoffs in the ongoing season.

On the other hand, Kolkata were eliminated from the playoffs race after finishing the league stages with 12 points from 14 matches. They joined defending champions Chennai Super Kings and five-time champions Mumbai Indians, who have already been eliminated from the playoffs hunt.

A historic hundred by Quinton de Kock (140 not out off 70) and a solid fifty by KL Rahul (68 not out off 51) powered Lucknow Super Giants to 210/0 in 20 overs, after winning the toss and opting to bat first. Both De Kock and Rahul remained not out till the last ball of the innings, didn't show any mercy on KKK bowlers and broke many records during the process.

Notably, it was for the first time a team batted the entire 20 overs in IPL without losing a wicket. It was also the highest opening stand ever in IPL history and the third highest partnership for any wicket in the cash-rich league.

Chasing a mammoth total, KKR were off to a poor start as their openers got out cheaply. Venkatesh Iyer bagged a four-ball duck while Tomar's debut with the bat lasted just eight balls where he scored four.

However, Nitish Rana was in a dismissive mood. Avesh Khan leaked 21 in the fourth over against Rana while Jason Holder was clobbered for 4, 6 and 4 in the next over. K Gowtham too was taken for three boundaries as KKR ended the powerplay at 60 for 2.

Rana eventually fell to Gowtham for 42 off 22 in the first ball of the 8th over but Shreyas Iyer and Sam Billings had other plans. Both KKR batters batted with aggressive approach and took their team to 99 for 2 at the halfway mark. Their positive intent also put pressure on LSG bowlers as Ravi Bishnoi leaked 16 in the 11th with Holder was taken for 10 in the 12th.

At 125 for 3, KKR were in with a huge chance to dent LSG's hopes and Rahul was left with no choice but to turn to Mohsin Khan, their best bowler on the night. The left-arm pacer helped his side make a remarkable comeback by giving away just two in the 13th over and that led to Shreyas (50 off 29) falling in the next over as the pressure mounted. A wicket gave Avesh the opportunity to stage a recovery - giving away just two against Russell in the 15th over.

At one stage, KKR needed 77 off 30 and they looked clearly out of the race to make it to the playoffs. Billings was stumped in the 16th while Russell struggled his way to 5 off 11 before getting out in the 17th as KKR were crumbling under the pressure. But, it wasn't as straightforward as LSG would have wanted as lower down the order, Rinku Singh (40 off 15) and Sunil Narine (21 not out off 7) showed the fighting spirit. With 38 needed off 12, Holder was taken for 17 by Rinku and Narine to leave 21 for the final over.

Rinku hit Marcus Stoinis for 4, 6, 6 in the first three balls and took a double on the fourth delivery of the last over as KKR needed 5 runs in 3 balls. However, in the fifth ball of the over, Rinku got out courtesy of a spectacular one-handed catch by Evin Lewis while diving across to his left. With three runs needed off the last ball, Stoinis clean bowled Umesh Yadav and sealed a thrilling two-run win and playoff spot for LSG.

Mohsin Khan (3/20), Marcus Stoinis (3/23) were the most successful bowlers for Lucknow while Krishnappa Gowtham (1/23) and Ravi Bishnoi (1/34) also picked one wicket each.

Earlier, openers Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul gave Lucknow a steady start by scoring 44/0 in the powerplay. De Cock, who was dropped at third man by debutant Abhishek Tomar off Umesh Yadav in the 3rd over of the innings, was the aggressor while KL Rahul was playing the second fiddle.

After the end of powerplay, KKR openers Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy bowled with discipline and didn't allow LSG batters to open their arms, conceding just 13 runs in next two overs.

Thereafter, KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer introduced Andre Russell into the attack and the batter dealt him by rotating the strike before De Kock launched the bowler for a six towards the long-on fence. On the other hand, Rahul also shifted gears and smashed Tim Southee for back to back sixers, taking Lucknow to 83/0 after 10 overs.

During the process, Rahul also crossed his 500 runs for the season. He became the second player to do so in five successive editions after Warner who did so in six.

With both Rahul and De Kock going strong against fast bowlers, Shreyas was forced to rely on his spinners as Nitish Rana, Chakravarthy and Narine bowled the next three overs. However, the move didn't reap any dividends as De Kock KL Rahul continued the attacking approach and brought up the 100-run partnership in the 13th over of the innings.

Heading into the final five overs, De Kock turned on the screws and smashed Chakravarthy for two sixes and a four in an 18-run over while racing into the 80s while Rahul hit Southee as LSG were racing towards a big total. Soon, De Kock, who was dictating the proceedings in the middle, slammed Andre Russell for a six and four to bring up his century off just 59 balls.

With only two overs to go, both LSG batters dealt in sixes. The Lucknow skipper welcomed Southee with a six and then passed the strike to De Kock, who hit the pacer for three consecutive sixes as Kiwi bowler conceded 27 runs in the 19th over. The Quinton de Kock show also continued in the final over as he hit Andre Russell for four consecutive boundaries, took 19 runs off the over and helped Lucknow Super Giants post 210/0 on the board.

Tim Southee (0/57) was the most expensive bowler for KKR while the likes of Andre Russell (0/45) and Varun Chakaravarthy (0/38) were also not far behind in conceding runs.

Brief scores: Lucknow Super Giants 210/0 in 20 Overs (Quinton de Kock 140 not out, KL Rahul 68 not out) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 208/8 in 20 Overs (Shreyas Iyer 50, Nitish Rana 42, Rinku Singh 40; Mohsin Khan 3/20) by 2 runs.

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