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Openers who aced a high-octane chase

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Last updated on 19 Mar 2023 | 06:04 PM
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Openers who aced a high-octane chase

Sophie Devine smashed 99 of just 36 balls, the highest score in WPL

It was a memorable match for Royal Challengers Bangalore’s women’s team on March 18th. In need of wins desperately, Bangalore were chasing a stiff target of 189 against Gujarat Giants.

What came next was a complete annihilation from Sophie Devine. The right-handed opener went after Ashleigh Gardner in the second over, amassing 24 runs. From there on, she was just unstoppable. In the powerplay, she smashed 36 runs at a strike rate of 240, and then bettered it with a strike rate of 300 in the middle overs.

Though she missed out on a well-deserved century by just one run, it was an innings of sheer demolition. Out of the 99 runs she scored, 74 came against spinners at an unbelievable strike rate of 336.4. Kim Garth, was the only bowler against whom she had a strike rate of less than 200. In the end, her heroics helped Bangalore to attain victory with 27 balls to spare, despite the target being over 180+.

Devine’ knock against Gujarat will go down as one of the best. Let’s look at a few other instances where an opener completely dominated a chase of 170+ in Indian T20 leagues:

Chris Lynn – 93* off 41 balls vs GL in 2017

It was the first match for Kolkata Knight Riders, and the third in the 2017 edition of the IPL. The now-defunct team Gujarat Lions batted first and posted 183/4.

In reply, Kolkata chased the target in just 14.5 overs without losing a wicket. Gautam Gambhir contributed with an unbeaten 76 in that match. But, it was Chris Lynn who ripped the bowling apart. In just 41 balls, he amassed an unbeaten 93 at a strike rate of 226.8. He hit eight sixes and six fours, which is 77.4 percent of runs through boundaries. Till date, this is the fourth highest score for Kolkata in the IPL.

Shane Watson – 117* off 57 balls vs SRH in 2018

After suffering a two-year ban, Chennai Super Kings returned with a statement in 2018, storming into the finals. Batting first, Hyderabad set a target of 179, which is a massive one in a final.

They won alright, but it was down to one person - Shane Watson. When no other batter for Chennai stood up, he alone scored an unbeaten 117 at a strike rate of 205.3. None of the other batters could score at strike rate of over 135 in that innings. They chased the target in just 18.3 overs with Watson contributing 64.5 percent of the total runs. Mind you, Watson hadn’t scored a run in the first 10 balls of this innings. Only two batters have hit a century in IPL finals, Wriddhiman Saha’s 115 in the 2014 edition, went in vain.

Virender Sehwag – 119 off 56 balls vs DCH in 2011

The now-defunct Deccan Chargers posted a total of 175/5. This was the first year in which Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were separated as Delhi’s opening pair. Gambhir had parted ways to join Kolkata.

On the second ball of the chase, Delhi lost Aaron Finch for a duck. By the end of the sixth over, they had lost three wickets and had put only 29 runs. Any team would have given up their hope, but Sehwag was not one of those. He scored a century, and single handedly took Delhi over the line. He scored 119 off 56 balls before being dismissed. On the other hand, no other batter crossed the 20-run mark. Delh won with four wickets in hand.

Jos Buttler – 77 off 37 balls vs PBKS (KXIP then) in 2017

Just for your knowledge, before Jos Buttler started to open regularly for England, he batted one whole season with Mumbai, as an opener.

Chasing 199, Mumbai were off to a flier in the powerplay (82/1). Buttler scored 40 in just 17 balls in that phase. The destruction didn’t stop there. He went on to post a 24-ball half-century, and ended his innings with 77 runs at a strike rate of 208.1. By virtue of his innings, Mumbai gunned down the target in just 15.3 overs.

Chris Gayle – 102* off 55 balls vs KKR in 2011

Who can forget this knock? After being unsold in the auction, and then coming in as an injury replacement, Chris Gayle’s anger and vengeance was all visible.

This was his first game for Bangalore after being dropped by Kolkata post the 2010 IPL. In his return against his former team, Gayle smashed an unbeaten 102 at a strike rate of 185.5, while chasing 172. No other Bangalore batter struck at over 135 in this innings. By virtue of his unbeaten century, Bangalore chased the target with 11 balls to spare.

Mohammed Azharuddeen – 137* off 54 balls vs MUM in 2021

This innings from Azharuddeen in the 2021 edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was sheer madness. Chasing down a target of 197 in just 15.3, against a domestic behemoth like Mumbai, needs a superlative effort and Azhar presented that for Kerala.

He smashed a 37-ball century, which is the fastest after Rishabh Pant’s 32-ball century against Himachal Pradesh in 2018. He ended up with an unbeaten score of 137, while striking at 253.7. In all T20s, Azharuddeen’s 137* is the only century for Kerala till date.

David Warner – 109* off 54 balls vs DCH in 2012

The Delhi team in 2012 were extremely strong. In fact, since the inception till 2012, Delhi were making it to the semi-finals every season. In the 55th match, they were almost through with eight wins and 16 points. But there was no complacency in their efforts. 

Chasing 188 against Deccan, Delhi lost Sehwag on the second ball of the innings. But, Warner and Naman Ojha put on an unbeaten 189-run partnership for the second wicket. Out of those, Warner scored 109 runs at a strike rate of 201.85 as compared to Ojha’s 139.1. Delhi chased this target in just 16.4 overs.

Manvinder Bisla – 89 off 48 balls vs CSK in 2012

Before the 2012 IPL final, Bisla had 414 runs in 21 innings at a strike rate of 109.2 and 19.7 average. With a record like that, there are no specific plans for the particular batter. Which is why, he came out of the syllabus for Chennai.

In the final, chasing 191, Gambhir lost his wicket in the first over. Alongside Jacques Kallis, Bisla forged a 136-run partnership for the second wicket, in just 82 balls. In that partnership, Bisla scored 88 runs at a strike rate of 191.3 as compared to Kallis 113.9. His quick-fire innings helped Kolkata lift their first title. 

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