This is your moment buddy - Shreyas message to Harshit

IPL 2024

On a night when batters had a feast at Eden Gardens, Harshit Rana had the last laugh.

KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer revealed that he had backed young pacer Harshit Rana to deliver against the odds in the final over of the thrilling encounter against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Kolkata on Saturday (March 23). KKR had their backs against the wall after a stunning assault from Heinrich Klaasen brought SRH back from the dead for a famous win.

A 26-run penultimate over from IPL's most expensive player Mitchell Starc put KKR on the backfoot in the run chase and when Harshit came on to bowl the final over defending just 12, he conceded a six first ball which pretty much signalled the end for the home side. However, the youngster held his nerve and took the pace off the ball to fetch the wickets of Shahbaz Ahmed and Klaasen and ensured Pat Cummins didn't put bat on ball off the final delivery to give KKR a 4-run victory.

"Right from the 17th over I had butterflies in my stomach," Shreyas said after the game. "And to be honest, in the last over I thought anything can happen, They needed 13 runs and we probably didn't have the most experienced bowler bowling at that particular time. But I had that belief in him. I knew that something would happen."

"This is the time where he could become a hero. That's what I told him. 'Back yourself. No matter what happens in this position, we're going to back you'. To be honest, he was a bit nervous when he was coming to bowl. I looked into his eyes and I told him 'this is your moment, buddy. You need to make the best use of it and don't think much about it. 'Even if we lose, it's fine. You just back yourself and you see to it that you execute whatever I say and what messages we got from inside'. It was a big cluster (of players) in between, but I tried to calm him down as much as possible and then the rest is history."

Prior to Harshit's heroics, it was the old guard that played a massive hand in KKR's win. Andre Russell was at his belligerent best with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 64 off just 25 deliveries including seven sixes. With the ball, he broke the dangerous opening stand and picked up one more wicket later in the innings. And then there was Sunil Narine. On a day where no other bowler across the two teams managed to concede below 8 an over, Narine finished with stunning figures of 1/19 off his four overs.

"They have such experience behind their back," Shreyas observed. "Andre Russell, the way he started I'm elated to see the way he performed today with the bat and the ball getting those two crucial wickets out there and running around on the field. And Sunny (Sunil Narine) he has been tremendous with the ball over the years and executing the way he always executes. It was fantastic to see these two perform at their best and it's like a luxury to have them in the team."

KKR also had contributions from Phil Salt and Ramandeep Singh in the evening, especially with the latter coming up with a stunning cameo that caught SRH off guard at a time when they were on top. KKR were reeling at 51/4 at one stage when Ramandeep walked in to smash four sixes in his 17-ball 35 that earned him rich praise from the opposition camp too. "It was a great innings," SRH head coach Daniel Vettori said. "I don't think we underestimated him but the shots he played were fantastic and put the pressure back on us.

"When you look at good T20 players, irrespective of the situation they are able to put pressure straight back on the bowling team and that's what he was able to do. Allowed Salt at the other end to play his game and there was no pressure on him to take too many risks."

On SRH's overseas conundrum, Vettori said they had made the decision to pick two players each for the batting and bowling department rather than strengthening one area in particular. The likes of Travis Head and Glenn Phillips had to be left out as a result. "I think it's difficult to leave out everyone," he conceded. "I think you can ask the same question to every franchise. We are lucky to have that quality but the decision was around to try and compliment the local batting and bowling rather than just being dominant in one area so we thought the 2-2 split would suit us better."