Lucknow Super Giants survive Rinku Singh’s late scare to earn a playoff spot with a one-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata’s Rinku Singh smashed 67 runs off 33 balls proving his mettle yet again

Lucknow Super Giants beat Kolkata Knight Riders in a one-run thriller in the 68th Indian Premier League 2023 match on Saturday to finish the league stages in the third position. On the other hand, Kolkata’s slim hopes for a playoff spot ended as they finished the 16th edition of the tournament in seventh place with just six wins in 14 games.

Nitish Rana won the toss and elected to bowl first at Eden Gardens with no changes to Kolkata’s playing eleven. Lucknow took a big decision to drop struggling big-hitter Deepak Hooda with Karan Sharma taking his place and Krishnappa Gowtham replaced Swapnil Singh in another change. 

Karan Sharma and Quinton de Kock opened an innings for LSG but once against they failed to produce a promising start. Harshit Rana gave Kolkata an opening in the third over with Karan’s wicket with just 14 runs on the scorecard. But Lucknow were quick to recover and dominated the powerplay overs. 

Prerak Mankand and de Kock added 41 runs for the second wicket as the Super Giants scored 54 runs in the first six overs. Mankad looked in great rhythm as he smashed three fours off Harshit in the fifth over and two more in the sixth over. 

Vaibhav Arora gave Kolkata a breakthrough in the seventh over with Mankad’s wicket who scored 26 off 20. But Eden Garden erupted when Vaibhav dismissed in-form Marcus Stoinis on a duck after two deliveries to add more pressure on Lucknow 

Kolkata bowlers, especially spinners, dominated the middle overs as Rana brought in Suyash Sharma as an impact player in the 12th over. Sunil Narine dismissed Krunal Pandya next and Varun Chakravarthy took de Kock’s wicket after two deliveries as Lucknow were down to five wickets with just 73 runs on the scoreboard in 10.1 overs.

Nicholas Pooran top-scored with 58 runs off just 30 balls for Lucknow Super Giants

Then Pooran joined Ayush Badoni in the middle to begin Lucknow’s fightback. The Caribbean star smashed three back-to-back boundaries, including one six, in his first three deliveries in an attempt to thwart off pressure created by two wickets in quick succession. Pooran took charge to accelerate LSG’s innings in the last ten overs while Badoni adopted a defensive approach to avoid further wickets.

Pooran and Badoi pulled off a defining 74-run partnership for the sixth wicket to put Lucknow on track for the big total. Pooran top-scored with 58 off 30 with the help of four fours and five sixes while Badoni added crucial 25 runs. 

Gowtham finished the game by adding 10 runs on the innings’ last two balls and that proved very valuable after the game. Shardul Thakur, Vaibhav, and Narine picked two wickets each for KKR while Varun and Harshit took one each.

Jason Roy and Venkatesh Iyer gave Kolkata Knight Riders a flying start to put themselves in the driving seat. Venkatesh smashed two fours and a six off Mohsin Khan in the very first over to raise KKR’s hopes for playoff qualification with a big win. Roy also played aggressive cricket from the beginning as he added three boundaries in the second over to complement Venkatesh.

The duo guided Kolkata to the 50-run mark in just 26 balls but Lucknow managed to pick the opening wicket just before the end of the powerplay game. Venkatesh tried to smash Gowtham’s delivery over extra cover but found Ravi Bishnoi, who took an easy catch. Kolkata lost momentum with Venkatesh’s dismissal as Lucknow bowlers dominated the next six overs completely.

Bishnoi dismissed Rana on just eight runs in the ninth over and Krunal bowled out Roy in the next over to put Lucknow in the driving seat for the first time. Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rinku added 26 runs from the fourth wickets but Kolkata lost the Afghan batter in the 14th over and conceded more pressure when Andre Russell walked off the pitch in the 16th over.

The Knight Riders needed 51 runs to win the game off the last three overs with tailender Shardul already on the pitch. But their hopes for two points remained high with Rinku at the crease. The left-handed youngster had already guided KKR to two impossible finishes this season and he almost made it three.

The hosts lost two more wickets in the 18th over as the required net rate rose to 20.50 in the last two overs. Rinku smashed three back-to-back fours and one huge 110-metre six off Naveen-ul-Haq to scorch 20 runs off the 19th over. Yash Thakur conceded just three runs off his first three deliveries in the last over to shift the momentum back toward Lucknow.

Kolkata needed three maximums on the last three balls but Rinku managed to smash two sixes and a four to concede a one-run defeat. Rinku’s valiant effort was admirable but KKR’s IPL 2023 campaign ended with a defeat. On the other hand, Lucknow Super Giants remain in the third position with 17 points from 14 games to secure playoff qualification. Nicholas Pooran earned the Player of the Match award for his match-winning half-century.