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IPL: Kolkata Knight Riders all-but clinch play-off spot with crushing win over Rajasthan Royals

Kolkata Knight Riders beat Rajasthan Royals by 86 runs to all-but seal the final IPL play-off spot; Shubman Gill hit 56 as KKR posted 171-4 before Shivam Mavi (4-21) and Lockie Ferguson (3-18) help roll Royals for 86; Mumbai Indians need to beat Sunrisers by 171 runs to snatch fourth

Lockie Ferguson, KKR, IPL
Image: Lockie Ferguson bowled superbly as Kolkata bowled Rajasthan out for 86 to - barring a miracle for Mumbai - clinch a play-off place

Kolkata Knight Riders all-but secured the final Indian Premier League play-off berth with a crushing 86-run win over Rajasthan Royals at Sharjah.

A half-century from opener Shubman Gill (56 from 44 balls) helped KKR post 171-4, the highest score at the ground so far in the tournament, before Lockie Ferguson (3-18) and Shivam Mavi (4-21) helped Eoin Morgan's side skittle the Royals for 86.

It could have been worse for Rajasthan, who slipped to 13-4 and 35-7, but for Rahul Tewatia. The all-rounder thumped 44 from 36 balls but was the last wicket to fall, bowled by Mavi in the 17th over as Kolkata completed an emphatic victory.

KKR's place in the top four is not yet mathematically confirmed but the manner of their win means that defending champions Mumbai Indians need to score at least 250 and then beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 171 runs or more on Friday to displace them, a nigh-on impossible task.

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After losing the toss and being asked to bat, Kolkata openers Gill and Venkatesh Iyer laid the foundations for victory with a first-wicket stand of 79 to put their side on course for a highly competitive total.

Gill smashed left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya back of his head for six in the fifth over but the KKR plan early in the innings seemed to involve minimising risk and keeping wickets in hand - and it could hardly have worked out better.

Gill and Iyer were able to move through the gears until the latter was bowled through his legs by Tewatia in the 11th over and, with a strong platform set by the top two, the incoming batters had the license to go all-out attack from ball one.

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Nitish Rana lasted just five balls but added 12 runs in that time, while Gill was still going strong and brought up his fifty from 40 balls before being dismissed by Chris Morris.

Rahul Tripathi (21 from 14) kept the runs coming with three boundaries and while Rajasthan did manage to drag things back slightly in the closing over, Dinesh Karthik (14no from 11) and Morgan (13no from 11) each cleared the ropes to see KKR to a position of strength at the halfway stage.

A decent surface for batting meant that the Royals were still in the game as they began their chase but that was not the case for long,

Shakib Al Hasan bowled Yashasvi Jaiswal for a three-ball duck in the first over, Mavi had Sanju Samson (1) caught in the next and when Ferguson accounted for Liam Livingstone (6) - caught in the deep - and Anuj Rawat - plumb lbw, first ball - the Royals were 13-4.

Mavi proceeded to bowl Shivam Dube (18 from 20) and Glenn Phillips (8) in the eighth over to make it 34-6 and Rajasthan had added only one more run before Morris was trapped lbw by Varun Chakravarthy (1-14).

Tewatia had nothing to lose and went on the offensive with a flurry of boundaries coming in the next couple of overs.

However, Ferguson came back to remove Jaydev Unadkat (6) and, left with the tail, Tewatia opted to farm the strike while still continuing his big-hitting approach.

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It was in looking for two that Tewatia rather sold Sakariya a dummy, the Rajasthan No 10 run out following a late decision to turn down the run by the senior batter and a bullet throw from Shakib in the deep.

Tewatia himself fell to the first ball of the next over, dragging Mavi's delivery back onto the stumps, to end the Royals' misery and leave Mumbai needing the most remarkable of victories on Friday to deny Kolkata a place in the Eliminator.

Watch Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Mumbai Indians in the IPL from 10.50am, Friday on Sky Sports Cricket before Royal Challengers Bangalore face Delhi Capitals from 2.50pm on the same channel.

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