When Rinku Singh walked out to bat at No 8, Kolkata Knight Riders had lost Andre Russell and needed 60 runs off 20 balls. From that stage the never-say-die south paw brought it down to three runs off the final ball with his stunning 15-ball 40. (More IPL News)
But Marcus Stonis nailed his yorker bowling to Umesh Yadav, helping Lucknow Super Giants steal a 2-run victory at the DY Patil stadium on Wednesday. LSG joined fellow newcomers Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs. With 18 points and a healthy run rate, they look good to even finish in the top two.
Little would KKR and Abhijeet Tomar, playing his first game, have known how costly his dropping Quinton De Kock in the third over of the LSG innings would prove. De Kock was again dropped on 68 by wicket-keeper Sam Billings. Those two spilled catches cost KKR 128 runs as the South African went on to score an unbeaten 140 (70b) at a strike rate of 200. In what was a must-win game for KKR, their bowlers failed to pick a wicket, the LSG openers amassing an IPL record stand for the wicket—210 runs in the 20 overs.
There were five previous hundreds in the season, three by Jos Buttler and two by KL Rahul, but none as well paced as de Kock’s. It was an innings of two halves. De Kock brought up his 50 in 36 balls. He added another 90 in the next 34. De Kock has always possessed every shot in the book. But with a career strike rate of 133 in the league, he is rarely as violent as he was under the DY Patil Stadium lights.
To give a measure of how he picked and chose his big hits, de Kock batted out 15 dot balls in the same innings in which he also smashed 10 sixes and 10 fours. Team coach Andy Flower said at the break, “At the end of the 18th over, we sent a message saying, ‘If you guys are too tired to hit the ball hard, you can retire and we’ll send some of our big hitters in.” De Kock responded by scoring three sixes in the 19th over bowled by Tim Southee, who went for 27 runs in the over. In the final over bowled by Russell, de Kock hit four 4s. The final two overs produced 46 runs, the last five overs 88.
When the LSG innings began, the openers were scoring only around 6-an-over after eight overs. Having been dismissed cheaply for three innings in a row and the LSG middle order struggling for runs, KL Rahul was doing as he promised, playing anchor.
Runs weren’t easy to come by for de Kock either in the early overs with KKR’s spin-twins Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy finding good control. It was in the 9th over when de Kock spotted a Russell slower ball early and deposited it over the square leg boundary that he changed a gear. At the other end, in the 10th over, Rahul began to go, lofting Tim Southee for two maximums between mid-wicket and square-leg. He finished unbeaten on 68.
In reply, after all the hammering and knowledge that even a win will not guarantee a top four finish to stay in title contention, KKR choose to be belligerent in their run chase. They needed to boost their net run rate as well to have a chance.
Despite early setbacks, through Nitish Rana’s 22-ball 42, Shreyas Iyer’s 29-ball 50 and Sam Billings’s 24-ball 36, they stayed in the hunt. But it was the brave hitting of Rinku and Sunil Narine (21* off 7 balls) that stretched LSG to the limit.