Harshit Rana held his nerve in the final over to help Kolkata Knight Riders clinch a nervy four-run win against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, in the 2024 Indian Premier League on Saturday.

Despite Heinrich Klassen’s half-century and a cameo from Shahbaz Ahmed of 16 off 5 balls, Sunrisers managed to get to 204/7, but fell just short of the 209-run target.

Rana had 13 runs to defend in the final over after both Varun Chakravarthy and record signing Mitchell Starc conceded 21 and 26 runs in the 18th and 19th overs respectively. The Kolkata bowler was hit for a six by the South African batter before taking the wickets of Ahmed and then Klassen with slower balls to seal the victory.

Earlier in the day, the Hyderabad side began things well after opting to bowl first. Reducing Kolkata to 51/4 and 119/6 with opener Phil Salt the only settled batter in. Andre Russell then fought back in style, striking an unbeaten 64 off 25 balls with three boundaries and seven sixes. The West Indian all-rounder had Rinku Singh to accompany him in an 81-run partnership that powered the home side to 208/7.

Turning point of the match

When Russell walked out to bat, Kolkata were six wickets down for just 119 in the 16th over. As Sunrisers captain Pat Cummins said after the match, “Dre Russ did what he does best”.

Helped by the ball coming a little more cleanly on to the bat as opposed to when Salt was batting earlier in the innings, Russell began the proceedings with three sixes off Mayank Markande.

Then came a moment when the Sunrisers thought they had stopped the onslaught – Aiden Markram claimed a catch in the deep after Russell slogged one to long-off. A tense moment at Eden Gardens before the Smart Review adjudged through relatively clear replays that the South African had not taken the catch cleanly and Kolkata fans breathed a sigh of relief.

What then followed was classic Russell batting – dismantling a good bowling effort from the first 16 overs and turning it into pieces. A no-ball from Bhuvaneshwar Kumar which Russell hit for a boundary, was the second of three he would hit in his innings.

Klassen nearly eclipsed his innings with his effort of 63 off 29 balls, but Rana made sure that Russell earned the Player of the Match trophy in the end.

The Field’s player of the match

There were a lot of contenders for this match – the obvious choice being Russell or even a consolation prize for Klassen. But considering that all the other Kolkata bowlers went for over eight runs an over, The Field’s player of the match goes to veteran West Indian spinner Sunil Narine.

Much like his compatriot Russell, Narine has been a mainstay for the Kolkata franchise for a number of years. And for all those years, the 36-year-old has always been the bowler that puts the screw on the opposition’s batting.

On Saturday at Eden Gardens, Narine proved that age doesn’t really matter – the West Indian conceded 19 runs in his four-over spell and picked up the wicket of Rahul Tripathi.

Keeping in mind how Klassen went about his innings in the end, leaving Sunrisers needing 13 off the last over, those four tight overs from Narine definitely helped Kolkata take control of proceedings significantly until the end.

‘Really want to play like Russell’

Kolkata was in dire straits. On one end, Salt was striking the ball well en route his half-century. On the other end however, the English opener had lost four of his partners, including captain Shreyas Iyer and Nitish Rana.

Then walked in Ramandeep Singh, the batter from Punjab who was coming off a successful-enough domestic season. With confidence, and some help from the pitch, Ramandeep helped Salt stabilise things out in the middle with a 54-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

His innings of 35 off 17 balls included one boundary and four sixes. The Indian batter was the clear aggressor in the partnership with Salt and orchestrated the basis for Kolkata’s revival before Russell and Rinku came on to finish things off.

“I was really enjoying my time in the middle and was trying to play with intent. It’s all thanks to Gauti paaji [Gautam Gambhir] and Abhishek Nayar sir. I was striking pretty well in domestic cricket. The way these guys have backed me is tremendous. I really want to play like that [like Russell]. Maybe one day I will play like that! I really loved the atmosphere at the ground.”

— – Ramandeep Singh, on his batting against Sunrisers Hyderabad