SHARJAH: On a sluggish Sharjah pitch, the Kolkata Knight Riders handed Delhi Capitals their first loss of phase two.
Put in to bat first by Eoin Morgan, Delhi managed a meagre 127/9 and while chasing the two-time champions huffed and puffed but ultimately got over the line with three wickets and 10 balls to spare.
The result does not hamper last year's runners-up too much.
They remain second with 16 points from 11 games and have almost qualified for the next stage, requiring a win to make sure of their passage.
But to ensure a top two finish, which gives teams two cracks at reaching the final, they need to win a couple out of their remaining three games.
A resurgent Kolkata team is one of the in-form sides of the second phase.
They remain fourth but now have 10 points from 11 and have opened up a small gap over the three teams below them.
The best part of their displays in the UAE has been the marked improvement in their NRR. It is the best of the remaining teams in that cluster and might prove to be the difference in the end.
Such was the slow nature of the track that none of the Delhi batters could hit a maximum in their innings.
Only Steve Smith (39 off 34 balls), who replaced an injured Prithvi Shaw, and skipper Rishabh Pant (39 off 36 balls) could cross the 30-run mark.
Delhi's lower middle order batters contributed only 13 runs.
With DC's openers and bowlers stealing the show so far, the middle order has not really been exerted but the absence of Marcus Stoinis was certainly felt on Tuesday.
For KKR, the pick of the bowlers was Sunil Narine (2/18), who bowled with guile and full of variations, and part-time medium-pacer Venkatesh Iyer whose figures read 2/29 at the end of his quota of four overs.
Mainly bowling in the 120 kmph range, the left-handed batter has been the find of the season so far.
The Knight Riders almost made a mess of the chase as at one stage they were toiling at 4/67 in the 11th over.
Captain Morgan's dismal run with the bat continued and with a rising required run-rate, Delhi's bowlers were once again putting their team in contention for an unlikely win.
But it was the 14th and 16th over which completely changed the complexion of the game.
Facing fellow Delhi player Lalit Yadav, Nitish Rana hit 20 runs which included two successive sixes and injected some much-needed momentum into the game. Then Narine did his part with the bat as well, swatting Kagiso Rabada for 21 runs which included two sixes.
Pant's captaincy has come in for a lot of praise so far but his decision not to bowl Anrich Nortje when things were not going in their favour proved to be costly.
"I think we were 10 short, not much. We knew the wicket would slow down in the second innings. But every team is trying to win the match. We want to give 100% and if it doesn't go our way we will learn and move on. Batting was pretty difficult for new batters. We wanted to capitalise in the end with the bat, but we lost wickets and ended up 10 short. Bowling performance - really happy. There isn't a massive change that we need to do," Pant said after the match.
Brief scores: Delhi Capitals 127/9 in 20 ovs (Smith 39, Pant 39; Narine 2/18, Ferguson 2/10) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 130/7 in 18.2 ovs (Rana 36 n.o.; Avesh 3/13).