Kolkata, May 21 (IANS) Rinku Singh’s sensational unbeaten fifty (67 off 33) went in vain as Lucknow Super Giants beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 1 run in a thrilling Match No. 68 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 and qualify for Playoffs at the Eden Gardens, here on Saturday.
With this win, LSG became the third team to qualify for Playoffs in the ongoing IPL 2023 season, having 17 points from 14 matches. On the other hand, KKR got eliminated after suffering a close defeat.
West Indies wicket-keeper batter Nicholas Pooran led Lucknow Super Giants’ fightback with a quickfire fifty (58 off 30) and guided them to 176/8 in 20 overs.
LSG were reeling at 73/5 after 10.1 overs but Pooran stitched an attacking partnership of 74 runs for the sixth wicket with Ayush Badoni (25 off 21) and helped them post a fighting total. The likes of Shardul Thakur (2-27), Sunil Narine (2-28) and Vaibhav Arora (2-30) picked two wickets each for KKR.
Chasing a fighting total, openers Jason Roy and Venkatesh Iyer got KKR off to a blazing start, scoring 61/1 after 5.5 overs.
Roy was the aggressor, but Iyer wasn’t far behind, blazing fours and sixes indiscriminately throughout the Power-play. The penultimate ball of the Power-play saw Iyer depart for 24 against Krishnappa Gowtham but the Powerplay firmly belonged to KKR.
However, the LSG spinners brought their team back into the game by taking crucial wickets at regular intervals. KKR’s downslide started when leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, in his very first over, got rid of skipper Nitish Rana (8), who couldn’t judge the ball, got an edge and his counterpart Krunal Pandya took a simple catch.
Roy was looking very dangerous with his 28-ball 45 but LSG skipper Krunal Pandya bowled the England batter to put a big dent in KKR’s run chase and leave them at 82/3 after 10 overs.
Not only did LSG manage to pick wickets at crucial times, but they also put pressure on KKR batters and gave 6, 6, 9 and 5 from the 11th to 14th overs. In between, they also got rid of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who flattered to deceive in his 15-ball struggle for 10 runs before mistiming a slower one from Yash Dayal that he did not read.
With big-hitter Andre Russell and proven match-winner Rinku Singh at the crease, KKR needed 63 from 30 balls. In the third ball of Bishnoi’s over, Russell hit a straight six and the crowd at Eden found their voice. However, Bishnoi cleaned up Russell (7) in the next delivery to have the last laugh.
From there on, Rinku had a big responsibility on his shoulders and the left-hander managed to hit a few boundaries and sixes but he was losing partners from the other end — Shardul Thakur (3) also couldn’t do much and got out to Yash Thakur. Two balls later, Sunil Narine fell after a suicidal run-out,
KKR needed 41 runs from 12 balls and Rinku decided to put up a fight. He smashed Naveen-ul-Haq for three fours and a six, scoring a total of 20 runs in the 19th over to keep KKR alive in the chase.
With 21 needed from six balls, Rinku Singh got the strike in the second ball of the final over and smashed