Not even the world’s best batters would have backed themselves to hit five consecutive sixes with their team requiring 28 from the last five balls, but KKR’s left-handed Rinku did exactly that, producing a terrific knock that will be remembered and talked about for years.
Rinku’s 48 not out from 21 balls included six sixes and one four, with KKR nailing down a 200 plus chase in dying moments in the game.
It was perhaps the most unlikely yet a sensational victory in IPL history, against the rampaging Gujarat Titans for whom their stand-in captain Rashid Khan had almost sealed the deal with the first hat-trick of this season.
While Rinku’s story will also feature among the ‘rags to riches’ story with the cricketer now having a contract worth Rs 55 lakh with KKR, it is extraordinary because what transpired on Sunday evening was the culmination of all the hard work put in by the 25-year-old and the unwavering faith and support from the KKR franchise.
Hailing from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, Rinku comes from a lower-middle-class family. His father delivered LPG cylinders while in the 2015-16 season when they had a debt of Rs 5 lakh, Rinku, while playing for the UP under-19 side, began saving from his daily allowance and even took up the job of a domestic worker where he would have been required to sweep and mop.
“My father struggled a lot, I come from a farmer’s family. Every ball that I hit out of the ground was dedicated to the people who sacrificed so much for me,” Rinku said after his match-winning knock.
One of the earliest products of the KKR academy, Rinku has worked extensively with the team’s assistant coach Abhishek Nayar and the results were there in Ranji Trophy as well.
If there was heartbreak at the end in their nervous chase against Lucknow Super Giants last year when he hit a 15-ball 40 with KKR needing 21 from the last over, there was light at the end of the tunnel for Rinku who did one better on Sunday with praise coming from all corners.
Not being able to take his side over the line certainly left a lasting impression as Rinku recalled it on Sunday.
“(I) had the belief that I could do it. Last year I was in a similar situation in Lucknow. Had the belief back then too. Didn’t think too much out there. Those shots just happened one after the other. That last one was back of the hand, and I struck it off the back foot,” he said.
KKR skipper for this season Nitish Rana said, “Rinku did something like this last year, although we didn’t win that match. When the second six was struck, we started believing more because Yash Dayal wasn’t executing that well. Credit goes to Rinku Singh.
“The two points we have from this game are thanks to him. People asked me why Rinku Singh doesn’t get a bigger role, and always plays a small role. I want to say to those reporters if this is the second role, imagine what he can do with the first role. Last match he played a different role, and he did it well. I don’t have words for him.”
Venkatesh Iyer, who anchored the chase with a stunning 83 from 40 balls, told the media, “This match will be remembered for the Lord Rinku show. Everyone (would have) ruled us out for the last two overs but to comeback from there and win is something that I know will not happen everyday. We are going to cherish this game for a very long time.”