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?
Share with us your thoughts by commenting below or using #360fans across social media.
#1 DAVID WARNER 93* VS GUJARAT LIONS
27 MAY 2016 (QUALIFIER 2)
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.
Cricket is often described as ‘a batsman’s game’, and the shortest format can often be a nightmare for bowlers given the battering the likes of David Warner and Virat Kohli can give out.
However, ever since the inception of the IPL and other franchise leagues, bowlers have again showed that they are more than just bowling machines designed to turn up and get smacked out of the ground.
This year’s IPL was no different, once more spinners, medium pacers and quicks all proving their value.
With the ninth edition of the tournament over and the dust settling on Sunrisers Hyderabad’s win, we share our five best individual bowling efforts from IPL 2016.
Which performance do you think was the best and which bowler impressed you the most during the competition?
Share with us your thoughts by commenting below or using #360fans across social media.
#1 ADAM ZAMPA BREAKS ONTO THE SCENE WITH 6/19
Rookie Australian leg-spinner, Adam Zampa, was a relative unknown until shining at the World T20 for his country and then being snapped up by MS Dhoni’s franchise. Here, at Vishakhapatnam, he was presented with plenty of opportunities, and Zampa made full use of a helpful wicket to exploit the turn on offer.
Introduced into the attack in the seventh over, Zampa seemed hungry for wickets as he fearlessly flighted the ball and maintained a full length. He outfoxed an advancing Yuvraj Singh with a googly before compelling Kane Williamson to unnecessarily reach for a wide leg-break. He then claimed Moises Henriques’ wicket in the following delivery to end his third over with 3/11.
When Dhoni tossed the ball to Zampa in the last over of the Sunrisers innings, many expected him to go for runs. But the gamble worked as the Australian spun it away from Deepak Hooda, bowled Naman Ojha and got the better of Bhuvneshwar Kumar to finish with the second best figures in the history of the tournament.
#2 DWAYNE SMITH CRUSHES KKR WITH 4/8
As a part-timer, Dwayne Smith is not a usual sight with the ball in hand. However, it was he who set up a six-wicket victory for the Gujarat Lions against Kolkata Knight Riders in a crucial match on May 19, 2016.
On a greenish Kanpur track, the medium pacer befuddled the much vaunted KKR batting line-up with intimidating bounce and lateral movement. The openers, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, succumbed to soft dismissals behind the wicket while No. 3 Piyush Chawla found his middle stump felled in rather ugly fashion.
Smith surprised Shakib Al Hasan with a well-directed bouncer on the third ball of his fourth over, cramping the batsman for space. The upper cut was safely taken by Eklavya Dwivedi at third man. Smith bowled three more dot balls to finish his quota with incredible figures of 4/8, thereby restricting Kolkata to a mere 124 runs.
#3 DHAWAL KULKARNI SCARES THE MIGHTY RCB WITH 4/14
Dhawal Kulkarni’s story could have been best summarized as ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’, had a superhuman named AB de Villiers not taken it away from the Gujarat Lions that day. The stakes could not have been higher as the Lions met the Royal Challengers in the first qualifier match, and Kulkarni was all set to pull off an upset with his sensational spell upfront.
He castled the Orange Cap holder, Virat Kohli for a second ball duck in his first over, and then went on to bang the grille of Chris Gayle’s helmet three deliveries later. He delivered a wicket maiden in his second over, which included the prized scalps of Gayle and KL Rahul in consecutive deliveries.
Sachin Baby turned out to be his last victim as the Lions medium pacer returned with figures of 4-1-14-4. It was largely owing to his exploits that the Bangalore side found themselves reeling at 47/5 at the end of 8 overs.
#4 AMIT MISHRA’S 4/11 TEARS KINGS XI APART
Amit Mishra turned the heat on as early as the seventh match of the IPL with his wily bowling. Playing in his 100th IPL match, the leggie excelled on a slow and low Kotla surface against the Kings XI Punjab.
Mishra’s spin – or the lack of it at times – and variation outwitted the batsmen as he ripped through the top order with authority. First, he lured Shaun Marsh with a tossed up delivery that beat the batsman as he rushed down the track, resulting in an easy stumping by Dinesh Karthik behind the wicket.
