'Umesh bhaiya told me, hit it, Rinku, don't think'

"Out of a hundred matches, you will win one like this," says KKR captain Nitish Rana

With Kolkata Knight Riders needing 29 runs off the last over against Gujarat Titans on Sunday, Rinku Singh pulled off a win which his captain Nitish Rana described as one in a hundred. How did he do it? Rinku's simple answer: "I just kept hitting."
Getting strike on the second ball of the final over after Umesh Yadav took a single off the first, Rinku hit five consecutive sixes off Yash Dayal to seal KKR's chase of 205.
"To be honest I was not thinking much. Just reacting to every ball," Rinku said at the post-match presentation. "I never thought I would hit five sixes. I just kept hitting. I had the belief. And we won the match."
Rinku finished unbeaten on 48 off 21 deliveries, with 40 of those runs coming off the last seven balls he faced.
"I had the inner belief that I can do it because I had also played [a similar] innings last year against Lucknow [Super Giants]. There also I had such a belief and today, too, I showed that belief. Rana bhai told me: "belief rakhiyo, aakhri tak kheliyo (keep the belief, stay till the end)," he said.
Umesh had similar words of advice for Rinku as he handed the strike over to the 25-year-old left-handed batter. "Bhaiya also told me, 'laga Rinku, sochiyo mat (hit it, don't think)."
Making this comeback all the more stunning was the backdrop in which it came about. Venkatesh Iyer had set up Knight Riders' chase with his 40-ball 83, but he fell to Alzarri Joseph in the 16th over. Rashid Khan got a hat-trick in the next over: Andre Russell fell for 1, and Sunil Narine and Shardul Thakur both fell for first-ball ducks.
"If you see, when we were bowling, we did well," Rana said. "It was just the last two overs [where they gave away 45runs]. After bowling 18 good overs, we had two bad overs. The same thing happened while we were batting with the Rashid Khan over, which completely put us on the back foot. But credit goes to Rinku Singh. If we have two points today, it's all because of Rinku Singh.
"People have asked me why Rinku Singh doesn't come in the top rankings and always plays smaller roles or secondary roles. Today, I would like to say, that if this is a secondary role, then you imagine what primary role he can play. And how important a player Rinku Singh is for me. In the last game, we saw that it was important to hold up one end and keep batting and he did that and today… If I were out there batting, then maybe I would have thought that I could chase it down, but in your heart you know what you are capable of and what you can't do. I don't have words to describe Rinku's innings."
The reason Knight Riders even believed in the impossible was that they had seen the same man (almost) pull it off once before. "Rinku had done it last year as well, although we didn't win the game then. But when he hit the second six [against Titans], the belief increased. Because Yash Dayal wasn't being able to execute, so somewhere, I did believe," Rana said. "As a captain, no matter what total we are chasing, it's very important to keep faith, but to be honest, out of a hundred matches, you will win one like this."
Venkatesh said that the win against the defending champions provided a valuable lesson - to not give up till the last ball. "It was a nail-biting finish and I'm extremely happy with the way we won the game. Our coach [Chandrakant Pandit] has always maintained that on any given day we can score 200. We saw that in the last game where only three players scored in double-figures and still we ended up scoring 200 and today was another example that our team will never give up and we can score 200 on any given day.
"Obviously when the target is 200 you can't have silent overs. You need boundaries and the momentum to go your way. Me and Nitish had a nice little partnership (100 off 55 for the third wicket) and that set the tone. Unfortunately we lost the way somewhere down the end but Lord Rinku saved us again.
"To be honest, we still believed that we can win from here (Rashid's hat-trick). Obviously he's a world class bowler and he did what he has been doing all these years We still believed because Rinku was there. We felt that we could still win this if we play out this over, in three overs we can chase anything. That exactly happened. This teaches us a lesson that we should never give up till the last ball."