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As AB de Villiers played a scintillating innings against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Sunday, memories of a similar assault by the same batsman against the same opposition came to mind. The calculated assault by de Villiers against arguably the greatest fast bowler of this decade merits an article in itself. Shiamak Unwalla, meanwhile, lists out ten instances in which a batsman played a stupendous knock to help his team pull off a victory.
Over the course of the seven years of Indian Premier League (IPL) history, we have witnessed a number of match-winning innings that have completely changed the course of the game. Here’s our list of the Top Ten performances in which a batsman has completely dominated a bowler or team to help his side to victory. Please note that we have not included any centuries in this list, or it would have turned into a Top Ten centuries list instead.
1) Virender Sehwag (DD) vs DC — IPL 1: Delhi Daredevils (DD) were one of the strongest teams in the inaugural edition of the IPL. Conversely, Deccan Chargers (DC) were one of the weakest sides. When the two teams met in the 7th match of the IPL, DD were the obvious favourites. DC made 142 for eight on the back off Rohit Sharma’s excellent 36-ball 66. In reply, DD lost Gambhir early, but Virender Sehwag looked in pristine form as he pillaged 94 off 41 balls. Along with Dhawan, DD managed to get at least one boundary in almost every single over of their innings. Sehwag took a special liking to Sanjay Bangar in the ninth over, hitting him for two fours and two sixes en-route to a 27 ball 52. However, that was almost a lull compared to the storm he unleashed on Andrew Symonds in the 13th over: The carnage read 4,6,4,6,4,6 as Delhi raced away to an early finish.
What happened next: Despite looking like a very strong outfit, DD crashed and burned against eventual champions RR in the semi-final to lose by a huge 105-run margin. Delhi have never made it to the final four since.
2) Rohit Sharma (DC) vs Mashrafe Mortaza (KKR) — IPL 2: Deccan Chargers seemed to be down and out in their chase of 161 against a struggling KKR side. With 34 needed off the last three overs, Mashrafe Mortaza and Ajit Agarkar bowled a couple of tight overs leaving DC with 21 to get off the last over. Mortaza, who had had an indifferent night till then, came on to bowl the final over. Rohit Sharma was on strike, batting on 10 off seven balls with one boundary till then. He proceeded to hit the first ball — which was a no ball — to the square leg boundary for four, before getting a couple of singles. Off the third legal delivery, he managed heave a full toss over mid-wicket for a maximum. Mortaza lost his cool and bowled a wide ball, and Rohit sensing weakness, went for the kill. A four and six later, DC stormed through to a six wicket victory off the last ball of the match. Rohit was instrumental with 32 not out off 13 balls.
What happened next: DC went on to qualify for the semi-finals, and ended up as champions of IPL 2 in South Africa. Rohit’s batting went a long way in ensuring that the Chargers won the title.
3) Ross Taylor (RCB) vs KKR — IPL 2: After a dismal inaugural season, the Challengers were desperate to come back strongly in IPL 2. With a new-look side comprising Kiwi stars Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor, and led by the indomitable Anil Kumble, RCB looked a good side in IPL 2. In the 41st match, against KKR, RCB looked in deep trouble as they trudged to 74 for three at the end of 11 overs. Ross Taylor, batting at No 4, proceeded to show how a chase of 100 in 54 balls isn’t too difficult after all. He started his procession with his favourite slog sweep over midwicket to get a couple of sixes off successive balls against Murali Kartik. He followed it up by smashing Angelo Mathews for three boundaries in the next over. A couple of quiet overs passed after that, with Taylor and new man Mark Boucher simply turning over the strike. With 52 needed off the final four overs, Taylor cut loose again, smashing Ajit Agarkar for a couple of boundaries in the 17th over. RCB needed 40 off 18 now. Ishant Sharma, then not known for the death bowling skills he currently possesses, was carted away for two fours and a six to get the required runs down to 21 off the last two overs. Agarkar was duly dispatched for two sixes in the over, and with just four needed off the last over bowled by Mathews, Taylor hit another six to win the match with four balls remaining.
What happened next: Ross Taylor finished with an unbeaten 81 off 33 to win the match comfortably. RCB went on to defeat Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the semi-final (the only time CSK have ever failed to reach the finals), but went down to eventual champions DC in a thrilling final. RCB have made it to the finals on one more occasion but lost to CSK.
4) Robin Uthappa (RCB) vs KXIP — IPL 3: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had their backs to the wall chasing a colossal target of 203. Openers Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis got RCB off to a good start, scoring 74 runs in eight overs before Pandey’s dismissal. That brought in Robin Uthappa. He started sedately, scoring only two runs off the first four balls he faced, before hitting Piyush Chawla for successive boundaries. That opened the floodgates, and Uthappa continued to go hammer and tongs against Iqbal Abdulla in the next over to hit him for a six and four off consecutive deliveries. S Sreesanth bowled the next over, the 12th of the innings, and Uthappa thrashed him for three sixes and four to plunder 25 runs off the over. He was dismissed by Bipul Sharma in the next over, but he parted for a match winning 51 off just 21 balls with four fours and four sixes.
What happened next: Kallis proceeded to avenge Uthappa by smashing Bipul Sharma for three sixes and a four in the 17th over to help RCB to an easy six-wicket victory in the end. Kallis remained unbeaten on 89 off 55 balls. RCB progressed to the play-offs, where they beat DC to finish the third-ranked side at IPL 3.
5) Chris Gayle (RCB) vs Prasanth Parameswaran (KTK) — IPL 4: No list of IPL blitzes could ever be complete without talking about that one unimaginable over from Prasanth Parameswaran. Who else but Chris Gayle could score 37 runs off one over! But the Jamaican superstar found a way. Parameswaran didn’t help himself at all by bowling a no-ball in an already huge over. Gayle played Parameswaran’s friendly medium pace with hostile aggression to get two sixes off the first two balls (the second of which was a no-ball), and followed it up with a couple of boundaries, before hitting two more sixes off balls four and five, and getting the last ball for four more to end the carnage with a nice little ribbon to top.
What happened next: Curiously, Gayle didn’t even get to a fifty (because really, that would have just been overkill, wouldn’t it?), getting out for a 16-ball 44. RCB won the match in the 14th over, and Prasanth Parameswaran hasn’t bowled much in the IPL since then.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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