In a game that ebbed and flowed, Marcus Stoinis held his nerve to seal a thrilling two-run win for Lucknow Super Giants despite Rinku Singh’s rearguard thrill-a-minute 15-ball 40 as Kolkata Knight Riders bowed out of the tournament.
For the best part of an hour and a half into the game, the Knight Riders prodded, flung themselves onto the ground to stop balls, bowled probing lengths and stuck to their strengths but a breakthrough continued to elude them as the Super Giants racked up 210 for no loss in the first innings. On a dry pitch with an even covering of grass, KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock put on a batting masterclass in a first instance in IPL history for a team batting first to bat through all 20 overs without losing a wicket.
De Kock hit the third-highest individual score in IPL history, and his second IPL century, as he bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 70-ball 140, a knock comprising 10 fours and as many sixes. LSG skipper Rahul played second fiddle alongside him as he scored a 51-ball 68, hitting three fours and four sixes. The duo struck 88 off the final four death overs with de Kock playing the aggressor.
In reply, Nitish Rana and Shreyas Iyer helped the Knight Riders race to 60 for 2 in the power play after losing openers Venkatesh Iyer and Abhijeet Tomar by the third over. Their third-wicket stand was worth 56 off just 27 balls with Rana striking nine boundaries and Shreyas Iyer later on bringing up his 19th IPL fifty.
With the required run-rate climbing and a play-off spot on the line, Iyer anchored the chase with Sam Billings as his ally. The duo put up a 66-run partnership for the fourth wicket but once Iyer was dismissed in the 14th over, Billings and Andre Russell were sent back in the space of an over.
Needing 61 off 20 balls, Rinku Singh and Sunil Narine swung for boundaries as they hit seven sixes between them to bring the equation down to 21 off the last over. Singh struck a boundary of Stoinis’ first ball and followed it with successive sixes but was out caught off a magnificent one-handed catch by Evin Lewis, who ran in 30 yards. Needing three of the last ball, Stoinis closed out the game with a slower ball yorker to seal his side’s play-off spot.
“That was one of the best games of cricket I have played,” Shreyas Iyer said after the game. “The way we should our character and attitude was simply outstanding. I love the way Rinku got us till the end but unfortunately couldn't time it when two balls were remaining, he was really sad. I was hoping he could finish the game for us and could have been the hero, but still played a fantastic knock and I am really happy for him.”