IPL 2014: Top five thrilling encounters of IPL 7
Piyush Chawla (above) hooking Mitchell Johnson for six off the last ball of the 19th over in the Indian Premier League 2014 final, was the moment that changed the match © IANS

 

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 was blessed with some real humdingers. From single moments to belligerent batting to spectacular bowling, these matches turned on their heads to leave the viewer’s pulses racing. Shiamak Unwalla lists out the five matches that had fans everywhere on the absolute edge of their seats.

 

 

1. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Match 11: Royal Challengers Bangalore won the toss and put Kolkata Knight Riders to bat in the IPL 7 Match no 11 at Sharjah. Gautam Gambhir was knocked over for a golden duck and Manish Pandey did not last very long either. At 10 for two, things were looking tough for KKR. However, seasoned pro Jacques Kallis and debutant Chris Lynn stitched together a crucial 80-run partnership as both batsmen scored 40s. A few late strikes from Robin Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav helped KKR get to a modest total of 150 for seven.

 

In reply, Yogesh Takawale and Parthiv Patel got RCB off to a flier, adding 67 runs in just 7.4 overs, before both men got out without another run being scored. Despite that, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh played good, sensible cricket that saw RCB get to 122 before Kohli was bowled by Sunil Narine. Things were still well in control with Yuvraj and AB de Villiers at the crease. However, later Yuvraj tried to go for a big hit and holed out to the deep for a 34-ball 31, leaving RCB with 10 runs to get from eight balls. The match was still RCB’s to lose, as Albie Morkel and de Villiers were unable to get in  the big hit, till de Villiers pulled a short ball from Vinay Kumar to midwicket with six runs needed off three balls. Chris Lynn, fielding at midwicket, stumbled in the deep before pulling off arguably the catch of the tournament, jumping high in the air and changing his direction mid-fall to land safely in the ropes. KKR pulled one out of the hat as RCB were left two runs short.

 

The moment that changed it: Chris Lynn’s catch.

 

2. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Rajasthan Royals (RR), Match 19: Rajasthan Royals won the toss and batted first. Karun Nair was out early, and Sanju Samson followed the suit after playing some very attractive shots. Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson then put on a very good 64-run alliance before the latter was ran out while cantering for another run. Stuart Binny made a golden duck and Rahane was finally dismissed for a majestic 72 before Steven Smith played some smart cricket to end unbeaten on 19 from 11. RR finished at a moderate score of 152 for five.

 

In reply, Gautam Gambhir finally broke out of a rut that had seen him score a solitary run from four innings. He ended up making a crucial 45 as opener Manvinder Bisla failed to recreate his magical knock from the 2012 IPL final. Gambhir was involved in partnerships with Kallis and Pandey, as KKR was always abreast of the required rate. Even after that, they were all dismissed. However, Suryakumar Yadav and Shakib Al Hasan took KKR to the cusp of victory. KKR needed 15 runs from 12 balls when things changed dramatically. Birthday boy James Faulkner, bowling the 19th over, took wickets with his first, fourth and fifth deliveries to leave KKR gasping at 141 for seven. Piyush Chawla was dismissed for a first-ball duck as KKR were left at 146 for eight in 19.2 overs. Shakib could manage only six off the next four balls, as the match ended in a tie. As if that much excitement wasn’t enough in itself, the Super Over also ended in a tie with both teams making just 11 runs each. However, RR were ahead on the basis of number of boundaries scored in their innings. With three needed off the final ball, Steven Smith intelligently placed the ball in the gap for two, rather than going for a big hit as RR won after the match was tied twice.

 

The moment that changed it: James Faulkner’s penultimate over.

3. Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Match 25: Batting first, Rajasthan put in a much improved performance to score a challenging 170 for six. Rahane, Nair, Samson and Watson all got starts, but none of them managed to put on a big score, with Nair’s 44 being the highest.

 

In reply, KKR finally settled in on a good opening pair: Uthappa and Gambhir. While Uthappa was flamboyant but disciplined, Gambhir was rock solid as the pair added 121 in 14 overs. Shane Watson, bowling the 15th over of the innings, managed to induce an edge from Gambhir. Two balls later, Uthappa played the ball in the air only to have Rajat Bhatia pouch the chance. Watson wasn’t done, as new man Andre Russell — who was sent in as a pinch hitter ahead of all the other established batsmen — was knocked over by Watson off the fifth delivery of the over. Suddenly, KKR were reeling at 122 for three, needing close to 50 runs off the final five overs with new men Pandey and Shakib Al Hasan at the crease. Most sane individuals would have thought that seeing three wickets in one over was a rarity.

 

Pravin Tambe, however, decided to prove everyone wrong. He fired down a wide ball to Pandey to start the over. For reasons unknown to all but Pandey himself, he stepped out and didn’t even bother trying to get back in. He was stumped off a wide ball. Yusuf Pathan walked out to bat at No 6, and clipped the first ball he faced back to Tambe to get out caught and bowled. Ryan ten Doeschate walked in to face the hat-trick ball, and was struck on the back leg by a full-ish delivery. The umpire’s finger went up as Motera exploded. KKR had fallen to the absolute depths of humiliation by catapulting from 121 for no loss to 123 for six. Shakib and Suryakumar Yadav could only get KKR up to 160 as they went down by 10 runs. Pravin Tambe was quite deservedly the man of the match, and quite possibly the happiest 42-year-old in the world that day.

