KL Rahul breathed life into Punjab Kings’ faint hopes of making it to the Indian Premier League playoffs with an extraordinary assault on Chennai Super Kings.
The Punjab captain blazed eight sixes in an innings worth 98 not out from just 42 balls at the Dubai International Stadium.
His effort hurried Punjab to a six-wicket win over Chennai with 42 balls remaining, which lifts them to fifth place in the table.
The nature of the win had a major impact on Punjab’s net run rate for the competition, lifting it to -0.001.
Kolkata Knight Riders can render that statistic redundant by beating Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah, in the second game of the day on Thursday.
That would take Kolkata to 14 points and consolidate their position in fourth, while Punjab, who have completed their 14 matches, have 12 points.
Even a narrow defeat to Rajasthan in the late game would be enough to leave Kolkata ahead of the rest on run-rate, in the race for the fourth spot in the knockout phase.
Kolkata’s run-rate ahead of that game is 0.294 which is superior to both Punjab and Rajasthan (-0.737).
Defending champions Mumbai Indians still pose a threat. They complete their fixtures on Friday when they face Sunrisers Hyderabad. They will start that game on 12 points, with a run rate of -0.048.
“The plan was simple,” Rahul said. “The numbers guys told us a few permutations and combinations. We wanted to score it [their victory target was 135] before 14 overs.
“It was just one of those days when it comes off. I had complete clarity of what I wanted to do. I feel like I may end up letting the team down if I play how I want to play. But today, this was how I needed to play.”