Rinku Singh
Rinku Singh of Kolkata Knight Riders lashes a six in the Tata Indian Premier League match against the Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on April 9, 2023. Rinku’s five sixes in a row in the final over gave KKR an improbable win. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

6, 6, 6, 6, 6: that’s five sixes. Those five sixes came from the blazing blade of Rinku Singh, whose six-hitting spree lifted the Kolkata Knight Riders to an unlikely victory over IPL champions Gujarat Titans.

Stand-in captain Rashid Khan had swung the Sunday’s match in Ahmedabad Gujarat’s way with a hat-trick (his record fourth in T20 games) in the 17th over. In the last over, when Kolkata needed 29 for a win, Umesh Yadav scurried across for a single that handed over the strike to Rinku.

KKR required 28 balls in 5 balls: that means four sixes and a four. Rinku didn’t have the time to do the maths. Final-over nerves caught up with Gujarat seamer Yash Dayal, who sent down three full tosses, which Rinku lashed them over extra-cover, square-leg and long-off in that order.

Two more balls left and 10 runs to get. Dayal tried a slower one, and Rinku heaved it over long-on. With only four to get, Dayal pitched the last ball short, and Rinku clobbered straight over the field.

Pandemonium, sheer pandemonium. Kolkata skipper Nitish Rana raced into the field, lifted Rinku, and the other teammates piled on and nearly smothered him. The 25-year-old helped KKR snatch a three-wicket win from the jaws of defeat. An incredible victory, indeed.

Five sixes in an over is not a novelty in IPL. Three others have accomplished the feat, and Chennai Super King allrounder Ravindra Jadeja’s blitzkrieg against Harshal Patel of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2021 remains fresh in memory. UAE cricket watchers will remember the barrage of Rajasthan Royals’ Rahul Tewatia against Sheldon Cottrell of the Kings XI Punjab (presently Punjab Kings) in Sharjah 2020.

Chris Gayle’s heroics for RCB

The first five sixes in a row belonged to Chris Gayle. That was in 2021 when the RCB batter despatched Pune Warriors’ Rahul Sharma for 30 runs in five balls. Unlike Rinku’s feat, none of the previous three efforts was in the final over. That pressure makes the Kolkata batter’s six-hitting all the more creditable.

There’s one parallel in cricketing folklore. Carlos Brathwaite’s name is forever associated with final over heroics after the 2016 World Cup. The West Indian slammed four sixes in a row in the last over when his team needed 19 runs to beat England in the final at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Ben Stokes was the hapless bowler.

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That was the World Cup, a bigger stage. The pressure is different. It was four sixes in a row. Rinku’s was in the IPL, and it was five sixes. That’s the difference.

Did anyone expect Rinku, who hails from a farmer's family in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, to pull it off? None really. But there was no doubt about his potential. He had shown glimpses of it in the IPL last year. The youngster was on a rampage against the Lucknow Super Giants, scoring 40 off 15 balls, and had smashed Marcus Stoinis for back-to-back sixes when a breathtaking catch by Ewin Lewis cut him down in full flight. That knock marked him out as a power hitter.

Even in the previous game against the RCB, Rinku smashed a 33-ball 46, as he watched Shardul Thakur hammer the bowlers for a 29-ball 68. So for the Kolkata team, the cameo wasn’t a surprise. But to do that in the final over for a win is beyond belief.

More power to Rinku.