|| AFP ||
Andre Russell's blazing 42 and a finishing act by Rinku Singh kept Kolkata Knight Riders in the hunt for the IPL play-offs with a tense final-ball win over Punjab Kings on Monday.
Kolkata looked in trouble at 124-4 while chasing 180 for victory when Russell and Rinku, who hit an unbeaten 21 off 10 balls, put on a destructive partnership of 54 to win by five wickets at their home Eden Gardens.
Russell smashed three sixes off England left-arm quick Sam Curran in the 19th over but got run out on the penultimate delivery with Kolkata needing two off the final ball.
The left-handed Rinku, who smashed five sixes on the final five balls in a match-winning knock for Kolkata last month to become an IPL sensation, hit the winning boundary off Arshdeep Singh.
"I didn't think about the last ball. Even when I hit those five sixes, I hadn't thought much," said an elated Rinku.
"I was playing on the merit of the ball. I had the belief in me that I could finish the game."
Man of the match Russell said, "When I have Rinku at the other end I am not worried. I have confidence in him. I get goosebumps when I see what he is doing now. I have company at the backend."
Kolkata jumped from eight to five in the 10-team table led by holders Gujarat Titans as teams jostle for the final four spots to make the play-offs.
Skipper Nitish Rana set up the chase with his 51 after England's Jason Roy, who came in as an impact player, gave the home team a solid start with his 38 off 24 balls but a few wickets set Kolkata back.
But the Russell-Rinku combination tore into the opposition attack as Kolkata hammered 53 runs in the final four overs to pocket their fifth win in 11 matches.
Spinner Varun Chakravarthy set up victory with bowling figures of 3-26 including the key wicket of Liam Livingstone, lbw for 15, as Punjab finished on 179-7.
Skipper Shikhar Dhawan's 57 and late cameos boosted Punjab's total with 36 runs from the last two overs, but the effort was not enough.
Fast bowler Harshit Rana provided the early breakthroughs including Sri Lanka's Bhanuka Rajapaksa for a duck.
Chakravarthy and Suyash, who got Punjab's big buy Curran caught behind four, combined to choke the flow of runs with their leg spin.
The left-handed Dhawan attempted to keep up the charge despite getting little support from the other end as he reached his third fifty of the season before departing in the 15th over.