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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 witnessed numerous breathtaking knocks that thrilled the fans to no end. To pick the ten stand-out performances wasn’t the easiest task, but there were a few that beat the rest in the race.
Here is the list of the top 10 innings of the IPL 2013:
1. David Miller — 101 not out (38 balls, 8×4, 7×6) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
This knock heads the charts, beating Chris Gayle’s epic 175. While Gayle’s effort was monumental, Miller’s innings tops the list simply because of the pressure under which it was scripted. Chasing 191, Kings XI Punjab were in a hopeless position at 68 for four in 10 overs. Miller then gradually started upping the ante as he found the boundary every over. However, the momentum shifted in the 14th over. After smashing two fours and a six, Miller was dropped by Virat Kohli — a catch that would have sealed Punjab’s fate in all likelihood. With 79 required off 36, Miller stuck into Rudra Pratap Singh and milked 26 runs off the next over. The boundary fest continued as Miller targeted Ravi Rampaul and R Vinay Kumar, hitting them for 16 and 18 runs respectively. Throughout the innings, he targeted the areas down the ground and carted deliveries with tremendous power. He then finished it off in style by giving Gayle a taste of his own medicine — lofting the ball high over his head and into the stands to complete a century off only 38 balls. Punjab had scored over 99 runs in their last five overs to win with 12 balls to spare.
2. Chris Gayle — 175 not out (66 balls, 13×4, 17×6) vs Pune Warriors India
An innings of epic proportions, that would live in memory for years to come. Gayle’s feats have always stunned cricket fans, but this was something out of this world. It almost looked as if the big West Indian indulged in a game of gulley cricket, rather than facing professional cricketers. He usually takes his time to get in, but was in overdrive from the word go. A century came off only 30 balls — a world record in any format. The boundaries were shamed as the ball sailed high and long to all parts of the ground. A double hundred was in sight, but he slowed down by his standards as his last 75 came off 36 balls. What could the bowlers do on that? Nothing but pray for mercy — probably that too wouldn’t have worked.
3. David Miller — 80 not out (41 balls, 5×4, 5×6) vs Pune Warriors India
This season could prove to be career changing for Miller. The young South African came into limelight with the magnificent hundred, but before that he dazzled with a few other innings. His unbeaten innings of 80 against Pune was a sign of things to come as he won them the game from an iffy position. Punjab were chasing a huge 186 and had lost three wickets for 58 in the seventh over. Miller came in and formed a good partnership with Mandeep. Taking pressure off the Indian youngster, he attacked the bowling and bludgeoned five fours and five maximums. He was cautious early on and unleashed his fury as the innings progressed. It was still anybody’s game in the slog overs, but the batsmen were well set. With 16 to get off the last over, Miller cracked two sixes to seal the deal.
4. Kieron Pollard 60 not out (32 balls) vs Chennai Super Kings
The big man finally came good with the bat for Mumbai Indians this season. His best innings came when it mattered the most — in the final. Mumbai were rocked by Chennai early and it looked like the men in yellow would run away with the game. However, Pollard came and looked in a different zone. He absorbed the pressure and targeted the boundaries with a sensible approach. Having done all the hard work in resurrecting Mumbai’s innings, he put the cherry on top of the cake by hitting two sixes to finish the innings. That pushed Mumbai to 148, which they defended successfully to win the title.
5. Kieron Pollard 66 not out (27 balls, 2×4, 8×6) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
There is nothing the bowlers can do when Pollard is in the six-hitting mood. Hyderabad put up a good total of 178 and were looking good when they had Mumbai at 99 for three in the 14th over. Pollard walked in to join Rohit Sharma and literally snatched the game from Hyderabad’s grasp. Thisara Perera was punished severely as he erred in length. That over (17th) went for 29 runs as Pollard punished anything short or in the arc. Amit Mishra was summoned to exploit Pollard’s apparent weakness against slow bowling, but he too was smashed for three huge sixes as the West Indian completed his fifty off only 20 balls. Mumbai needed a run a ball in the last two overs, but Pollard wanted to do it in style. What does he do? He gives the crowd some catching practice with two sixes in the final over to take Mumbai home.
