Mumbai Indians surely owned the Indian Premier League 2020 and won the title for the fifth time, but the 13th edition of the lucrative T20 league produced some of the best matches in the history of the tournament. A total of four games went to the Super Over, in fact, there was a match between Mumbai and Kings XI Punjab that was decided via two Super Overs. There were quite a few last-over finishes, as well as some top-quality knocks.
Here, we look at the top-five close encounters of the season, not necessarily in that order.
Rahul Tewatia etched his name into the IPL history books with a match-defining 31-ball 53 that helped Rajasthan achieve the highest successful run-chase in the tournament's history. There was a position in the match when he was batting at 8 runs off 19 balls, failing to get bat to the ball after being promoted up the order. This was after Mayank Agarwal’s maiden IPL hundred propelled Punjab to 223/2 at the end of the first innings. In reply, RR lost Jos Buttler quite early but Steve Smith (27-ball 50) and Sanju Samson (42-ball 85) added 81 runs for the second wicket to lay a solid platform for the middle-order.
The Rajasthan team management then decided to send Tewatia ahead of Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag and at one stage it felt like RR would lose the game just because of him, despite Samson going all guns blazing at the other end. As the asking rate climbed above 16 in the last five overs, the decision of promoting him became a subject of ridicule. However, that's when Tewatia came back from the dead and smoked 45 runs in the next 12 deliveries he faced, blasting Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in the 18th over, reducing the target to 21 off the last two. Jofra Archer then smashed a couple of sixes and got his team over the line with three deliveries to spare.
It was the same old story for Bangalore, albeit the win. Virat Kohli and Co. dominated 36 of the customary 40 overs but almost lost the game in the last five because of their death bowling. At the start of the 17th over in the run-chase, Mumbai needed 80 to win and they managed to get 79 to tie the game. It was Ishan Kishan (58-ball 99) and Kieron Pollard (24-ball 60*) who wreaked havoc in the last five overs and almost won the game for Bangalore who had amassed 201/3 in their 20 overs, thanks to half-centuries from Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch and AB de Villiers.
Mumbai looked down and out at the end of the 16th over but the game turned on its head when Kohli decided to bowl back to back overs of leg-spin of Adam Zampa and Yuzvendra Chahal. Pollard faced 10 of those 12 deliveries and clobbered 42 runs, while Kishan slammed 7 off 2. With 31 required off the last two overs, Kishan blasted three sixes before getting out on the penultimate delivery. Pollard however smacked the final ball for four and managed to take the game to the Super Over. Navdeep bowled an outstanding Super Over allowing Mumbai batsmen only 7 runs, which Jasprit Bumrah couldn't defend.
Lockie Ferguson has been one of the best limited-overs international bowlers in recent years but didn't get an opportunity in Kolkata's first eight games of the season. The right-arm paceman from New Zealand finally got a chance in game nine and made an instant impact, inspiring KKR to a nail-biting Super Over win against Hyderabad. Chasing 164, Jonny Bairstow (36) and Kane Williamson (29) got SRH off to a solid start. The two scored 58 in the powerplay before Ferguson got rid of Williamson, Priyam Garg, and Manish Pandey in his first three overs to bring Kolkata back in the game.
David Warner (33-ball 47*) batted at No. 4 in this encounter and along with Abdul Samad (15-ball 23) took the game to the last two overs in which they needed 30. Samad hit Shivam Mavi for a couple of boundaries but was dismissed in the same over. Warner however was there till the very end and smashed Andre Russell for three fours in the final over but couldn't finish the job for his team. With two needed off one delivery, Warner failed to get bat to the ball and could only manage one run via a leg bye.
It was Ferguson who took the responsibility of bowling the Super Over and knocked over Warner and Samad in the space of three deliveries. Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik then scored the required three runs with the utmost ease.
After Ferguson inspired Kolkata to a nail-biting Super Over win against Hyderabad in the afternoon game, Punjab managed to beat Mumbai in Match No. 36 that featured two Super Overs. After Mumbai smashed 176/6 in their 20 overs, Punjab were cruising along nicely with KL Rahul (51-ball 77) leading from the front, but just when the game was tilting in their favour, Jasprit Bumrah (3/24) showed his class and didn't allow KXIP to get over the line. Punjab failed to score nine runs in the final over and the game ended in a tie.
Bumrah was not done yet, as he bowled an outstanding Super Over, but Punjab's Mohammed Shami returned the favour and forced a yet another Super Over. Bumrah only conceded five runs in six deliveries, but Shami too did the same, nailing yorker after yorker. Considering this was happening for the first time, there was a lot of confusion regarding who could bat and who could bowl, but when the second Super Over finally took place, Punjab managed to get the job done. Pollard and Hardik Pandya hit Chris Jordan for 11 runs but Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal hammered Trent Boult for a six and two fours to seal the game for Punjab with two deliveries to spare.
23 balls, 14 runs, 7 wickets! In a batting collapse of the highest order, Hyderabad snatched a defeat from the jaws of victory, thus gifting Punjab two points at a crucial stage in the league. At the 16th over mark in the chase, SRH had the finishing line in sight. They needed 28 to win with the experienced duo of Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar at the crease, having faced over 20 balls each.
This is when Jordan and Arshdeep Singh set the ball rolling and picked up three wickets each to bundle SRH out for 114 in 19.5 overs. Earlier, every Punjab batsman struggled to get going as they could only manage 126/7 in their 20 overs. Chasing a modest total, SRH had the desired start with Warner (35) and Bairstow (19) adding 56 in 6.2 overs. Pandey and Shankar then took their time but the game was always in Hyderabad's bag. They were 100/3 at one stage, but that's when the collapse happened and SRH lost their remaining seven wickets in 23 deliveries.