The power of IPL

The Indian Premier League, since its inception in 2008, has fascinated the cricket fans the world over. Entertainment, excitement, emotion, rage, passion, despair... the tournament has them all. We pick some of the iconic moments from the past IPL seasons.

Inspired by Shane Warne’s leadership, Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural Indian Premier League in 2008. Royals vanquished Chennai Super Kings in the final at the D. Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai by three wickets.   -  K. Pichumani

The frenzy that the Indian Premier League stirs up each season is incredible. Entertainment, excitement, emotion, rage, passion, despair... the IPL has them all. Sportstar picks some of the iconic moments from the past IPL seasons.

Rajasthan Royals’ fairytale win; 2008

Few gave Rajasthan Royals a chance of victory ahead of the first edition of the Indian Premier League. It was a team with a solitary superstar player in Shane Warne; and even he was nearing 40. There were no big names, but Warne’s charismatic leadership inspired the league’s least expensive side to a fairytale triumph, after losing just three matches in the league stages. The unlikely figure of Shane Watson was the Player of the Series, scoring 472 runs (at an average of 47.2) and taking 17 wickets, proving what a devastating all-rounder he could be.

Yusuf Pathan smashed 435 runs at a strike-rate of 179, while the likes of Graeme Smith, Swapnil Asnodkar, Munaf Patel and Ravindra Jadeja made

important interventions. The unheralded Sohail Tanvir emerged the tournament’s most successful bowler, taking 22 wickets at an economy rate of 6.46. Warne was just behind, with 19 scalps. The final itself was a thriller, with Rajasthan securing victory off the last ball. It was an ending worthy of a Hollywood script.

Pandey lights up Centurion; 2009

Manish Pandey was part of the Indian team that won the Under-19 World Cup in 2008, but he did not create the same sort of sensation at the tournament as Virat Kohli. The month after he returned from Malaysia, Pandey turned out for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, but featured in only three matches, scoring a total of three runs. He made his first-class debut for Karnataka later that year, scoring 64 in his maiden Ranji Trophy innings. But that was as good as it got for the

right-hand batsman, who made only one other half-century that season, scoring a total of 193 runs. So not much was expected of Pandey when he joined up with Royal Challengers Bangalore for the second edition of the IPL, which had moved to South Africa.

The 19-year-old stunned Deccan Chargers at Centurion, becoming the first Indian to score a

century in the IPL. He opened the innings — a position unfamiliar to him — and made an unbeaten 114 off 73 balls, playing measured, sensible cricket that belied his age. Pandey promised a lot that night, but eight years on, it is fair to say that he has failed to deliver.

Dhoni in a rare display of emotion; 2010

M. S. Dhoni is not given to public displays of emotion but that pulsating evening in Dharamsala, the adrenaline was too much even for him. Going into its last round-robin game of the season, Chennai Super Kings needed a win against Kings XI Punjab to advance to the semifinals. It was a situation the team did not want to find itself in, and things did not begin well, with Punjab, batting first, scoring a tall 192.

Superb finish... needing 29 off the final two overs, the Chennai Super Kings skipper, M. S. Dhoni, took charge and steered his team to victory with two balls to spare.   -  Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

 

When S. Badrinath fell during the run chase, CSK needed 45 off 20: no straightforward task. The equation boiled down to 29 off the final two overs, when Dhoni took charge. He would get 28 of those, first clobbering Juan Theron and then a hapless Irfan Pathan. With CSK needing 16 for

victory, Dhoni finished things off with two balls to spare, taking his side over the line with a pair of gigantic sixes. Emotions ran high. Dhoni punched himself in the jaw — as if in admonishment for leaving it that late in the season — and walked away swearing, in a mixture of rage and relief.

“It was an emotional moment,” he admitted later. “When your franchise pays so much money for you, you should at least make the semifinals.”

Chris Gayle arrives in style; 2011

Chris Gayle missed the first edition of the IPL with a groin injury. Over the next two years, he played 16 matches for Kolkata Knight Riders, scoring

a modest 463 runs in total. At the auction for the 2011 edition, Gayle went surprisingly unsold. Making a comeback from injury, the Jamaican was preparing to play a home series against Pakistan when he was dropped from the West Indies side. It was at this stage that RCB came calling, and Gayle jumped at the opportunity, signing as replacement for the injured Dirk Nannes. He played his first match of the season against KKR, his old team, at the Eden Gardens. Maybe Gayle felt he had something to prove. Maybe he felt he had been wronged by the WICB. Maybe the decision to reject his West Indies central contract, and the subsequent criticism, angered him. Whatever it was, Gayle let rip. He destroyed KKR, hammering a 55-ball-102. It was the beginning of a glorious season, and a remarkable association with RCB. Gayle would go on to finish the season as top-scorer, although he played only 12 matches. He single-handedly took RCB into the final of the tournament, where the side lost to CSK. After that evening, his status in the IPL would never be the same again.

Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Bangalore with the Golden Player of the League Award in the 2011 IPL. The mighty West Indian was the top scorer of the season.   -  V. GANESAN

 

Bisla makes a mark 2012

Manvinder Bisla played in the 2012 IPL final only because an injury to L. Balaji forced KKR to field Brett Lee and reshuffle its native-overseas player combination. Bisla, who had hitherto played six unimpressive matches, found himself opening with Gautam Gambhir in the final, chasing CSK’s imposing 191. Gambhir was dismissed in the first over but Bisla carried on. The Haryana-born batsman smashed a remarkable 48-ball-89 — a priceless knock in a final — as KKR won by five wickets in Chennai, in the process breaking the record for the highest successful run chase against CSK. Gambhir later called it one of the best T20 innings he had ever seen. There was no disagreeing with him, as KKR celebrated its maiden IPL title.

Gayle makes history; 2013

The 2013 IPL will perhaps forever be associated with the spot-fixing scandal, but some of the cricket was equally memorable. Chris Gayle put on a stunning — even by Chris Gayle standards — exhibition of hitting at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, scoring an unbeaten 66-ball-175 against Pune Warriors. Gayle’s effort shattered a number of records: the highest individual score in T20 cricket, the fastest hundred (off 30 balls) in the format, and the most sixes in an innings (17). RCB’s total of 263 also became the highest team score in T20s, a record that was equalled last year by Australia.

Pune’s bowlers appeared a traumatised lot by the end of the innings. Ishwar Pandey went for 21 in his debut IPL over. Mitchell Marsh went for 28 in his first. Ali Murtaza was thrashed for 45 in two overs, while captain Aaron Finch was flogged for 29 in his only over. Gayle revealed afterwards that he hadn’t slept a wink the previous night, instead watching Manchester United claim a record 20th English Premier League title (in a Monday night game). “I didn’t sleep all night; I ordered room service at 6:30 a.m. and went to bed only at 7:30,” Gayle said.

What he had for lunch, the Jamaican was asked. “I ate only breakfast: an omelette, two pancakes and a hot chocolate. I’m hungry now; hopefully they’ll give me something to eat.”

It didn’t matter that he had just feasted on some hapless bowling.

A.B. de Villiers wounds Steyn again; 2014

In May 2012, A.B. de Villiers had taken 23 runs off Dale Steyn in the 18th over of a run chase that had seemed hopeless, leading RCB to an incredible win over Deccan Chargers. Steyn had congratulated him on Twitter later, stating in jest that their friendship was “now hanging by a thread”. That thread does not appear to have snapped, but not for the want of trying. Two years after that whirlwind knock, de Villiers was at it again, clouting Steyn for 24 runs off the penultimate over of yet another thriller. He remained unbeaten on 89 off 41 balls, helping RCB chase down 155 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Only three other RCB batsmen got into double figures, and none of them crossed 27. De Villiers struck three sixes in that Steyn over. One of the shots, a scoop that sailed over fine-leg, moved even the bowler to applause.

“I’ve asked him,” Steyn wrote later, “to pick on someone else next time.”

Mumbai’s remarkable turnaround; 2015

Months after Ricky Ponting had coached Mumbai Indians to a dramatic, second IPL title, he was asked, while on air during the Big Bash, if he had been confident of effecting the revival his side eventually managed. “Well,” he grinned, “I expected the boarding pass to be slipped under my door any moment.”

Ponting may not have been entirely serious, but the sentiment was understood. Mumbai began the 2015 season in disastrous fashion, losing five of its first six matches to occupy the bottom of the table. It had to win at least seven of the next eight to qualify for the play-offs. And it duly did. The likes of Hardik Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lendl Simmons and J. Suchith made vital contributions while the big names — Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Rohit Sharma — hit form again as Mumbai rose from its slumber. It made the play-offs with a thumping defeat of Sunrisers Hyderabad, a result that enabled it to finish second.

In the first qualifier, Mumbai defeated Chennai by 25 runs before coming up against the same opponent in the final. This time, the margin of victory was even more impressive, Mumbai cruising home by 41 runs.

“The way the team has grown, the way our captain (Rohit Sharma) has grown, it has been special,” Ponting said after the win. “We played probably our best match in the final.”

Virat Kohli’s IPL; 2016

If Mumbai Indians’ comeback over the course of the 2015 season was impressive, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s run to the final the year after was no less so. After losing five of its first seven games, RCB won seven of the next eight to march into the final. At the heart of that effort was Virat Kohli who, opening the innings, simply could not stop scoring. Kohli eventually finished with 973 runs from 16 games, at a ridiculous average of 81.08 (and a strike rate of 152), making four hundreds and nine half-centuries. No player had made that many runs in an IPL season before. Kohli also struck more sixes than anyone else (38); everything he touched simply turned to gold.

The RCB captain was crestfallen after the final, when his gallant half-century proved inadequate against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and an eager home crowd walked back disappointed from the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

“He has been phenomenal. Probably the main reason we were in the final was his performance,” the RCB coach, Daniel Vettori, said later. “Not only his effort with the bat but also his leadership. When you have got a guy at the top of the order who takes that much control and his performances are that great, it allows things to flow from there. Obviously a great captain leads with his performance and Virat has been exceptional not only with his batting, but also his fielding and leadership.”

That IPL season — and indeed the year 2016 —will forever be remembered as Kohli’s.