By Karthik Parimal
The fifth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been remarkable in many ways. No other edition has featured umpteen numbers of closely-contested matches like this one. We saw quite a few instances of teams literally grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat. Needless to say, there were many brilliant individual efforts that turned the course of the match in their side’s favour. In this article, the focus is on the ten best knocks in IPL 5 that changed the complexion of the game. It’s not surprising that majority of the names mentioned in the list below feature players who were touted to perform such feats.
Below are 10 most memorable knocks during IPL 5 (in no particular order):
Chris Gayle (128* vs Delhi Daredevils, Match 67):
The Royal Challengers of Bangalore (RCB) needed to win this game against the Delhi Daredevils (DD) to stay afloat in the tournament. Considering the fact that the RCB bowlers weren’t doing an efficient job, their batsmen needed to post a healthy total on the board. As always, Chris Gayle was the man who rose to the occasion. He scored a breathtaking 128 in just 62 balls, inclusive of 13 mammoth sixes. This knock completely demoralised Delhi’s bowlers as RCB finished their innings at 215 for one in their allotted quota of twenty overs. Ross Taylor kept his side alive with a blistering 55 in 26 balls, but that wasn’t enough to help DD recuperate from the Gayle storm.
Murali Vijay (113 vs Delhi Daredevils, 2nd qualifier):
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Murali Vijay was not in the best of touch coming into the match. In fact, he was in fact dropped for a few games during the course of the tournament. But the Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) think-tank trusted him to come good in the big match. And that faith was handsomely repaid. Vijay looked in cracking form as he smashed boundaries of the first two balls, and there was no stopping him thereafter. He went on to amass 113 runs in just 58 balls – a knock that featured 15 boundaries and four sixes.
DD were eventually knocked as they fell short by a huge margin of 86 runs, chasing CSK’s 222 for five.
Ajinkya Rahane (103* vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, Match 18):
He is one player who deserves to be showered with heaps of praise for his technically flawless approach towards batting. Before this innings, he almost scored a century in just the 4th match of the season against the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at Jaipur. The Rajasthan Royals (RR) were expected to be rolled over by majority of the sides before the commencement of this tournament, but Rahul Dravid and Rahane ensured that they remained in the competition at least till the end of the league stages.
In this game, Rahane took the RCB bowlers to the cleaners as he smashed 103 in just 60 deliveries. RR finished at 195 for two before bundling out RCB’s mighty batting line-up for just 136. He was the proud owner of the Orange Cap during the initial stages of the tournament but lost out to Chris Gayle, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan towards the end. Rahane scored 560 runs at an average of 40.00 this IPL.
Deccan Chargers (DC) were really unlucky this IPL. The number of games they lost despite posting decent totals on the board in the last over is difficult to comprehend. Having scored 157 for eight after batting first, DC did will to restrict DD to 23 for three in the first five overs. But Kevin Pietersen had different plans. His presence always seemed to amplify DD’s efficiency, and it was no different this time. He launched an onslaught against DC’s profligate bowlers and steered Delhi to a comfortable five-wicket win. In just 64 balls Pietersen scored an unbeaten 103. During this innings, he cleared the ropes with ease on nine occasions.
Dwayne Smith (24* vs Chennai Super Kings, Match 49):
The advantage kept swinging both ways for majority of the time during this match. CSK posted 173 for eight and set the Mumbai Indians (MI) a stiff target to chase. MI began well and at one point were 134 for one in 15 overs. They lost momentum thereafter and slumped to 159 for eight in 19.2 overs. MI now required 14 to win off the last three balls. A bowler of Ben Hilfenhaus’ calibre never looked like giving it away, but Dwayne Smith scripted one of MI’s most memorable victories as he smashed the former for a six and two 4s in consecutive balls. A stunned Hilfenhaus didn’t know what had hit him.
Smith’s form improved a great deal after that innings. He went on to score an unbeaten 87 during against the Rajasthan Royals a few matches later.
Albie Morkel (28* vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, Match 13):
4,6,4,6,2,6. That’s how Albie Morkel got his runs during the penultimate over of CSK’s innings while chasing RCB’s gigantic total of 205 for eight. Virat Kohli looked flummoxed as he got a taste of his own medicine at the hands of Morkel. Chennai eventually won that match in the final ball of the innings. That 28-run over gave CSK one of its best ever wins. Scoring 43 runs in 12 deliveries looked out of the question, but Albie Morkel is one of the very few batsmen today who has the ability to make such daunting tasks possible.
AB de Villiers
RCB required 39 runs to win off the last three overs while chasing DC’s formidable 181 for two. Dale Steyn had two overs up his sleeve and so the task was going to be an arduous one; but not for AB de Villiers. He scored 23 runs in Steyn’s over and stunned everyone as he toyed with the world’s best fast bowler currently. Steyn too couldn’t help but appreciate a few of the shots played by his South African teammate. RCB reached the target with more than an over to spare. This innings would rank high even when the best knocks from all editions of the IPL thus far are taken into account.
David Hussey (65* vs Deccan Chargers, Match 61):
Yet another huge total posted by DC on the board, and yet another last ball defeat. David Hussey of KXIP was the villain for them this time around as he smashed a quickfire 65* of just 35 balls to help his team chase down 190 in 20 overs. KXIP got there with four wickets to spare. Hussey hit five 6s in that cameo of his, and it was mainly Amit Mishra who was at the receiving end. This knock ensured that KXIP still remained in the hunt for a place in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost steam towards the fag end of the tournament and bowed out.
Rohit Sharma (73* vs Deccan Chargers, Match 9):
It was a slow wicket at Vishakapatnam. DC could manage just 138 for nine in their allotted quota of 20 overs, but they did well to strangle MI and have them struggling. Mumbai needed 18 runs to win from the last over, and Rohit Sharma was still at the crease. He nonchalantly made mincemeat of Daniel Christian’s bowling and ensured that MI crossed the line in the final delivery of the innings. DC would have rued the fact that they let go of a player of Rohit Sharma’s quality.
Sharma also scored a brilliant unbeaten 109 in 60 balls against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) later. That match turned out to be a one-sided contest as KKR never came close to threatening MI’s total of 182/1.
Manvinder Bisla (89 vs Chennai Super Kings, final):
What a stage for young Manvinder Bisla to make a statement. He was left out of the side for quite a few matches, but when the situation demanded, he played a knock that will be remembered for many days to come. His 89 in the finals knocked the wind out of CSK’s sails. Gautam Gambhir was the only batsmen consistently delivering for KKR right throughout the IPL, and when his wicket fell in the first over, very few would have expected KKR to fight back. But it was Bisla who fired KKR to their maiden IPL title. His innings featured eight 4s and five 6s. He spared none of the CSK bowlers.
KKR’s think-tank must be appreciated for backing a rookie like Bisla and showing faith in his abilities on such a big stage.
(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. His zeal for writing and love for the sport of cricket is what has brought him here. Karthik can also be followed on Twitter)