If only words could do justice to what we witnessed in Ahmedabad
Over the last couple of years, the Narendra Modi Stadium has been one of the most iconic venues, with plenty of high-profile games hosted at the ground in front of a capacity crowd.
At the outset, the clash between the Gujarat Titans and the Kolkata Knight Riders seemed to be pretty lopsided, with the defending champions expected to steamroll over their counterparts.
However, three hours into the game that witnessed two scintillating innings from Vijay Shankar and Venkatesh Iyer, the fans were enthralled with a hat-trick from magician Rashid Khan that dismantled the run chase for the visiting team.
29 runs required off the last six deliveries for the Kolkata Knight Riders, with Umesh Yadav and Rinku Singh out in the middle.
Not many people gave them a chance.
But as cliched, as it may sound, the game ain't over till it's over.
Coming in to bat at number five, with the visiting side requiring 77 runs off 41 deliveries, the youngster from Uttar Pradesh proved precisely that.
After a couple of dot deliveries to get used to the conditions on offer and a single towards fine-leg, Rinku was off the mark. While there were murmurs around the ground if it was the right decision to send Rinku ahead of Andre Russell, the southpaw delivered in the most astonishing manner to shut down his critics.
The 25-year-old was at the other end when Rashid weaved his magic to spin a web around the Knight Riders in the back end of the innings. It was down to Rinku and Umesh to pull off a heist and halt the Titans' juggernaut.
A single from Umesh on the first delivery, and it was on the shoulders of Rinku to guide the team over the line.
19.2: Full and outside the off-stump, Rinku launches it over long-off for the first six.
19:3 Low full toss on the leg stump, and the left-hander flicks it over square leg for another maximum.
The Knight Riders start to believe, and the pressure was building on Yash Dayal.
What followed later will be etched in the memory of every Knight Riders fan as the southpaw pulled off the unthinkable by slamming two consecutive sixes to get the equation down to four off the final delivery.
A lengthy meeting between the bowler and the think tank of the reigning champions and all eyes were on two domestic talents on possibly the biggest stage of their career.
19:6 As the left-arm seamer charged in, Rinku opens his stance and launches it over long-on to finish off the game in style and rewrite the record books.
The Kolkata Knight Riders ran towards their hero and bow down to the LORD as he managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
"We had belief because Rinku had done something similar last year, although we did not win," said Nitish Rana in the post-match presentation.
And in case you're wondering which game this is, it was against the Lucknow Super Giants, where the southpaw smashed 40 off 15 deliveries and was dismissed in the last over with five runs required off three balls.
Although the Knights lost the game, Rinku won many hearts and also learnt a lesson on the importance of staying calm under pressure.
He is indeed a superhero who has turned the fortunes of his family after making his mark in the Indian Premier League. Coming from a humble background with a family struggling to meet ends, Rinku was set to join as a sweeper to support his family before running away to pursue his passion for the sport.
After undergoing gruelling sessions in his hometown Aligarh, Rinku graduated through the ranks of domestic cricket for Uttar Pradesh before joining the Knight Riders in 2018.
While the chances were sparse in the first three seasons, there was no dearth of commitment from him as he aimed to absorb all the learnings from the international stars and replicate them in local tournaments.
With the performances slowly starting to make noise in the domestic circuit, Rinku was set to be the next big thing in the middle order of the Knight Riders. However, destiny had other ideas, as he was injured while attempting a second run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in early 2021.
"The moment I fell, I thought of the IPL. They told me I needed an operation and would require seven months to recover. I wasn't happy staying away from cricket for so long," he said in a conversation with kkr.in.
Unfortunately for him and the boys in Purple and Gold, Rinku missed the extravaganza in 2021 and was unsure if any franchise would pick him in the mega auction ahead of the 2022 auction considering his lukewarm performances in the league.
“Going through rehab for four months, and suddenly nobody is talking about Rinku Singh, not knowing whether he will be picked in the auction. Just for him to retrospect and spend some time understanding where his game is has brought a lot of maturity in his game,” said Abhishek Nayar.
The 25-year-old once again managed to rise from the bottom and carve a niche for himself in the last edition of the tournament. Despite playing only seven games, Rinku was the lone bright spot for the team as he amassed 174 runs at an average of 34.8 and a strike rate of 148.7.
The runs started flowing for the left-hander, and he entered this tournament on the back of a consistent performance in the Ranji Trophy for Uttar Pradesh with 442 runs in eight innings at an average of 63.14.
Yes, the format is different but runs under the belt for any batter is sure to give them immense confidence every time they step onto the field.
While the opening clash against the Punjab Kings did not pan out well for him and the team, he bounced back with a brilliant 46 against the Bangalore outfit to give the team a happy homecoming after four long years.
And with their fate hanging by a thread in this high-voltage clash, he displayed an array of strokes all around the ground to give us glimpses of things to follow for the Knight Riders and Indian cricket.
"In the beginning, he was someone who could provide a partnership for someone else to win a game for KKR, but I think this year his thought process is about Rinku Singh can win this game for KKR,” explained Nayar after his heroics against Super Giants in 2022.
“I'm proud of Rinku for everything," he concluded.
Well, not only him but the whole of Kolkata and their fans are rejoicing as they have unearthed yet another superstar.
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