6. Brad Hodge 54 not out (29 balls, 2×4, 5×6) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
Emotions were running high as the Rajasthan Royals had been through a rough week following the breaking of the spot-fixing controversy. The backdrop added to the pressure when they faced Hyderabad in the must-win Eliminator and needed something special. They did well to restrict Hyderabad to 132 and started their run-chase very well, before panic set in. Wickets fell in a heap and they had lost half their side with 76 to get off the last ten — a tricky proposition on a difficult track. Hodge maintained his calm and took calculated risks. Hyderabad’s spinners (Mishra and Karan Sharma) were getting purchase, but he turned the tables by hitting them for huge sixes. That assault brought the run-rate down and reduced the pressure. However, Hyderabad fought tooth and nail and left Rajasthan with 10 to get off the last over. Darren Sammy buckled under pressure and bowled a half-tracker and Hodge had no trouble in pulling it over square leg. The next ball was sent into the stands at long-on as Rajasthan had their redemption. All the troubles of the previous week were buried as Rajasthan celebrated their triumph. Hodge even broke into a “rocking-baby” jig in the heat of the moment, as a tribute to his new-born daughter.
7. Shane Watson 70 (34 balls, 6×4, 6×6) vs Chennai Super Kings
If the fortress at Jaipur had to be defended against the roaring lions from Chennai, its most loyal sentinel had to rise to the occasion. Chasing 142, Rajasthan were in the doldrums in the first half of the run-chase as they lost four early wickets. The runs were hard to come by as they limped to 49 in 10 overs. Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduced his trump-card Ravichandran Ashwin to finish the job. But Watson took on the off-spinner as he and Stuart Binny amassed 23 runs off that over. Watson sat on his knees and lofted Ashwin over the on-side for two huge sixes to swing the momentum of the game. Thereafter, it was elementary for Watson as he played through the line and hit everything in sight. Dhoni and his men only watched it fly into the stands or race past them to the boundary. Once Watson was dismissed, Binny completed the job to make sure Rajasthan remained unbeaten at home.
8. Adam Gilchrist 85 not out (54 balls, 10×4, 3×6) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Powered by Gayle and Virat Kohli, Bangalore had put up 174 on the board. Many questioned Gilchrist’s spot in the team, as the veteran was way past his prime and had struggled early in the tournament. But, on this day, he turned back the clock to his glory days. The early wicket didn’t deter him as he was on a personal mission. The typical top-handed grip flayed away at anything loose. The wide ones outside the off-stump were attacked with disdain and anything short was pulled with power. The battle against Muttiah Muralitharan was most intriguing. Almost as if he was reading the spin magician’s mind, Gilchrist danced down the track to essay some beautiful strokes. His partnership with Azhar Mahmood ensured that Punjab sailed through the challenge with 11 balls to spare. The legendary Australian wanted to bow out in style!
9. Virat Kohli 99 (58 balls, 10×4, 4×6) vs Delhi Daredevils
Kohli has learnt the tricks of the trade in T20 cricket. Although he plays with the classical approach, there is a bit of swagger attached to his game. That was evident when he nearly scored his first T20 hundred during a game against Delhi. Batting first, Bangalore weren’t getting any momentum and were on 99 for three at the end of 15 overs. Kohli too wasn’t moving at a rapid pace as he was on 43 off 40 balls at that stage. What happened then was pure magic! In tandem with AB de Villiers, Kohli started attacking in every over. The sixes over long-on looked nonchalant and he looked in complete control. Umesh Yadav was earmarked for special treatment as he was hit for 24 runs in the 18th over. Kohli wasn’t deterred by his India teammate’s pace as he took the charge in the last over as well. He started the 20th on 76. The areas down the ground were peppered with boundaries as Kohli smoked two fours and two sixes. With two to get off the final ball for a memorable hundred, the Bangalore captain fell agonizingly short as he was run-out while attempting the second run. His last 56 runs came off only 18 balls — a remarkable turnaround. Delhi fought hard while chasing 184, but it was too much in the end.
10. Virender Sehwag 95 not out (57 balls, 13×4, 2×6) vs Mumbai Indians
“Do it to them, before they do it to you,” said Sir Viv Richards and Sehwag did just that. It was a knock that gave tremendous hope to his fans. The Nawab of Najafgarh seemed to return to form as he made mincemeat of the Mumbai bowling. An attack comprising Lasith Malinga, Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh was made to look pedestrian as he attacked them with brutality. Mumbai had put up 161 on a tough wicket and many felt it was a good score. Sehwag made batting look so easy as he played through the line. The shots through the off-side were memorable in particular as he barely moved his feet but sent it to the ropes with tremendous power. That innings helped Delhi record their first win of the season as they chased 162 in only 17 overs.
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