Chris Gayle (left) and Virender Sehwag © AFP

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

The league matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2011 have been completed and we now move on to the play-offs. As the tournament draws to a close, we look back at some of the best and worst, hits and misses, etc.

 

First up in the series of top tens is the “Top Ten Knocks”. In this article we will have a look at the ten best knocks of IPL Season Four. Some of them are not necessarily numerically high scores, but the knocks made a difference to the outcome of the game. 

 

1. Virender Sehwag – 119 (56 balls, 4×13, 6×6) vs Deccan Chargers

 

The Delhi Daredevils had just one player of the highest quality – Virender Sehwag – and on his shoulders rested the burden of scoring most of the runs for the team. When Deccan put on 175 and reduced Delhi to 25 for three in the sixth over, it looked the same old story for the Daredevils. As people drew inevitable conclusions on Delhi’s fate, Sehwag went about his business, like only he can, by smashing the bowling to all parts of the ground. He was severe on spinners, clearing the boundary with ease. By the time Sehwag was dismissed by Dale Steyn, the damage had been done. The power of the innings was such that Steyn was the first one to walk up to Sehwag and pat his back. Delhi’s second highest scorer scored 102 fewer runs than Sehwag – James Hopes’ who scored 17. The fact that Sehwag’s match-winning blitz came in a run-chase, when his team was in dire straits and against international quality bowler like Steyn makes this innings truly special. 

 

2. Chris Gayle – 102 not out (55 balls, 4×10, 6×7) vs Kolkata Knight Riders

 

In his first game of this season, after coming in as a replacement for Dirk Nannes, Gayle almost single handedly smashed his former team’s formidable total of 171. Bangalore reached the target without difficulty as the Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli just knocked the ball around to let Gayle do the damage. He walked off the field a contended man as the Kolkata management would undoubtedly have regretted not retaining him.

 

3. Virender Sehwag – 80 (47 balls, 4×8, 6×5) vs Kochi Tuskers Kerala

 

The pitch at Nehru Stadium, Kochi was very tricky and required the genius of Sehwag to make the difference between the two sides. A track on which all the batsmen struggled, Sehwag looked comfortable as he took Delhi to a total of 157. Kochi were never in the hunt as they were bundled out for 119. The second highest scorer in this match was Ravindra Jadeja with 31. 

 

4. Rohit Sharma – 87 (48 balls, 4×8, 6×5) vs Chennai Super Kings

 

Mumbai lost their openers Sachin Tendulkar and R. Sathish early and Rohit Sharma needed to play an innings of substance. Against a strong Chennai bowling attack, Rohit played a blinder to lift Mumbai’s score to 164. Chennai fell eight runs short due to Harbhajan Singh’s fiver, but at the end of the day Sharma’s 87 was an innings to remember. 

 

5. Chris Gayle – 44 (16 balls, 4×3, 6×5) vs Kochi Tuskers Kerala

Batting first, Kochi crawled to 125. And when Bangalore walked out to bat, they wiped out half the target score in under four overs. Gayle smashed young and inexperienced Prasanth Parameswaran for 36 runs in the third over. The over read as follows: 6, 6nb, 4, 4, 6, 6, 4. By the time Gayle was dismissed, the match was all but over. 

 

6. MS Dhoni – 70 (40 balls, 4×3, 6×6) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

 

Mike Hussey, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay and Subramaniam Badrinath had fallen cheaply and Chennai were struggling at 22 for four in the sixth over when Dhoni walked out to bat. The captain single handedly tore the Bangalore attack to shreds. This knock, however, went in vain as Gayle played another blinder to seal Chennai’s fate. 

 

7. James Franklin – 45 (23 balls, 4×5, 6×1) vs Kolkata Knight Riders

 

In a thriller at the Eden Gardens, Franklin held firm as Mumbai kept losing wickets in pursuit of 176. With 21 needed in the final, Franklin stroked four boundaries to revive hopes of a win and Ambati Rayudu provided the finishing touches with a six off the last ball. Mumbai came into this game with three consecutive defeats and this innings by Franklin may just have changed the mood in the camp. The true worth of the innings will be known only after the tournament is over. 

 

8. Dinesh Karthik – 69 (33 balls, 4×7, 6×5) vs Kochi Tuskers Kerala

 

Chasing 179, Punjab were in trouble after losing both their openers with just over 30 on the board at the end of five overs. Karthik quickly took to the opposition as he cleared the ground with no trouble. This innings rates as one of the best in my book for sheer fluency of strokeplay. It just reminded us what a talent he is.

 

9. Shane Watson – 89 (47 balls, 4×9, 6×6) vs Mumbai Indians

 

Watson provided skipper Shane Warne with a very fitting parting gift in the latter’s final IPL game. Rajasthan restricted Mumbai to 133 on a pitch that offered copious assistance to the spinners. Watson dominated from the start. He hit Harbhajan Singh twice out of the ground in his first over and after being stuck on the head by Lasith Malinga, he marked the Sri Lankan for harsh treatment. The target of 133 was achieved with ease as Watson made a strong Mumbai attack look ordinary. 

 

10. Paul Valthaty – 120 (63 balls, 4×19, 6×2) vs Chennai Super Kings

 

When Chennai put on 188 on the board, it looked like they would romp home as the Punjab batting did not look good in their previous game. Valthaty, an unknown commodity, was asked to open the batting. The innings was a mix of powerful shots and delicate dabs as he raced to a hundred in 52 balls. This knock brought Valthaty to the limelight and kick-started a good run for Punjab.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)