Returning in the ninth over, Mishra got rid of the dangerous duo – David Miller and Glenn Maxwell – in quick succession, thus reducing the Punjab outfit to 52/4. A googly from the fourth ball of his third over slipped through Manan Vohra’s defence and rattled his leg stump, marking the Delhi spinner’s first and only four-wicket haul this season.
#5 MARCUS STOINIS LEADS LATE KXIP RESURGENCE WITH 4/15
In an otherwise forgettable tournament, Marcus Stoinis has been the sole silver lining for Kings XI Punjab this season. The Australian all-rounder has grabbed attention with both bat and ball, and emerged one of the most valuable players in the IPL.
Against Mumbai Indians, and aided by the likes of Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma, Stoinis utilised a slow Vishakhapatnam pitch to return with his best figures in T20 cricket.
He relied on a fuller length initially to claim the wickets of Nitish Rana and Jos Buttler, the latter being made possible by Gurkeerat Singh’s stunning catch at long-off. He then returned at the death to remove Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard off successive deliveries with Mumbai struggling at 103/7. Rohit Sharma’s men were eventually restricted to 124, a target that was bettered by the King XI with 3 overs to spare.
The IPL final in Bangalore had it all; big sixes, scores of 200 plus and a last-over finish.
The superstars of T20 cricket – Chris Gayle, David Warner and Virat Kohli – scored more than 50 each and fans got to enjoy an exhilarating final. Almost everything went on expected lines, except the result.
The Royal Challengers were chasing at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, a scenario they were almost certain to succeed in. Even though it was a daunting target of 209, Bangalore would have backed themselves to reach the total.
And while they did score 200, it was eight runs too short. When the victory margin is so small, it becomes a matter of percentages – one shot over the fence, a misfield here or there.
For me, the difference between the two sides was an Aussie. Not Warner, but Hyderabad all-rounder Ben Cutting.
Sunrisers were placed at 184 for seven going into the final over, bowled by Shane Watson. Ten to 15 runs would have been good for Hyderabad. But Cutting had other ideas. Showing no respect to his compatriot, Cutting thrashed Watson for 24 runs, with three sixes and one boundary.
The first six that he hit off Watson went out of the ground and that gave Cutting the confidence to hit him for two more. That final over gave Hyderabad the perfect boost.
However, Bangalore quickly gained the upper hand. Gayle and Kohli batted for 10 overs and that could mean only one thing – more than 100 on board.
It was getting out of hand for Hyderabad but Cutting once again took up the challenge at a difficult moment.
Kohli was grassed at short third man of his bowling but Cutting didn’t drop his shoulders, bowling a wide off-cutter to Gayle the next ball and getting the Jamaican to slice the ball to third man.
That wicket gave the Sunrisers some breathing space. If Gayle had stayed on for a few more overs, Hyderabad could well have been out of contention. But from the 11th over onwards, Hyderabad started to turn the screw.
The wicket of Kohli a few overs later was a blow from which Bangalore simply couldn’t recover. What makes Hyderabad’s win remarkable is they took on the strongest batting line-up in the IPL without one of their premier new-ball bowlers, Ashish Nehra, and had a barely fit seamer, Mustafizur Rahman, in the playing XI.
Nehra has been a crucial member of T20 sides over the past few seasons (Chennai Super Kings, India and now Hyderabad). He was once again in peak form this IPL but injury ruled him out of the final stages.
Rahman just about recovered from his hamstring injury and his four overs for 37 runs on Sunday were critical because a lesser bowler might have gone for 50 or more.
And finally, the captaincy of Warner must be commended.
He was the Sunrisers’ top-scorer in the final and ended the edition with nine half-centuries from 17 matches. His consistency with the bat was as remarkable as that of Kohli and AB de Villiers and he leaves India much more confident of his batting and leadership abilities.
Australia already have a fine captain in Steven Smith but with Warner showing great maturity, they have another strong leader in the team who can provide sound advice at important junctures.
For Kohli, it was another T20 campaign where he couldn’t get his hand on the title despite exceptional batting form.
While India made it to the semi-final of the World T20 riding on his runs, Bangalore too must thank their skipper for helping them reach the IPL title clash.
Kohli will have to make do with personal accolades for now because it’s Warner who can claim to have clinched the title for his team while leading the way with the bat.