The ninth season of the Indian Premier League concluded Sunday, with Sunrisers Hyderabad emerging as winners. It was a see-saw tournament, replete with many moments of individual brilliance, both with bat and ball.
Here, we take a look at the five most important innings of this edition, taking into account not just the number of runs scored, but factors such as match situation and the player’s contribution to his team’s victory.
Which performance do you think was the best and which batsman impressed you the most during the competition?
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#1 DAVID WARNER 93* VS GUJARAT LIONS
Coming into the Qualifier, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s batting had virtually been all about David Warner, and they relying on him to score big here and aid their progress to the final. Warner did exactly that, the Hyderabad captain leading by example from the front.
In spite of wickets regularly falling at the other end, Warner kept on going, clearing the boundary on occasions and at other times piercing gaps with near perfection on a sluggish Kotla wicket. Along with Bipul Sharma, who made a very important unbeaten 27 off 11 balls, Warner took the Sunrisers to their target of 163, and the final, with five balls to spare.
#2 AB DE VILLIERS 79* VS GUJARAT LIONS
24 MAY 2016 (QUALIFIER 1)
As was the case with Warner’s innings, this knock from AB de Villiers came in a qualifier, where all other batsmen failed, and in pursuit of runs on a similarly slow wicket.
Even as the star cast of the Bangalore batting failed to deliver, de Villiers delivered a stunning knock in partnership with Iqbal Abdulla (who made a Bipul Sharma-esque 33 not out from no.8). The South African nullified wrecker in chief Dhawal Kulkarni and the dangerous Ravindra Jadeja, before launching into Shadab Jakati, Dwayne Bravo and Praveen Kumar at the end.
It was a calculated, measured knock from the man widely considered to be the best in world cricket. Unfazed by the pressure, he took the Royal Challengers straight into their third IPL final.
#3 DAVID WARNER 69 VS ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
29 MAY 2016 (FINAL)
Warner’s second appearance on this list comes after his match-winning knock in the IPL final. Having won the toss he elected to bat despite having full knowledge of Bangalore’s fire power, especially when it comes to chasing. It was a bold move, one that needed to be backed up by a Warner special in order to succeed.
The Sunrisers’ hopes were resting on him, a blazing start and 200-plus score being the minimum requirement. And Warner was up to the task, never letting the momentum shift into Bangalore’s hands. An innings like this puts the fielding team completely on the back foot and ensures that the batting side maintain an upper hand through the match.
Considering the occasion, how dependent Sunrisers has been on Warner this season, the decision to bat first against Bangalore on their home ground, and the fact that it led them to an IPL crown, this innings by Warner was special.
#4 VIRAT KOHLI 108* VS RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS
7 MAY 2016
Virat Kohli had a tournament most players can only dream of. Kohli scored 973 runs, including a staggering four centuries and all the while leading his team to the final after a woeful start.
During their struggles, Kohli scored his most important century. Bangalore had won only two of their seven games up to this match and chasing 192, without the misfiring Chris Gayle, Kohli came into his own.
Bowlers were carted left, right and center in a blistering knock filled with effortless style and big hitting. Nearly 50 runs were required off the last four overs, which Kohli managed entirely by himself, Travis Head contributing 5 of those runs at the other end.
It became the turning point for Bangalore and they eventually ended finishing second in the league stages after having been languishing in 7th up until this match. Placing it in this context, Kohli’s second century of the season was probably his best knock.
#5 KARUN NAIR 83* VS SUNRISERS HYDERABAD
20 MAY 2016
This innings came in a virtual knockout match for the Delhi Daredevils. Having coasted through the first half of the tournament, Delhi lost their footing and needed to win their last two matches to qualify for the playoffs.
In the first of these, played on a two paced Raipur wicket, they were chasing a tough target of 159. Having lost their mainstay Quinton De Kock for 2 and with their other overseas stars not in form, Delhi were staring down the barrel. Karun Nair was their only remaining hope and here hethrived on the responsibility and extra pressure.
Despite not getting support from the other end after Rishab Pant ran himself out for 32, Nair played his natural game, mixing caution with aggression. He took his side into the final over needing 11 runs to win, a task Nair was more than up to as he hit two boundaries of the last two balls to ensure Delhi stayed in contention. The fact that they did not make the playoffs was frustrating but should not take away the value of this knock.