The self-destructing batters let Sunrisers Hyderabad down again to hand a Kolkata Knight Riders a much needed five-run win in the IPL here on Thursday, keeping the Nitish Rana-led side alive in the tournament.
Rana and Rinku Singh came up with a fruitful 61-run partnership to help KKR post 171 for nine and then their bowlers, especially Shardul Thakur (2/23) and Vaibhav Arora (2/32), helped the two-time IPL champions limit Sunrisers Hyderabad to 166 for eight in 20 overs.
Varun Chakaravarthy bowled a brilliant 20th over to eke out a welcome win for his team.
KKR sneak fourth win in IPL 2023
KKR earned their fourth victory of the season and are now on eight points, while SRH, who remained stranded on six points, suffered a huge body blow to their chances of making the playoffs.
The victory was hard-fought for KKR, given that SRH's South African pair of skipper Aiden Markram (41 off 40 balls) and Heinrich Klaasen (36 off 20 balls) had at one point in time looked to take the match away with their 70-run partnership.
Markram and Klaasen produced innings of character but their dismissal in quick succession spelt doom for the home side as the later-order batters couldn't get going.
Rana & Rinku keep KKR campaign alive
The KKR pair of Rana and Rinku came together at the crease at a time when the team was struggling at 49 for three at the end of powerplay.
But by the time Rana departed in the 12th over, his 31-ball 42 studded with three fours and an equal number of maximums had put the team on course to a fighting total.
While wickets continued to fall at the other end, with West Indians Andre Russell and Sunil Narine hardly making an impact, Rinku (46 off 35 balls) curbed his natural instinct and played patiently to give the side a decent total to defend.
It was another forgettable start for KKR with opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz unable to recreate the magic of the previous game against Gujarat Titans.
The 21-year-old Afghanistan opener fell to a length ball from South African quick Marco Jansen off the first delivery of the second over as he tried flick it over mid-wicket but was a tad late and the top edge flew to Harry Brook at mid-on.
SRH bowlers keep things tight
Venkatesh Iyer departed five balls later, becoming Jansen's second victim as the tall pacer sent down the short stuff that the KKR batter uncomfortably tried to hook, only to pop it high up in the air for wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen to take an easy catch.
India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept it tight at the other end, conceding just 12 runs in his first two overs as the home team endured yet another poor start.
After bowling two wides and a no-ball, the Uttar Pradesh cricketer got the big wicket of England opener Jason Roy.
Roy's premeditated cross-bat heave took a big edge and flew to short third man as Mayank Agarwal took a simple catch.
SRH lose the plot
SRH too were off to a poor start in their chase, with KKR pace bowler Harshit Rana once again exposed SRH opener Mayank Agarwal's frailty while facing the short-pitched deliveries.
While the opener was comfortable playing his strokes on both sides of the wicket, Rana tested him with a delivery touching 140kmph and angled into the body on middle and leg stump.
Mayank played a defensive hook while trying to get his head out of harm's way and lobbed the ball for the keeper to take an easy catch.
Mayank's soft dismissals put the pressure back on the fragile SRH top-order and eight runs later, SRH were reduced to 37 for 2 in the fourth over after Abhishek Sharma too headed back to the dugout with Russell lunging forward to take a catch at deep backward square off a Shardul delivery.
(With PTI inputs)