@ovshake42 3 minute read
No team in the history of Twenty20 cricket – all Twenty20 – has scored 31 runs in the last over to win a match. Yet, it seemed impossible Kolkata Knight Riders would need something so extreme at several points in the game.
Gujarat Titans had been languishing at 159-4 after 18 overs, before Vijay Shankar slammed a 24-ball 63 not out to propel them to 204-4. Venkatesh Iyer (83 in 40 balls) and Nitish Rana (45 in 29) then kept the Kolkata Knight Riders on track.
At one point Kolkata needed 50 in four overs, when Rashid Khan, leading in Hardik Pandya’s absence, completed a hat-trick to turn the match on its head.
His wickets included Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, the two men with the highest strike rates in the history of the franchise, and Shardul Thakur, fresh off the fastest fifty of the season.
After Rashid’s over, Kolkata needed 48 in three overs. With Umesh Yadav at the other end and Lockie Ferguson and Varun Chakravarthy to follow, Rinku’s options were running out.
They decided to see off Mohammed Shami. The target was now 43 in 12. Josh Little began with two wides, but followed up well, and at 39 from eight, the match was going only one way.
Rinku sent the next two balls over the sight-screen for six, and past mid-wicket for four. The asking rate was so steep that it went up despite the four.
Twenty-nine in the last over. Kolkata needed to step into unchartered territory, for no team had got as many in the last over to win a match.
Umesh mistimed a slower ball from Yash Dayal and the batters ran a single. The arithmetic was simple now: Kolkata needed five boundary hits including at least four sixes. It was only the slightly non-trivial matter of implementation that remained.
Rinku waited. He had managed only eight off his first 14 balls. The last two hits had taken him to 18 off 16, an improvement but nowhere close to adequate when you chase upwards of ten an over.
Dayal bowled a full-toss outside off. This was in Rinku’s ‘zone’, for he thrives on bludgeoning drives, both on the ground and in the air. The ball disappeared over wide long-off.
Dayal changed his line. This one was a low full-toss on leg-stump, and Rinku calmly turned his wrists to clear deep square leg.
Dayal reverted to the off-stump line again. Another full-toss – the highest, and perhaps the worst, of the three full-tosses. It was some distance outside the off-stump as well, and Rinku used the width to hit over long-off.
Changing the line twice had not worked for Dayal. In an attempt to alter his length – perhaps an outcome of a conference with the seniors before the ball – he ended up bowling too short.
Rinku stayed on the crease and semi-flat-batted the ball over long on for six.
The pressure perhaps got to Dayal, and the sixth ball turned out to be both too short and too wide off stump. Rinku, having been there, done that merely a ball ago, played a near-identical shot.
In the process, he helped the Kolkata Knight Riders achieve the small matter of a world record in a format spanning over 12,000 matches: no team has scored as many in the last two overs to win a match.