IPL 2023: Lucknow Super Giants survive Rinku Singh scare to qualify for playoffs

Batting under pressure and with wickets falling at the other end, Rinku Singh with a gallant unbeaten 67 off just 33 balls almost pulled off a heist that would have put Kolkata Knight Riders in the reckoning for a playoff spot. With 21 needed off the last over and then 18 off three, Rinku managed a six and followed it up with a four and a six but KKR fell short by one run to give Lucknow Super Giants an assured place in the playoffs.

Lucknow fast bowler Yash Thakur bowled a nervy last over, in which he conceded two wides but also bowled two dot balls to put Rinku under immense pressure. The second-last ball, which was a little wide outside off, was smashed for a four by Rinku which meant KKR needed eight off the last ball.

When Andrew Russell, not at his best but still a dangerous finisher fell for just seven it was up to Rinku to come up with another blitz with the bat.

This season Rinku has proved that he has a calm head on his shoulders and possesses the ability to find the big strokes when under pressure in a tense chase. Saturday night was another example of why Rinku is gaining in stature as a finisher though he still has some rough edges.

He found six fours and four sixes, and the most breathtaking was a 110-metre six—off fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq. He also put pressure on the fielders by stealing quick singles. Rinku’s rising stature has been one of the positives for KKR, a team which didn’t really click as a unit this season.

Lucknow did have the advantage of knowing that CSK had notched up a big win in the first game of Saturday and knew what they needed to do

Win the game and go to the playoffs regardless of what happens elsewhere. For KKR, the miracle never happened and LSG got the win they needed, albeit by just 1 run.

After being invited to bat first, Lucknow riding on Nicholas Pooran’s counter-attacking fifty posted a fighting total of 176. In reply, KKR were almost out of the game until the Rinku special.

With this win, LSG finished third on the points table while KKR ended their campaign with a lot to ponder about.

KKR crank it up

KKR’s young fast bowling duo of Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora bowled with pace (touching nearly 144 kph) and accuracy and seem like good investments for the franchisee. While Rana began with a one-run over against Quinton de Kock and got the wicket of Karn Sharma in his next over, Arora removed Prerak Mankad and Marcus Stoinis in the seventh over, leaving Lucknow reeling at 55/3 in 7 overs. This was after the early movement on offer had disappeared, and the ball was coming nicely onto the bat.

Arora’s double-wicket over, where he dismissed the dangerous Stoinis with an absolute snorter that climbed onto the batsman, forced the well-settled De Kock to slow his innings before the run-rate pressure got to the South African, resulting in a dismissal off Sunil Narine.

After the game, Lukcnow captain Krunal Pandya spoke about why he chose Yash over Mohsin Khan to bowl the last over. “At one stage they were 61 for 1, and we felt just two or three tight overs can change the state of the game. There was grip for the spinners. Rinku has been special every game. You can’t take him easy. But it’s a high-pressure situation when bowling those death overs. I went with my gut and gave Yash instead of Mohsin the last over. It just paid off.”

KKR’s splendid start

Promoting Venkatesh Iyer to open instead of Rahmanullah Gurbaz bore rich dividends for Kolkata. Iyer was particularly aggressive against Mohsin Khan, while Jason Roy took on Naveen-ul-Haq. Even Krunal Pandya, who introduced himself in the PowerPlay, went for runs as KKR scored 61 in the first six overs.

Bishnoi turns it around

Just when it seemed like KKR could coast to a win, leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi bowled a game-changing spell of 2/23 from 4 overs, picking up crucial wickets of Nitish Rana and Andre Russell wickets. What was impressive from the leg spinner was how he kept things tight and didn’t allow Russell to free his arms, which forced the West Indian to go for a wild swing only to end up giving his wicket away

Pooran power saves LSG

When Nicholas Pooran gets going he is certainly a delight to watch. In typical Pooran fashion, he played his first 10 balls quietly and then showed off his six-hitting prowess slamming five sixes in a vital 74-run partnership with Ayush Badoni, who played second fiddle.

It was his innings of 58 from 30 balls that helped LSG bounce back from a precarious position of 73/5. The counterattack helped them finish at 176/8 in 20 overs

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