 

The moment that changed it: Shane Watson and Pravin Tambe taking six wickets in two overs.

 

4. Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Rajasthan Royals (RR), Match 56: The only match on this list that doesn’t feature KKR, this was the last match of the League stages. Mumbai Indians were in with the faintest of chances to beat Rajasthan to a spot in the final four, but to do so they needed to defeat RR within 15 overs. Sanju Samson was promoted to open the innings, and usual opener Karun Nair batted at No 3 — a move that left a lot of people puzzled. In any case, the pair put on a fantastic 100-run partnership in under 10 overs. Some lusty hitting at the death from Brad Hodge and James Faulkner pushed RR to 189 for four in their 20 overs.

 

To score 190 in 20 overs is a good chase. MI needed to do it in 14.3 overs if they were to qualify for the playoffs, a feat even the most optimistic of fans would have deemed impossible. Lendl Simmons, Michael Hussey, Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma came and went, each one making a valuable but small contribution. In the midst of it all, Corey Anderson stood proud and powerful, as he played an innings that more than justified the faith placed in him till that point. Along with Ambati Rayudu, he took MI to 187 in 14.2 overs. With two needed off the next ball, Rayudu could only manage one as he was ran out taking the second run.

 

Rayudu was reduced to tears as he walked off, and Aditya Tare came on to face what could well have been the most important ball of his life. Due to some confusion, the exact par score was unclear if MI got to exactly 189 after 14.3 overs, but it boiled down to a boundary needed off the next ball if MI were to qualify. Anderson could only watch helplessly as James Faulkner steamed in to bowl to new man Tare. He was soon rejoicing, as Faulkner bowled a full toss on Tare’s pads, which was duly hit for a six. MI won and stormed into the qualifiers as RR were left heartbroken.

 

Rahul Dravid, that calm, composed sage, showed a rare moment of rage as he threw his cap down in disgust at the awful performance of the RR bowlers. MI celebrated as if they had won a World Cup, and their fans were euphoric for days to come.

 

The moment that changed it: Aditya Tare’s first-and-last-ball six.

 

5. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Final: It should be no surprise that the final makes the list of most thrilling matches of IPL 7. It was arguably the best final since the inaugural edition of the IPL, and certainly the one with the most unlikely protagonists. KKR won the toss and asked Kings XI Punjab to bat first. Hero of the Qualifier 2, Virender Sehwag, was out for just seven. George Bailey promoted himself to No 3 and was sent back for a two-ball one. Wriddhiman Saha walked out to join Manan Vohra. What followed was some courageous and audacious stroke-play as the young pair put every KKR bowler — including T20 legend Sunil Narine — to the sword in a delightfully daring 129-run alliance. After Vohra was dismissed for a well-compiled 67 off 52, Glenn Maxwell was out for a golden duck dismissed by a leg-spinner yet again. At the other end, Saha continued going his merry way, swatting, pulling, and sweeping with impunity to get to a fantastic century — the first in an IPL final. David Miller faced a single ball, as KXIP ended the final with a mammoth 199 for four. Quite shockingly, just two runs were scored from four between the three overseas players, as the two young Indians proved to be more than a handful for the KKR bowlers.

 

In response, KKR lost their golden man Uthappa early. The law of averages had to catch up with him some time, and fate cruelly made in the final. However, between Gambhir and Pandey, 53 runs were scored at a decent clip as KKR always remained at par with the required rate. Even after Gambhir’s dismissal, Yusuf Pathan and Pandey kept the KXIP bowlers at arm’s length in a whirlwind partnership of 71 from just over seven overs. Shakib and ten Doeschate couldn’t do much, and when Pandey was dismissed for a brilliant 94, things were looking very tough for KKR.

 

Suryakumar Yadav perished in the quest for some quick runs, and at 187 for seven in 18.2 overs, it looked like the game was over for KKR. However, the match is never over till the last ball is bowled, and KKR found an unlikely champion in the guise of Piyush Chawla. He hooked a short ball from Mitchell Johnson for six over square leg to reduce the required runs from 11 off seven to five off six. Chawla then hit the second ball of the final over of IPL 2014 for a boundary to guide KKR to their second win in three years.

 

The moment that changed it: Piyush Chawla hooking Mitchell Johnson for six off the last ball of the 19th over.

It might look like a trend, but the fact is that Rajasthan and Kolkata have been involved in some absolute thrillers this season. KKR were involved in four of the five matches, while RR were a part of three. This just shows how closely these teams fought, and how a single moment can change the course of a match, and with it the fate of a team. As the saying goes, Carpe Diem.


Click here for IPL 2014 complete coverage

 

(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)