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The top-six close encounters of IPL 2021

Last updated on 12 May 2021 | 08:18 AM
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The top-six close encounters of IPL 2021

There were some last-over finishes, while one game went to the Super Over

When it comes to the Indian Premier League, one thing is guaranteed, that you are bound to get entertained. However, the 14th edition of the lucrative T20 league didn't go as planned because COVID-19 managed to breach the bio-bubble of four franchises and the tournament had to be suspended indefinitely. There were still 29 matches played and quite a few of them turned out to be thrillers.

So, here are the five games that stood out this season (thus far), not necessarily in that order.

Rajasthan vs Punjab, Match 4

For a brief moment, this game felt like the first fixture between these two sides in Sharjah last year. Then, Rahul Tewatia brought Rajasthan home out of nowhere. Here, Sanju Samson almost repeated the feat. Only difference being that then, Tewatia built on a platform that Samson laid for him. But, Samson here did it all by himself with a little help from a brief effervescence of Jos Buttler, Shivam Dube and Riyan Parag. A pitch that saw 438 runs in 40 overs has to be a bowler’s grave. But, if most of those runs came from players like KL Rahul and Samson, it was also an evening filled with an overdose of eye-pleasing strokes.

Asked to bat, Rahul (50-ball 91), Chris Gayle (28-ball 40) and Deepak Hooda (28-ball 64) helped Punjab amass 221/6 in their 20 overs. It was also a night of Chetan Sakariya who stood out with a spell of 3/31 on a bowler’s graveyard. In reply, RR lost their openers early and they needed 127 off 10 overs. By the half way mark of the innings, Samson was on 41 off 30 balls, but that's when put on a show to remember. The likes of Buttler and Parag chipped in with fiery cameos but it was Samson who hitting everyone out of the park.

Samson whacked Jhye Richardson for 19 runs in the 18th over and got the equation down to 21 off 12. Riley Meredith then only conceded eight runs in the penultimate over and Arshdeep Singh was asked to bowl the final over with 13 runs to defend. He kept his nerve to keep Rajasthan down to only two runs in the first three balls but then got smoked over long-off for a six. In what turned out to be a questionable move, Samson refused a single off the next ball that would have had Chris Morris on the strike for the last ball. Samson then failed to clear the sweeper cover fielder on the final delivery and Punjab won by four runs.

Rajasthan vs Delhi, Match 7

There's something special about bowlers dominating the show at the Wankhede in T20s. From Jaydev Unadkat to Chris Woakes, from Mustafizur Rahman to Avesh Khan, tonight’s game between Rajasthan and Delhi celebrated them in all might. Yet all it took were 10 balls for Morris to turn the game around to hand Delhi an inexplicable three-wicket loss. After Rishabh Pant (32-ball 51) dragged Delhi to 147/8, Rajasthan were reduced to 42/5 inside 10 overs, with Woakes, Avesh and Kagiso Rabada wreaking havoc. David Miller (43-ball 62) and Tewatia steadied the ship by putting on a 48-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Tewatia was dismissed in the 15th over but Miller smashed five boundaries in two overs to ensure the game was well within the reach. It was a roller-coaster in many ways that never for a moment you could be fully certain that the game was going one way. Miller smacked Avesh for two sixes before getting dismissed in the very same over. That's when Morris took over and blasted Rabada for two sixes in the 19th over. With 12 needed off 6 balls, Morris, who was denied the strike last game by his skipper, hammered Tom Curran for two maximums and sealed the game for RR. The South African scored 36* off just 18 deliveries.  

Kolkata vs Chennai, Match 15

This game was not supposed to get this close! Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis put up a batting masterclass and helped Chennai amass 220 against Kolkata. Deepak Chahar then did his thing with the new ball and reduced Kolkata to 31/5 before the end of six overs. The Men in Purple looked down and out but Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Pat Cummins refused to throw in the towel and almost ended up outmuscling MS Dhoni and Co.

Kolkata skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and asked Chennai to bat first. However, the opening combination of Gaikwad (42-ball 64) and du Plessis (60-ball 95*) put on 115 runs and propelled Chennai to a massive first innings total. The game looked dead and gone before the powerplay ended in the second innings, but that's when Russell, Karthik and Cummins went berserk and kept Kolkata alive till the very last over. It was Karthik (24-ball 40) and Russell (22-ball 54) who started the carnage before Cummins (34-ball 66*) joined the party and ripped apart Chennai's bowling attack.

If you combine Sam Curran and Shardul Thakur's bowling figures, the two leaked 106 runs in just 7.1 overs. The former was whacked for 30 runs in an over by Cummins but managed to bounce back and displayed tremendous courage for his age. Curran bowled a superb 19th over and got the equation down to 20 off 6. Cummins was still there but Kolkata were already nine down. Things could have taken a wild turn, but before anything could happen, Prasidh Krishna was run out on the first delivery of the final over and Chennai managed to win by 18 runs.

