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Delhi's IPL playoff berth delayed by loss to Kolkata

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SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Delhi Capitals was delayed from claiming a playoff berth in the Indian Premier League after losing to Kolkata Knight Riders by three wickets on Tuesday.

Delhi could have advanced with a win and remained second overall. Kolkata was fourth after a third win in its last four games. Both teams have three games remaining.

Later, Mumbai Indians also joined the race for the playoffs with a six-wicket victory over Punjab Kings. Mumbai has 10 points after 11 games but is just behind Kolkata on net run-rate.

Kolkata skipper Eoin Morgan read the slow pitch well after winning the toss and Delhi was restricted to 127-9. Spinners Sunil Narine (2-18) and Venkatesh Iyer (2-29) led the attack.

Kolkata won by reaching 130-7 in 18.2 overs. Nitish Rana made an unbeaten 37 off 27 balls, but it was the lower order which starred, especially Sunil Narine, who took 21 runs from one Kagiso Rabada over.

“Winning the toss and fielding is not an easy thing to do, (but) the guys were more calculated today and it came off,” Morgan said. “Full credit has to go to our coach Brendon McCullum. It’s his ethos, his mindset, and the boys have bought into that.”

Young Delhi fast bowler Avesh Khan continued a dream IPL debut by taking 3-13 and raising his wickets tally to 18.

Ravichandran Ashwin got the key wicket of Morgan without scoring, and when Dinesh Karthik played onto Khan in the 15th over, Kolkata slipped to 96-5.

But Narine smashed two sixes and a four against Rabada in the next over and ripped the game from Delhi’s grasp.

Tournament top run-scorer Shikhar Dhawan hit five crisp boundaries among 24 runs for Delhi before falling to Lockie Ferguson at point in the batting powerplay.

Steven Smith returned to the side but labored for 34 deliveries in scoring 39 before he was clean bowled by Ferguson.

Rishabh Pant also struggled to accelerate, hitting just three boundaries in his 36-ball 39 as Narine and Iyer strangled Delhi with their spin.

At Dubai, the experience of West Indies Kieron Pollard (15) and Hardik Pandya rescued Mumbai with a 45-run partnership off 23 balls as the team reached 137-4 with an over to spare.

Hardik’s dropped catch on 7 cost Punjab the game, as he remained unbeaten on 40 off 30 balls and finished the game with a six over long-on off Muhammed Shami.

Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi’s (2-25) twin strike in the batting powerplay and later top-scorer Saurabh Tiwari’s (45) wicket in the 16th over gave Punjab a sniff before Hardik and Pollard sealed the game for Mumbai.

Earlier, after being put in to bat, Punjab struggled to 135-6 against the likes of Jasprit Bumrah (2-24) and Pollard, who picked up the key wickets of Chris Gayle and captain Lokesh Rahul in his only over as Punjab limped to 48-4 in the eighth over.

South African Aiden Markram (42) and Deepak Hooda (28) featured in a 61-run stand, but the total always looked within sight of the defending champions.

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