Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s tight four wickets choked the Rajasthan Royals out of the game, setting up a six-wicket win for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
He and his mates limited the Royals to 142 and the Riders cruised in with two overs remaining.
There may have been a brief period of nervousness when the Riders went three down for 69 after eight overs when chasing 143, but Chris Lynn threw down the anchor to end on 45 off 42 and Dinesh Karthik (41 off 35) and Andre Russell (11 off five) saw the Riders home.
The fact they had time to stabilise the innings came from the amazing display of Sunil Narine, who smashed 21 runs off the first over of the innings from off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham.
Ben Stokes dismissed Narine and Robin Uthappa (4) in short order, and was later to end Lynn’s stand, but by then the run rate was down to less than six.
It had all looked so promising earlier when the Royals openers, sent in to bat, slammed 63 runs off five overs, at 12.6 an over, to which Rahul Tripathi contributed 27 off 15 balls, including four fours and a six.
Jos Buttler was to go on to 39 off 22 – hitting five fours and two sixes – but missing a T20 record of six consecutive fifties. Along the way, Ajinkya Rahane fell for 11 off 12 and the Knights put the shackles on the scoring rate.
They also made serious inroads into the batting lineup, taking five wickets in five consecutive overs and reducing the Royals to 107-7 after 14 overs.
Jaydev Unadkat picked up 26 off 18 balls, but the roll-over resumed at the other end as the Royals lost their last four wickets for 35 runs.
Kuldeep ended with 4-20 off four, including two off seven balls, and Andre Russell, who conceded just 13 runs from his three, while taking two wickets.
While the Riders enhanced their claim to a playoff place, the loss for Royals will make their last league game – against RCB in Jaipur – a high-pressure contest.
They are on 12 points going into that game, while RCB could be on 10 or 12 points, depending on the result of their match against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday, with a better NRR.