Hyderabad vs Delhi, Match 20

It was a game of inches. David Warner ran a short run on the final ball of Hyderabad’s innings in the Super Over which brought down Delhi’ target to 8, instead of 9. It proved to be a decisive moment as Delhi scampered through to the target with a leg bye each on the final two balls. However, that was not the only big moment in the game which went through various ups and downs on its way to a tie. Hyderabad seemed down and out in a run chase of 160 which was clearly 20 runs above the par score observed at the Chepauk, but Kane Williamson’s calmness and class kept pushing Hyderabad towards the target.

Walking in at 28/1, Williamson (51-ball 66*) single-handedly carried Hyderabad’s chase with his expertise of tackling spin and finding gaps. David Warner was run out for just 6, while Jonny Bairstow (18-ball 38) did his thing but couldn't survive for long. There was no contribution from the middle-order but Williamson kept fighting. But, with 39 required off the last three overs, he still required someone to provide the impetus from the other end. That's when Jagadeesha Suchith (6-ball 14*) stepped up and played a superb cameo. With 16 needed off 6, Rabada was smashed for a four and a six in his first three deliveries but the paceman gave away three single in as many deliveries and the game went to the Super Over.

Earlier, Prithvi Shaw (39-ball 53), Shikhar Dhawan (26-ball 28), Pant (27-ball 37) and Steve Smith (25-ball 34) all chipped in and propelled Delhi to 159/4. Once the game was tied, SRH for some reason didn't send Bairstow to bat and went with Warner and Williamson. Axar Patel gave away only seven runs, and then Pant reverse lapped Rashid Khan and got the equation down to 2 off 3 balls. Pant and Dhawan managed those two runs off leg byes and took Delhi over the line.  

Delhi vs Bangalore, Match 22

Shimron Hetmyer almost overpowered AB de Villiers' brilliance but Mohammed Siraj somehow managed to defend 14 runs in the final over and gave RCB a thrilling one-run win over Delhi in Ahmedabad. Rishabh Pant too was there till the very end but couldn't finish the job in what was Delhi's 200th IPL game. Asked to bat, Bangalore lost their openers early before Rajat Patidar (22-ball 31) and Glenn Maxwell (20-ball 25) chipped in with decent cameos. RCB needed something special from de Villiers and the Superman from South Africa didn't disappoint. The swashbuckling right-hander whacked three fours and five sixes in his 42-ball 75* and propelled his team to a competitive total of 171/5 in their 20 overs.

All of a sudden, prior to the second innings, there was a sandstorm and that kept the dew away. Every RCB bowler bowled with great discipline and had Delhi on the mat before Hetmyer walked in and started hitting sixes for fun. Pant was still around but looked far from his best. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored 58* off 48 deliveries - his slowest fifty in IPL, while Hetmyer smashed two fours and four maximums in his 25-ball 53* and kept Delhi alive till the very last over. Harshal Patel finished with figures of 2/37, while Siraj conceded 44 runs for his one wicket, but when the time came to step up, the two young Indian bowlers did the job for Bangalore.

Delhi needed 46 off 18 and Hetmyer blasted Kyle Jamieson, who had given only 11 runs in his first three overs, for three sixes in the 18th over. Harshal then bowled a pretty decent penultimate over, giving away 11 runs. And, Siraj was superb in the final over and kept nailing those yorkers, not allowing Pant and Hetmyer to get underneath it. Pant slammed two fours in the last two balls but it was simply just not enough.

Mumbai vs Chennai, Match 27

On a small ground with an excellent batting pitch, the power-hitting was at its brutal best. Bowlers had nowhere to hide, even on the few occasions when they pitched the ball in the right areas. Jasprit Bumrah leaking 56 runs in four overs, his most expensive spell in his IPL history, says a lot about the conditions. Earlier, on the back of du Plessis’ 50 off 28 balls, Moeen Ali’s 56 off 36 and Ambati Rayudu’s 72* off 27 balls, Chennai smashed their highest total against Mumbai Indians.

But, in the end, it was Kieron Pollard’s mighty 87* from 34 balls that superseded all batting efforts to take Mumbai to their first successful 200-plus run chase and the second highest run chase in IPL history. Pollard came out to bat at a time when Chennai had their foot in door. The required run-rate was already touching 14 but that's when Pollard turned the game on its head. He clobbered Ravindra Jadeja for three maximums in the 13th over and never looked back from thereon. Chennai tried many things against Pollard but nothing with conviction. They tried bowling wide of the crease, short-length deliveries, slower balls but there was no respite.

A stunning 17th over from Curran - two runs and a wicket - kept their hopes up. But there was no support from the other end. Shardul conceded 17 in the 18th over. It also consisted an improbable event - du Plessis dropping a catch, a sitter by his standards. The drop proved to be critical when Pollard single-handedly razed off the 16 runs required in the last over. There were yorkers, miscued full tosses but when it got down to 8 off the last two balls, Pollard hammered a full toss from Lungi Ngidi for a six and then sprinted across for two to fetch two points for Mumbai.

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