Andre Russell was due to come good for Kolkata Knight Riders. Rinku Singh has been consistently coming for Kolkata Knight Riders. The two combined to take the side past the finish line in Kolkata on Monday as they defeated Punjab Kings in another last-ball finish in the 2023 season of Indian Premier League.

Chasing Punjab’s 179/7, KKR needed 26 off the last two overs. Russell smashed three sixes in Sam Curran’s 19th over to all but take his side home. But Arshdeep Singh delivered a near-perfect final over that saw Russell (42 off 23 balls) get run out off the penultimate ball. But Rinku (21* off 10) was on strike to hit the winning runs yet again for his side, smashing a full toss past fine leg for a four.

In a crowded points table, KKR moved to fifth and joined four other teams on 10 points, and with a healthy run-rate to go with it. PBKS remained on 10 points and missed a chance to go third.

Kolkata looked in trouble at 124-4 while chasing 180 for victory when Russell and Rinku put on a destructive partnership of 54 to win by five wickets at their home Eden Gardens.

Rinku, who smashed five sixes on the final five balls in a match-winning knock for Kolkata last month to become an IPL sensation, hit the winning boundary off Arshdeep Singh.

“I didn’t think about the last ball. Even when I hit those five sixes, I hadn’t thought much,” said an elated Rinku.

“I was playing on the merit of the ball. I had the belief in me that I could finish the game.”

Player of the match Russell said, “When I have Rinku at the other end I am not worried. I have confidence in him. I get goosebumps when I see what he is doing now. I have company at the backend.”

Russell also added they had decided to run off the penultimate ball knowing that Rinku is capable of finishing the match, more so with a left-handed pacer bowling into him.

Skipper Nitish Rana set up the chase with his 51 after England’s Jason Roy, who came in as an impact player, gave the home team a solid start with his 38 off 24 balls but a few wickets set Kolkata back.

But the Russell-Rinku combination tore into the opposition attack as Kolkata hammered 53 runs in the final four overs to pocket their fifth win in 11 matches.

Spinner Varun Chakravarthy set up victory with bowling figures of 3-26 including the key wicket of Liam Livingstone, lbw for 15, as Punjab finished on 179-7.

Skipper Shikhar Dhawan’s 57 and late cameos boosted Punjab’s total with 36 runs from the last two overs, but the effort was not enough.

Fast bowler Harshit Rana provided the early breakthroughs including Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa for a duck.

Varun and Suyash, who got Punjab’s big buy Curran caught behind four, combined to choke the flow of runs with their leg spin.

The left-handed Dhawan attempted to keep up the charge despite getting little support from the other end as he reached his third fifty of the season before departing in the 15th over.

GT 11 8 3 0 0.951 16 WWLWW
CSK 11 6 4 1 0.409 13 WNLLW
LSG 11 5 5 1 0.294 11 LNLWL
RR 11 5 6 0 0.388 10 LLLWL
KKR 11 5 6 0 -0.079 10 WWLWL
RCB 10 5 5 0 -0.209 10 LWLWW
PBKS 11 5 6 0 -0.441 10 LLWLW
MI 10 5 5 0 -0.454 10 LWWLL
SRH 10 4 6 0 -0.472 8 WLWLL
DC 10 4 6 0 -0.529 8 WWLWW

With AFP inputs