Welcome to the series where we present you an iconic moment, a thrilling game in history that changed the outlook with which we see the game, in our weekly segment ‘Throwback Thursday.' Today, we relive Rabada tormenting Russell in Super Over, last year, to pull off a win from the jaws of defeat.
It’s March 31, 2019, and we are here at iconic Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium where Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders, two of the most exhilarating teams in the IPL, are clashing in the tenth match of the season. This incredible match which had the ebbs and flows of an IPL classic began on March 30, but now it's a new day as the clock has gone past 12, and still after 40 overs of a carnival, a batting carnage, a bowling masterclass, we don't have a winner yet. For a change, Delhites are more concerned about the outcome of the game, then boarding the last metro, as the hosts need to defend 11 off the Super Over to be bowled by Kagiso Rabada with Andre 'hulk' Russell taking the strike. Wait, hold your horses, what madness happened in the first 40 overs and the first Super Over, that we have reached this far? Let's find out the endearing story.
After finishing at 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 6th, 8th, Delhi had shown more ‘dreadfulness’ than daredevilry in IPL, no wonder they changed to Delhi Capitals for the 2019 season. Letting the likes of Warner, de Villiers, Russell, Maxwell, Karthik, Tahir, and Morris go, and having purchased players like Pawan Negi for a whopping 8.5 crores, IPL has certainly not been Delhi’s thing. But since 2018, they have hit the nail on its head getting someone like Ricky Ponting and then appointing young Shreyas Iyer to lead the team mid-way through the season, exemplifying that they mean business and aren’t just passengers now.
With the likes of Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Kagiso Rabada, Sandeep Lamichhane, Chris Morris, they assembled arguably their best unit. Ponting was certainly no Gary Kirsten or Rahul Dravid and didn’t want to settle for anything less than victory, no matter what. They started off their season with a smashing win over Mumbai Indians that too at their place, humiliating them in front of their own people. But Chennai did the same to them with the ease of a master, so going into the game against Kolkata Knight Riders, it was a monumental clash as they needed to master winning at home as they had won just four of seven games in their den, which when compared to CSK was terrible as the Men in Yellow won six of their seven home games in 2018 IPL.
For Kolkata Knight Riders, they were fast emerging as the new dynasty with two titles and qualification to playoffs on four occasions since 2011. They had an indomitable batting line-up with Karthik, Russell, Rana, Lynn, Narine, none scoring less than 300 runs in 2018 IPL where they finished at the third spot. As dominating a side as they were, they annihilated SRH and KXIP in their first two games, victories headlined by Andre Russell’s freakish power-hitting at home.
The crowd in Delhi was waving the flags of their side as they could sense hope, an expectation of a turnaround, the gist of the game that makes it the sport we love- Unpredictability, in a new year with a fairly new and young side. It was a mouth-watering battle between a galaxy of stars- DC bowling: Rabada, Morris, Mishra, Lamichhane vs KKR batting: Lynn, Russell, DK, Rana, Gill. But Delhi’s bowling spun heads as they reduced the heavyweight KKR batting line-up, which had prowled against Punjab and Hyderabad, to 61 for 5. But then came the DK-Russell storm with the West Indian taking his legend to unimaginable heights.
To put things into perspective, the Jamaican was dumped by the Delhi franchise two years after they picked him up in 2012, not giving many chances to him. You tend to forgive but not forget these things, certainly not the six-hitting-machine from Jamaica, who in 2018 IPL had tonked DC bowlers and made a 12-ball-41 to go with a 44, with as many as 10 sixes Jeez!
Russell, who had blasted the mickey out of the bowlers with 19-ball-49 and 17-ball-48 in the first two games, showed he can rebuild innings as well and alongside Dinesh Karthik led KKR batting as they hammered 124 off final 10.5 overs to help them to 185. The beamer by Harshal Patel had woken up the hulk part of madman Dre Russ, the only difference being he turned red then green, blasting 62 at a strike-rate of 221.42 with six sixes, with the same effect. All this became easy peasy for him as the Russell era of power-hitting had dawned in the IPL. But on the Kotla pitch, which was flat, it wasn’t out of reach by any means unless the third-rate Delhi side turned up in the 185 run-chase.
Delhi Capitals didn’t get the best of starts losing Dhawan early but Shreyas Iyer and more so, Prithvi Shaw stamped his class, as they added 89 runs for second-wicket. KKR bowling wasn’t the strongest and all they needed was to plunder their top bowler Kuldeep Yadav for 33 in his first two overs to expose them. For poetry's sake, for Delhi fans, for his mentor Ponting, Shaw showcased his class with strokeplay of a master painter at his expressionist best.
But, wait, will KKR surrender that easily? The same KKR that won seven of the last 10 encounters between the two sides. Hell no! They sent back Shaw on a heartbreaking 99, keeping intact, their record of not conceding a century in the second innings since 2011. But wasn’t it too less and too late? They needed 12 off nine with six wickets in hand. Even a third-rate Delhi won’t bottle it up. KKR gave away just 11 in the final nine deliveries as Kuldeep Yadav redeemed himself and the match ended in a freaking tie, as we witnessed one of the greatest IPL bottle ups, courtesy sloppy DC middle-order.
That meant we had the first Super Over of the season. It might have been late in the night but Delhites were relishing this as they had gathered in tens and thousands cheering their lungs out, going ‘Delhi Delhi, Delhi’. After all, it's 'Dilwalon ki Dilli'. Amid much fanfare, Iyer and Pant walked out but youngster Prasidh Krishna gave away just 10.
It’s 12:07 PM, Andre Russell was padded up and shadow practising, rotating his shoulders and one could sense the calm beneath the mad head that romps bowlers all around. It’s akin to the silence before the storm. Russell, at best, needed just two sixes, which didn’t look a big deal given the short boundaries of Kotla and his dominance, which saw him pummel 15 sixes thus far in three games. Being a six-hitting machine, he was born to do this job day-in-day-out.
On the other hand, there was Kagiso Rabada, assigned to bowl the Super Over, a man, who felt like a misfit in the circus of T20s and found his peace and chutzpah in white jersey with the red-ball. Having taken four wickets in three games, and gone for 41 in the game, even getting hit by Chawla and Kuldeep in the game, it was a David vs Goliath battle. But we all knew, how big a fighter KG Rabada was. He had taken on the Stokes, the Smiths of the world with his doggedness, grit, bull-headedness backed by a meticulous skill set. The task was bigger, his form was poor, the opponent was a freaking genius, but all you need is heart, that’s what symbolizes human spirit, also cricket.
On expected lines, Dre Russ turned a potential yorker into a low-full-toss to start off with a boundary. He was one up, determined to make Delhi repent for nth time for releasing the Jamaican from the club when he was just coming up the ladder. The same Rabada who was chilling with Dhawan, a while back, in the dressing room in his shorts, was now amid hostility of a battle that had the potential to be remembered for ages between two superstars of the game in a do-or-die and high stakes encounter.
Rabada being a champion that he has been, loved getting into fights and swaying the opponents with his might. With seven required off five, Rabada aced a block-hole yorker, which forget Russell, even Dhoni wouldn't have been able to dig out. Seven was needed off four now, all the gleaming eyes were fixated on Russell and Rabada. KKR had lost both the Super Over games they had played, so would it be Russell smashing KG for a six and rewriting history or the Proteas pacer will deliver the knockout punch?