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Five Times IPL was the Best T20 Cricket League in the World

Rajasthan Royals’ stupendous win over Kings XI Punjab have made everyone realize that Indian Premier League’s T20 cricket was just the medicine that the world needed after months of lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak. Though T20 cricket had returned with the Caribbean Premier League in August itself, it wasn’t until the Indian Premier League (IPL) that the truest elements of the shorter format of the game had come to the fore.

However, this is not the first time IPL has kept viewers at the edge of their seats with its magic. Here is a look at five such occasions when there was nothing more exciting in the world than the IPL.

 

MUMBAI INDIANS VS CHENNAI SUPER KINGS | 2019 IPL FINAL

With two of the most successful IPL teams clashing for the title, the stakes could not have been any higher for both CSK and MI. The pressure was evident as well, as Rohit Sharma and Co. started the match in a shaky manner. Batting first, Mumbai Indians saw only Kieran Pollard connecting well as his 25 balls 41 helped MI post a respectable target of 150 runs in 20 overs.

Chennai couldn’t have asked for an easier target, especially with their veterans in top form. When Suresh Raina returned to the pavilion in the 11th over, CSK were 70-2 with MS Dhoni widely expecting to lift yet another IPL title. However, what followed was an unreal meltdown. Although Shane Watson held the fort from one end, CSK’s batting order crumbled like a house of cards until there were nine runs left off the last six balls with Watson and Ravindra Jadeja at the crease.

Rohit Sharma was banking on Lasith Malinga’s unplayable yorkers to get the job done and the Sri Lankan legend did it. After preventing boundaries in the first three balls, Shane Watson was run out under pressure before Shardul Thakur failed to score 2 runs off the last ball.

 

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE VS KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS | 2019

Despite IPL being over a decade old, there is something about a KKR vs RCB fixture that always promises drama. After all, it was these two titans who had kicked-off the tournament in 2008 with a T20 match that will be talked about for the ages.

When Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli took the crease against KKR at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in an evening last year, fans hardly expected a breath-taking contest. RCB’s batting was winged by a strong 64-run opening partnership before AB de Villiers partnered Virat Kohli to help RCB post a mammoth 206-run target.

KKR’s chances looked diminutive after Sunil Narine returned to the pavilion in the second over, reducing KKR to 28-1. Though Chris Lynn got support from Robin Uthappa in the middle, KKR needed big overs to reach fruition after their top-order batsmen did well.

However, with Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana failing to get the ball over the rope frequently, the two-time champions ended up needing 66 runs in the last four overs. Enter Andre Russell – who was having his best IPL season ever – and wrapped up the match in 19.1 overs with seven sixes and a boundary.

 

MUMBAI INDIANS VS RAJASTHAN ROYALS | 2014

The 2014 clash between Mumbai and Rajasthan to reach the playoffs had no favourites. While Mumbai were recovering from one of their worst IPL runs in the league stages, Rajasthan were living on the edge with their seemingly suicidal experiments.

Batting first, Rajasthan Royals had found heroes in Sanju Samson and Karun Nair whose 100-run stand dashed Mumbai’s hopes of progressing to the playoffs. Rajasthan posted a steep target of 190 after the first 20 overs, which Mumbai Indians had to chase down in 14.3 overs to get ahead on net run rate. The pressure was enormous on Mumbai and after Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey were both dismissed by the fifth over, Mumbai could have hardly imagined a turnaround. But Corey Anderson’s heroics of 95 runs in 44 balls – which had nine boundaries and six sixes – brought Mumbai closer to the possibility.

At the end of 14.2 overs, it had all come down to Aditya Tare facing James Faulkner with a boundary on the next ball being Mumbai’s only way into playoffs. Tare would go on to hit Faulkner’s low full toss for a six and Mumbai finish with an astonishing 195 runs in 14.4 overs.

Though the run chase was unreal, it was the post-match scenes that had stolen the limelight. Royals’ mentor Rahul Dravid was seen throwing his cap to the ground while Tare opened his shirt to get in the face of Shane Watson.

 

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS VS KINGS XI PUNJAB | 2010

If MS Dhoni bears unrealistic expectations from the CSK fans today, it is because of matches like these where the former Indian captain produced extraordinary conclusions to take the team home.

With a semi-final spot at stake, Kings XI Punjab had to put a competitive total on the board while batting first and they did exactly that. Strong starts from Irfan Pathan and Kumar Sangakkara were later capitalized on by Shaun Marsh and Mahela Jayawardene as Punjab ended up posting a target of 193 runs.

Chennai Super Kings didn’t have the comfort of a good opening partnership as before they could know, they were already two wickets down for just 27 runs. Mr. Reliable Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath managed to stop the leak though, as they added almost 100 runs to give their side a chance in the death overs, especially to MS Dhoni.

Their grit paid off as a well-settled MS Dhoni finally got the chance in the last over where CSK needed 16 runs with Irfan Pathan bowling. Dhoni hit two sixes and a boundary to wrap up the match in the first four balls itself.

 

KINGS XI PUNJAB VS RAJASTHAN ROYALS | 2020

This epic showdown shows the exact reason why people have been rooting for the return of IPL after months of lockdown, even if it meant organizing the tournament out of India. Punjab are one of few teams to have started IPL 2020 on a stronger note and they extended that momentum on Sunday, September 28, as well with KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal forging a gargantuan 183-run opening stand. However, Rajasthan’s bowlers did well to limit Punjab to 223 runs after the first 20 overs.

Sharjah’s batting-friendly pitch conditions were blatantly evident, but chasing down 224 runs in 120 balls was still a mammoth task for Steven Smith and Co. and it got further difficult after Jos Buttler was dismissed in the third over. However, timely knocks from Smith and Sanju Samson meant Rajasthan were well in the competition till the end.

Royals’ steady progress was halted midway after Smith was dismissed with Samson remaining their only hope. However, Samson was dismissed soon after and with No.4 batsman Rahul Tewatia dragging himself at 8 runs off 19 balls, Royals’ destiny looked sealed as they needed 51 off the last 18 balls.

With Jorfra Archer and Tom Curran waiting to come to bat, everyone – from commentators to RR dugout – was hoping Tewatia would retire when he suddenly smashed 30 runs off Sheldon Cottrell’s next six balls. Archer and Curran would later wrap up IPL’s highest run chase in history with three balls to spare, reiterating why IPL has stood the test of time to remain the world’s best entertainer in cricket.

 

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