Kolkata:Yusuf Pathan didn't just send balls sailing out of the park, he has also effectively hit Kolkata Knight Riders out of the Indian Premier League.
Rajasthan Royals were in trouble at 69-4 chasing Kolkata's 147. But Pathan smashed 48 from 18 balls, with three sixes and five fours, and knocked off the remaining runs with ease in the company of Mohammad Kaif, who made 34.
It was a must-win match for Kolkata, who were asked to bat by Shane Warne. Their innings lacked momentum from the beginning, and they ended up with an ordinary score.
Having batted ordinarily, Kolkata needed to take all chances coming their way. Instead, they botched at least three run out chances, and with them, the game.
The game briefly turned on its head when Umar Gul removed pinch hitter Sohail Tanvir and opener Graeme Smith in a double-wicket maiden.
Gul had been brought in for the Shoaib Akhtar, and he made his presence felt. A few overs later, Sourav Ganguly brought himself on and continued his fine form by dismissing the dangerous Shane Watson.
There on, Pathan and Kaif took care of the mounting run rate with ease. Pathan clobbered Ganguly for two very long sixes over mid-on to correct Rajasthan's course. The duo added 81 in less than seven overs to take their team home.
Earlier in the day, Munaf Patel with his two early strikes, and then Sohail Tanvir with three wickets in the dying stages, kept Kolkata under check.
Munaf removed Mohammad Hafeez, who had been sent out as a pinch hitter, caught at mid on.
Munaf then trapped the dangerous Salman Butt leg before for 24.
Kolkata lost wickets at regular junctures, with their captain Ganguly top-scoring with 32. The innings was headed nowhere when Ganguly fell at 95-4 in the 15th over.
Debabrata Das's 31 from 20 balls provided some impetus to the Kolkata innings before he was stopped in his tracks by a toe-crunching yorker from Tanvir.
Kolkata have two games left - one, an away game against Delhi, and a home game against Mohali. They cannot lose either, and need four points to move to 14 point. It gives them an outside chance of qualification, but doesn't guarantee it.