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IPL 2022: Rahul, de Kock help Lucknow seal playoff spot, show Kolkata the door


Lucknow Super Giants had racked up the records. Highest opening stand ever in the IPL, between Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul. Third-highest individual score ever in the IPL, from de Kock. The first time in the league’s history that a team batting first hadn’t lost a single wicket in the full 20 overs.

But Kolkata Knight Riders stunned LSG with a brave chase. They kept swinging fours and sixes regardless of the wickets they were constantly losing. And Rinku Singh seemed to have landed the knockout blow – with 21 needed off the last over, he had clubbed a four and two sixes off the first three balls from Marcus Stoinis. Another two runs were scrambled off the fourth and KKR needed a mere three off the last two deliveries.

Evin Lewis had played his last match on April 7, six weeks ago. He hadn’t got a chance to bat on Wednesday evening. But when Rinku sliced a full and wide ball over cover, Lewis sprinted across from deep point. Rahul was after the ball too from cover, but there was no way he was making it, and it appeared even Lewis wouldn’t. At the last instant, he went sliding on the turf, and his outstretched left hand plucked the dying ball safely.

Stoinis had been dealing in cutters and wide ones, but seeing Umesh Yadav now, he went for the yorker. And as soon as the bails turned red, he set off on a wild run. He’d pushed LSG into the playoffs with their last delivery of the league phase, and dumped KKR out with the same ball.

To retire or not?

“At the end of the 18th over, we sent in a message saying, ‘if you guys are too tired hitting the ball hard, you can retire and we’ll send some of our big hitters in,’” LSG head coach Andy Flower said during the innings break.

After 18 overs, LSG were 164 for no loss. Their dugout’s thought was that a new batsman could have a better chance of clearing or finding the boundary than two veterans who had been in the middle for 108 deliveries. De Kock was clearly tiring but had picked up pace in the last two-three overs to reach a 59-ball century in the 18th. But Rahul was clearly struggling to middle his attempted hits, and had consumed 49 balls for his 61. Was the retiring-out message meant for the captain himself? The message had been delivered indeed but as it turned out, the reply was a ‘no.’

Rahul proceeded to bash Tim Southee into the sightscreen first ball of the 19th, and de Kock showed his exhaustion wasn’t impacting his hitting. It didn’t matter what Southee tried – full, slow and wide towards the slightly longer boundary; short, slow and wide; good length on the stumps. With all the casual confidence of a man batting on a hundred, de Kock launched him over the straight boundary three times in succession.

In the last over, he squeezed a near-yorker from Andre Russell past backward point for four and went on to hack three more fours off the next three balls. De Kock’s acceleration was incredible; he reached 50 off 36, surged to the ton in the next 23 balls and then took another 39 off his last 11 deliveries.

He was back after 10 minutes in the humidity to keep wicket, and after Stoinis had done the improbable, a relieved de Kock, shaking his head, walked up to his teammate to thank him. Wonder what Rahul would have told Stoinis, the man who’d have probably replaced him if the skipper had retired out.





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