Lucknow Super Giants 210 for 0 (de Kock 140*, Rahul 68*) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 208 for 8 (Shreyas 50, Rinku 40, Mohsin 3-20) by two runs
So there was this dude who scored an unbeaten 140, and yet the match-winning knock could have been 40 off 15
Kolkata Knight Riders were having a day, picking up no wickets but losing two in their first three overs, their chances of victory see-sawing between 96.03% and 0.35%.
Rinku took them to the brink of a truly ridiculous result. But, in the middle of a game that should have been Super Giants’ but now slipping away rapidly, which is right up there as the worst kind of pressure, Stoinis defended 4 off 3 by picking up two wickets in two balls. One of them was a barely believable catch from Evin Lewis that will go down in IPL folklore. What a way to seal your place in the playoffs.
de Kock decimated Knight Riders’ mystery spinners, striking at a rate of 183 against Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy.
The trick – and such a simple one it was too – was his ability to sweep the ball. Wary of bowling too full and playing into that strength, both bowlers pulled their lengths back. But that was the whole point of de Kock’s plan because if there is one shot he plays even better than the sweep it is the pull.
de Kock toyed with the mystery spinners the way they usually toy with opposition batters, sowing doubt in their minds and making them second-guess themselves.
On the occasion of de Kock playing his 50th Test match, his coach Mark Boucher said he would go on to play 100 more. As it turned out, he retired after just four more. Test cricket’s loss has been franchise cricket’s gain as de Kock exhibited that most coveted of all batting skills: the ability to take down the opposition’s best bowlers.
He was particularly brutal on KKR’s designated death bowler Andre Russell, carving him up for 42 runs in only 15 balls, including five fours and two sixes.
Upon getting his century, de Kock crumpled to his knees, first holding his head in his hands and then punching the DY Patil Stadium turf.
But he still wasn’t done. From 60 off 44, he ransacked 80 off 26. Nobody could stop him. Not until he’d made his highest score in T20 cricket, set the record for the highest opening partnership in IPL history, and ensured for only the fourth time that a team batting first had completed its full quota of overs without losing a single wicket.
For all the uproar around Umran Malik, there is another uncapped Indian fast bowler who has been just as good. Perhaps even better.
Super Giants had an opening and Rahul gambled once more, bringing on the batting allrounder Stoinis to tempt the opposition. Shreyas had no choice. He went for the big shot and was caught on the boundary.
This is how you construct an over against Andre Russell.
Hard length first ball. Nearly ends up as a catch at long-on. Then, with Russell back on strike, fast and short and out of his reach, twice. Then the yorker, tailing in at the last second, very nearly toppling him off his feet. Then the wide yorker.
When Russell fell in the 17th over, to another slower one from Mohsin, Knight Riders’ chances of victory were less than 1%. They needed 61 off 20 balls.
Rinku and Narine are an unlikely power-hitting pair but they can still power-hit. Enabled by a steady diet of length balls and yorkers turning into full-tosses, the two left-handers clobbered 40 off 14 deliveries and took us straight into the twilight zone.
Anything could happen.
And so it did. Rinku smoked Stoinis all over the park. Lewis pulled off a breathtaking one-handed catch, sprinting in full tilt off the cover boundary and then diving to his left. Finally, with 3 needed off the last ball, Stoinis demolished Umesh Yadav’s stumps.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo