Game of thrones: Chennai Super Kings oust Kings XI Punjab

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Chennai Super Kings cruised to a nine-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab behind an unbeaten 62 from Ruturaj Gaikwad in cricket’s Indian Premier League on Sunday.

The defeat put an end to Punjab’s playoff hopes. Chennai was already out of contention.

Kolkata Knight Riders kept their hopes alive after thrashing Rajasthan Royals by 60 runs.

Gaikwad was named man of the match for his efforts in leading Chennai to 154-1 in response to Punjab’s 153-6 with seven balls to spare.

Faf du Plessis contributed 48 from 34 balls to the successful chase before succumbing to Chris Jordan. Ambati Rayudu finished with 30 not out from 30 balls. Gaikwad hit six fours and one six in his 49-ball innings.

Put into bat, Punjab’s blushes were saved by Deepak Hooda who came in at No. 6 and smashed 62 not out from 30 balls after the top half of the order gave up regular wickets.

Openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal failed to get out of the twenties, falling to pacer Lungi Ngidi for 29 and 26, respectively. Ngidi was the pick of the Chennai bowlers and finished with figures of 3-39 in four overs.

Chris Gayle (12), Nicholas Pooran (2), Mandeep Singh (14) and James Neesham (2) went even more cheaply before Hooda’s strong turn.

Both Punjab and Chennai ended their tournament on 12 points.

“It is disappointing,” Punjab captain Rahul said. “We had a lot of games in our pockets and we couldn’t get over the line and we only have ourselves to blame.”

The top four teams advance to the playoffs. Defending champion Mumbai Indians has already clinched the No. 1 spot.

In Sunday’s other game, Rajasthan won the toss at Dubai and chose to field.

That decision backfired when Kolkata smashed 191-7 with England white-ball specialist Eoin Morgan hitting an undefeated 68 off 35 balls, including six sixes and five boundaries. Leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia claimed 3-25 in his four overs and pacer Jofra Archer an economical 1-19.

In reply, Rajasthan struggled to 131-9 in its 20 overs, Jos Buttler top-scoring with a 22-ball 35. Australian pacer Pat Cummins took 4-34, while seamer Shivam Mavi ended with 2-15 off four overs which included a maiden.

“I don’t think we could have done any more today,” Morgan said. “Whatever happens from here on is in the hands of cricketing gods.”

Kolkata has 14 points from its 14 matches and improved its net run rate but the team’s fate depends on remaining games — Delhi Capitals versus Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday, and Sunrisers Hyderabad against Mumbai on Tuesday.

Rajasthan can’t advance to the playoffs.

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