In one of the greatest finishes to a T20 run chase, Rinku Singh’s power-hitting gave Kolkata Knight Riders a stunning three-wicket win against Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad on Sunday (April 9). With 29 needed off the final over, Rinku struck Yash Dayal for five sixes off the final five deliveries of the match to seal an unbelievable victory at the Narendra Modi Stadium. That Rashid Khan’s hat-trick was rendered a sideshow and ended up in a losing cause tells you all you need to know.
The magic started in the penultimate over
With 12 deliveries left, KKR needed 43 and it came down to 39 off 8 balls with the game seemingly all but done. Rinku, however, refused to give up. A six and four off Joshua Little’s final two deliveries meant 29 was needed off the final over. Even against a rookie like Yash Dayal, it looked improbable. Umesh Yadav gave the strike back first ball, and that was that. That’s when Rinku did the unthinkable. The bowling wasn’t the greatest, with Dayal offering as many as three full tosses in those manic final five balls, but the hitting under pressure from Rinku was unreal.
A topsy-turvy game from the start
Even before a ball was bowled, the Titans were jolted with regular captain Hardik Pandya ruled out due to an illness. His deputy, Rashid Khan, started well by winning a good toss and GT were off to a brisk start as well. Wriddhiman Saha gave the early impetus with some neat-looking shots and after his dismissal, Shubman Gill took it forward. The latter couldn’t convert his start but his partnership with Sai Sudharsan set the innings on track. The left-hander looked assured as he produced a solid 53 off 38 to anchor the innings
KKR’s spinners face the heat
It’s no secret that the spin twins are the key men for the Knight Riders, starting from the ending overs of the powerplay to the middle overs. They left a strong impression in last game but both Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy got the stick this time around, although the former did strike thrice at timely periods. Gill and Sai Sudharsan used their feet well against the spinners while also using the depth of the crease to perfection.
A freaky finish to the innings from GT
Despite a strong show from the GT top-order, they hadn’t really run away with the game, getting to 159/2 after 18 overs. KKR would have fancied restricting the hosts to a total in the 185 range or thereabouts. Vijay Shankar, though, had other ideas. He thrashed Lockie Ferguson and Shardul Thakur to all corners as 45 came off the final 12 balls to ease the Titans past the 200-run mark. It was a sort of finish that was incredible to say the least. Little did we know then that a bigger one was to come in the chase.
KKR dented early in the chase
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Narayan Jagadeesan (on KKR debut) fell early with the pressure of the big chase clearly evident in their dismissals. While the former fell to a sharp short ball, his partner’s was more of a soft dismissal as GT held their own in the powerplay.
Iyer, Rana spark a comeback
KKR needed their senior men to come to the party and they certainly did, especially Venkatesh Iyer who made 83 off 40 after a poor run of scores. The left-handed duo of Iyer and Rana (45 off 29) added 100 off just 55 deliveries to break the game open and it’s their calculated ball-striking that was the highlight of their stand. Although the KKR skipper got out to a very loose shot (caught in the ring off Alzarri Joseph), Iyer continued to go all guns blazing. There were really crunchy lofts and pick-up shots as the left-hander found his best form in a bit.
A tactical promotion or a wrong move gone right?
When Rana fell, the platform was set for KKR’s designated finisher Andre Russell to come in. But they sent in Rinku Singh – a move that raised eyebrows all around. It didn’t help the visitors that Iyer fell soon after, meaning that two new batters had to move the chase forward.
Rashid Khan the magician with a hat-trick
Game on the line, the opposition’s most dangerous batter in and that’s generally when the Afghanistan leggie loves to bowl. He had kept himself for this matchup. Not only he did get Russell first ball, he also followed it up by removing Sunil Narine and Shardul Thakur to produce the season’s first hat-trick. It seemed like a game-killing blow at the time.
The Rinku Singh phenomenon strikes
He had brought his team close from hopeless situations before, notably against LSG last year, and it told you that Rinku was a fighter. He never gave up. He needed some luck too, of course, but even with that, this task needed some doing. The ball-striking was nerveless as he never lost his shape and knew exactly which spots to pick. 29 off 5 is something that happens once in a million blue moons.
In the end, his 31-ball 48* broke Titan’s unbeaten streak in the season and gave the Knight Riders a morale-boosting win.
Brief scores: Gujarat Titans 204/4 in 20 overs (Shankar 63*, Sudharsan 53; Narine 3-33) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 207/7 in 20 overs (Iyer 83, Rinku 48*; Rashid 3-37) by three wickets.