In its 15 years of existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has witnessed many a player coming from wilderness to make a name for themselves.
Despite the narrow two-run defeat against Lucknow Super Giants, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Rinku Singh became the latest entrant in this list after he played a brilliant 40-run knock off 15 balls with two fours and four sixes and he nearly snatched the victory before Evin Lewis took a stunning catch to dismiss the 24-year-old batter from Aligarh in Marcus Stoinis’ final over. KKR needed 3 runs from 2 deliveries in a 211-run chase when Lewis pulled off the blinder.
Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum on Wednesday alluded to his remarkable journey from the small town of Aligarh, known more for its locks than cricketers, to becoming an IPL sensation.
McCullum, who’s known for his swashbuckling batting during his playing days, said that Rinku is an incredible player and he is someone worth investing in over the next few seasons of the tournament.
“Rinku is an incredible story, a man around the IPL for five years. He sat on the sidelines for so long and worked so hard, he has had to wait for his opportunity, he got it late in the tournament and he’s taken it,” McCullum said in the post-match press conference.
During the match, at one stage, KKR needed 77 off 30 and they looked clearly out of the race to make it to the playoffs. Billings was stumped in the 16th while Russell struggled his way to 5 off 11 before getting out in the 17th as KKR were crumbling under the pressure. But, it wasn’t as straightforward as LSG would have wanted as lower down the order, Rinku Singh (40 off 15) and Sunil Narine (21 not out off 7) showed the fighting spirit. With 38 needed off 12, Holder was taken for 17 by Rinku and Narine to leave 21 for the final over.
Rinku hit Marcus Stoinis for 4, 6, 6 in the first three balls and took a double on the fourth delivery of the last over as KKR needed 5 runs in 3 balls. However, in the fifth ball of the over, Rinku got out courtesy of a spectacular one-handed catch by Evin Lewis while diving across to his left.
With three runs needed off the last ball, Stoinis clean bowled Umesh Yadav and sealed a thrilling two-run win and playoff spot for LSG.
“He plays the game for all the right reasons that I love as a coach and as a fan of cricket as well. Rinku is a player who KKR will invest in, no doubt, over the next few years and we will see him progressing. Not too many people can bat like Rinku did and be able to pull games out of the fire. Really pleased for him,” he said.
McCullum, who is now set to take over as the head coach of the England Test, also praised Sunil Narine, who scored a seven-ball 21 against LSG and made vital partnership with Rinku Singh.
“Sunny (Narine), every now and then, is going to come off and play a significant hand that can win some games,” McCullum said.
“I am heading in a different direction with the challenge of being able to coach England, but I will be following the KKR boys and, particularly, Rinku. I really wish them all the best,” McCullum added.