Nitish Rana had been in two minds before the end of the final over. It was a choice between Shardul Thakur and Varun Chakravarthy.
Rana decided to back his “best bowler on the night”. After going for 12 in his first over, Varun had given away just nine, including three leg-byes, in his next two, the 16th and 18th of the innings.
Sunrisers Hyderabad needed only nine runs but Rana backed his instincts. The wet ball was “slipping a lot”. No spinner had defended this few in the last over of an IPL game. The pressure was on Varun. As it turned out, KKR won by five runs.
“My heartbeat was definitely touching 200,” he said. But his mind was clear. “I just wanted to challenge them on the longer side (of the ground) and bowl on the legs. If they could hit from there, it was fine.”
Varun didn’t have a great IPL last year, picking up six wickets from 11 games at an economy of 8.51. This year the story has been different: he has 14 wickets from 10 games at 7.99.
“Last year, I was bowling around 85kmph,” he said. “Somewhere I had lost my speed. So I went back, tried many things, and realised that once my revolutions go down, my speed automatically goes down. So I started working on my revs, and it helped.”
In the final over, Varun’s speeds were 108.9, 88.6, 97.2, 93.3, 96.3 and 107.8kmph.
But how does Rana decide as to who will bowl the death overs? “I just see who is bowling better on the day, whether it’s Sunny (Narine), Varun or Suyash (Sharma),” Rana said. “Whoever is bowling better, I try to give him the tough overs.”
KKR need to win all their remaining four matches to make the playoffs.
“It’s a very important win for us, it’s all do-or-die matches for us from here on so we have to keep winning. But to win a match away is very important, so it was a very good win,” he said.
KKR will face Punjab Kings at the Eden on Monday.