Unbelievable twists and miracles can happen in cricket too. That’s what the Kolkata Knight Riders proved at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
In pursuit of 205, the Knight Riders needed a humongous 29 off the final over. A set Rinku Singh was out there in the middle, but Gujarat Titans were pretty much assured of their third straight win in IPL 2023 as those were far too many runs to get for the Knight Riders.
Umesh Yadav gave the strike to Rinku with a single off the first ball of the deciding over. Thereafter, what took place was sensational, unbelievable and above all, a near-miracle which might please the Knight Riders’ principal owner Shah Rukh Khan no less than the box office success of his latest movie Pathaan.
The left-handed Rinku (48 not out off 21 balls) smashed five maximums in a row that helped the Knights overhaul the defending champions’ 204/4 and clinch a three-wicket victory from a hopeless situation. Yash Dayal, the bowler, and the rest of the Titans team were all shell-shocked.
This picture of Rinku Singh at his home was being widely circulated on social media after his heroics on Sunday. Hailing from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, Rinku comes from a lowermiddle-class family. His father delivered LPG cylinders while he too worked as a domestic help to make ends meet. “My father struggled a lot... Every ball that I hit out of the ground was dedicated to the people who sacrificed so much for me,” Rinku said after his matchwinning knock. File photo
One certainly feels for the Titans’ stand-in captain Rashid Khan (3/37), who led the side in the absence of the unwell regular captain Hardik Pandya and also recorded a hat-trick with the scalps of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Shardul Thakur at a crucial phase of the game. But the ace leg-spinner could have kept the much more reliable and experienced Mohammed Shami for the final over instead of handing the ball over to Dayal.
The left-arm quick kept dishing full tosses and short-pitched stuff as Rinku just continued smashing him over fine-leg region, extra-cover and long-on. Not once did Dayal try the wide yorker, which could have proved to be effective. With four needed off the last ball, Dayal again pitched it short and Rinku hammered it straight over the top for yet another six to spark off celebrations in the Knights’ camp.
All said and done, knocking off as many as 29 runs in the deciding over of a game is always a massive task irrespective of who the bowler is. And therein lies Rinku’s credit, while his excellent temperament also gets reflected through this match-winning knock.
The platform, though, was laid by Impact Player Venkatesh Iyer (replacing spinner Suyash Sharma), who played his role to perfection with a 40-ball 83 and a massively important 100-run stand with skipper Nitish Rana (45) after the Knights had lost openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Narayan Jagadeesan (coming in place of Mandeep Singh) early.
Banking on his timing and clean hitting, Iyer produced a quality knock that gave the Knights hope and also put the pressure back on the Titans, who did miss Pandya’s presence on the field.
As for the Knights’ bowling, Sunil Narine (3/33) stood out once again while young Suyash (1/35) too didn’t give much away. Narine, in particular, did well to dismiss Shubman Gill (39) and the consistent Sai Sudarshan (53) against the run of play.
But with Lockie Ferguson (replacing Tim Southee) and Shardul being erratic, Vijay Shankar (63 not out off 25 balls) unleashed the big hits to take the Titans past 200.