A vintage century from Quinton de Kock and two wickets from the last two balls of Marcus Stoinis helped Lucknow Super Giants regain second place in the IPL after registering a thrilling two-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Wednesday. Lucknow, leaving behind the loss of the previous two matches, plied on a mammoth score of 210 runs without losing any wicket in 20 overs and took the tough challenge of Kolkata to 208 for eight in 20 overs. It was Lucknow’s ninth win in 14 matches and has moved up to second on the table with 18 points, while Kolkata suffered their eighth loss in 14 matches and were left on 12 points.
De Kock scored an unbeaten 140 off 70 balls, the highest score of his T20 career, after getting three lives. Meanwhile, this South African wicket-keeper batsman hit 10 sixes and as many fours. Rahul played an unbeaten 68 off 51 balls with the help of three fours and four sixes. With this, Lucknow, batting first, made a huge score of 210 runs without any loss. In reply, KKR scored 208 runs for eight wickets. For them, captain Shreyas Iyer (50 off 29 balls, four fours, three sixes), Nitish Rana (42 off 22 balls, nine fours) and Sam Billings (36 off 24 balls, two fours, three sixes) scored runs. But no one was able to prolong his innings.
However Rinku Singh (40 off 15 balls, two fours, four sixes) and Sunil Narine (21 not out off seven balls, three sixes) took KKR closer to victory in the last moments. When KKR needed three runs from two balls, Stoinis (3 for 23 in two overs) turned the tables on Rinku with the help of a brilliant catch from Evin Lewis off Rinku Singh and clean bowling Umesh . Mohsin Khan also took three wickets for 20 runs bowling brilliantly .
Lucknow thus ended their campaign in the league stage with a win. They have 18 points from nine wins. This was KKR’s eighth loss in 14 matches, which also saw them out of the tournament. De Kock and Rahul shared the highest partnership for the first wicket and the third highest overall in IPL. This is the first time in IPL that a team batting first has not lost any wicket in its entire 20 overs.
In contrast, KKR lost the wicket of Venkatesh Iyer (nil) in the first over itself. Mohsin, after getting him caught brilliantly at the hands of de Kock, also had another opener Abhijit Tomar (four) in his next over, whose catch was taken by Rahul. When the belligerent Rana hit five fours in the first over of Avesh Khan, Shreyas immediately changed the nature of the innings by hitting two fours and a six on Jason Holder and appeared in beast mode . Rana also welcomed off-spinner Krishnappa Gautam with three fours to take the team’s score to 60 in the powerplay, but he gave an easy catch at long off in the next over of the same bowler.
Billings, who came in place of Rana, hit a six and two fours on Avesh while Shreyas hit a four off the first ball of the 11th over to take KKR’s score past 100 runs. Billings hit a six in Ravi Bishnoi’s over, forcing Rahul and de Kock to negotiate.
Mohsin then brought some relief to Lucknow by giving away just two runs in the 13th over, while Stoinis got Shreyas caught in the next over with a slow delivery, who had earlier completed his half-century off 28 balls. This also ended his 66-run partnership with Billings. Billings was finally stumped off Bishnoi.
Mohsin ended KKR’s hopes by dismissing Andre Russell (five), but Rinku showed a lot of fire from here . KKR needed 21 runs in the last over. Rinku , who looked in belligerent touch along with Narine , hit two sixes and a four on the first three balls of Stoinis over but Lewis turned the dice by taking a brilliant one handed catch after running long distance . Off the final ball Stoinis bowled Umesh Yadav and Lucknow started their wild celebrations while Narine was stranded on 21 off 7 balls .
Earlier, after winning the toss, Rahul and De Kock got the Lucknow team off to a very good start and went to bat first. Both of them added 44 runs in the powerplay. When de Kock was on 12, Abhijit Tomar dropped his catch, which he celebrated by hitting Umesh Yadav for a six. Rahul also sent the ball for six runs in the next over of this bowler.
De Kock welcomed Andre Russell for a six, while Rahul displayed his aggressive nature by hitting two consecutive sixes on Tim Southee and meanwhile took his run count beyond 500 in the current season. De Kock completed his fifty off 36 balls and hit a six on Sunil Narine to take the team’s score to triple digits in the 13th over. He punished KKR by hitting two sixes and a four on Varun Chakraborty after getting another lifeline off Naraine’s ball. Meanwhile, Rahul completed his fifty in 41 balls.
De Kock now targeted Russell and hit him for a six and then a four to complete his second century in the IPL, for which he played 59 balls. After hitting three consecutive sixes on Southee he hit four consecutive fours on Russell. In the meantime, he also got life for the third time. It was a brilliant knock full of authentic shots all around the ground specially his pull shots were worth traveling miles to watch . He won the player of the match but not before a thrilling finish in which KKR nearly snatched away a win .