Kolkata Knight Riders became the third team to make the Indian Premier League play-offs on a day when Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore bowed out of the Twenty20 tournament.
Australia’s Chris Lynn helped Kolkata outplay table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets on Saturday to finish the league stage with eight wins in 14 games.
Lynn’s 43-ball 55 helped two-time champions Kolkata chase down their 173-run target in 19.4 overs at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
“At the end of the day, we strive for a playoff spot,” skipper Dinesh Karthik said after the win.
“It’s good to see we are pulling back games. Touch wood, I’d like to think we’re peaking at the right time. Feels good to be here (in the top four).”
In the first weekend game, Bangalore suffered a 30-run loss — their eighth defeat in 14 games — against Rajasthan Royals, who are still in the race for the final-four.
Chasing 165 for victory, Bangalore were bowled out for 134 despite a gritty 53 from AB de Villiers, who ended the tournament with 480 runs, including six half-centuries.
Kohli, who amassed 530 runs in 14 matches, slammed his team’s middle-order.
“We wanted to strengthen the middle-order which hasn’t happened, it hasn’t been our strength and we need to do that going into the next few seasons,” Kohli said of his side which has not won the IPL since its inception in 2008.
“The responsibility cannot be taken up only by AB all the time. He certainly scored runs, but others need to contribute around him, and didn’t show enough composure,” he added.
Mumbai Indians need a win against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday to edge out the Royals in the playoff race.
The play-offs will begin Tuesday with the first qualifier in Mumbai. The IPL final is on May 27 with four million dollars going to the winner.