Ahmedabad: It could be safely said that this match was most dramatic with fortunes changing but Rajasthan Royals came from nowhere to register a 10-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chasing a target of 171, Kolkata were cruising at 121 for no loss with Gautam Gambhir (54) and Robin Uthappa (65) at the crease before losing an incredible six wickets for two runs in a space of nine deliveries (eight legal ones).
Shane Watson (3 for 21) and Pravin Tambe's hat-trick (3 for 26) scripted a remarkable collapse of Kolkata, which won't be forgotten anytime soon.
Kolkata never recovered from that telling blow as they were restricted to 160 for 6 in the stipulated 20 overs, losing their fifth game in the tournament. With a defeat like this, it will be very difficult for Kolkata to make a comeback. Rajasthan with 10 points from seven games stay firmly in contention for a semifinal berth.
Then Kolkata batsmen started to play mindless shots to get into a position where recovery looked impossible until Shakib Al Hasan's presence in the middle took the match to the last over.
Watson scripted the turnaround at the start of the 15th over. Gambhir tried to loft him over extra cover but only got a thick edge to Sanju Samson behind the stumps.
With the third ball of the over, Uthappa who was in belligerent mood flicked one straight down Rajat Bhatia's throat. After a gap of another delivery Watson bowled a perfect leg-cutter to knock back Andre Russell's (0) middle-stump.
Suddenly from 121 for no loss, Kolkata slumped to 122 for 3 but the drama was far from over. The 43-year-old Tambe then came up with something special as he first bowled a wide googly which fooled Manish Pandey (0), who was stumped wide down leg-side.
Yusuf Pathan (0), who has forgotten when he last played a good knock, gave a simple return catch to Tambe. The wily legspinner completed his hat-trick when his flipper found Ryan ten Doeschate (0) plumb in-front to leave Kolkata struggling at 123 for 6.
Watson kept his cool as he bowled a brilliant final over when 17 runs were required by giving away only six runs. However till the 14th over, it looked like a walk in the park for Kolkata before they lost wickets in a hurry.
Opener Uthappa was in punishing mood while skipper Gambhir complemented him with a well-crafted half-century as the duo laid the foundation of what looked an imminent comprehensive victory with a 121-run opening stand.
Uthappa's innings was laced with five boundaries and three towering sixes while Gambhir also played his part with six boundaries and a six to his credit.
Earlier, a collective effort by Rajasthan batsmen saw them reach a competitive score of 170 for 6. After put into bat, in-form openers Karun Nair (44) and Ajinkya Rahane (30) gave a good start while Samson (37) and skipper Watson (31) also made useful contributions to prop up the score.
Narine again returned with good figures of 2 for 28 while Vinay Kumar also got a couple of wickets despite conceding 42 runs in his spell.
Rahane reached 30 off 22 balls and he looked set for a big knock before it was cut short by a direct throw by Narine from short fine leg. Rahane running to the danger end made a dive to make home but fell short of the crease. The opening stand between Nair and Rahane got 52 runs for Rajasthan.
But Nair kept his calm to add another 53 runs with Samson for the second wicket. Nair fell short of his fifty by six runs when Shakib bowled wide to get the Karnataka batsman stumped for 44.
Samson scored couple of boundaries off Russell before he played a shot to midwicket off Narine to depart at 37.
Skipper Watson played his hand as he hit a two back-to-back sixes off Vinay - one over long off and other straight into the sight screen. But Russell's antics of stopping in his delivery stride broke his concentration as he was holed out in the deep with Suryakumar Yadav taking a well judged catch at the fence. Watson's 31 came off 20 balls with two fours and equal number of sixes.
with PTI inputs