Defending totals are not easy in T20 cricket, as India found out against West Indies in the T20 World Cup semi-finals. The biggest of targets are easily chased down in T20 given the pitch conditions across 40 overs do not matter as much as they do in the longer formats of the game.
Dew could be an issue but it generally helps the team batting second. Teams chasing have a clear sight of the target and no target seem unreachable these days. That is why low scores are very rarely defended in T20 cricket. Sample this – a score under 110 has never been defended in T20.
Just to give you an idea of how big or small that number is, the 50-over equivalent of that score (in terms of required run-rate) in ODIs is 275. It is hard to defend because a lot can happen over 50 overs but that scope reduces drastically for a 20-over game.
It doesn’t help that batsmen playing T20 cricket are generally less risk averse and hence play the game with greater braggadocio – a style that helps make the game exciting and flamboyant. Therefore, we dedicate this article to the lowest totals ever defended in T20 cricket – has to be a monumental effort. (Mind you we haven’t included matches like the one between RCB and CSK at Bangalore, 2013 when 106 was scored in just 8 overs and was defended by RCB)
#5A Sunrisers Hyderabad defending 126 against Pune Warriors, Hyderabad, 2013
Sunrisers have always been amongst the better bowling units in the IPL and they showed exactly why in the third match of the 2013 IPL. Batting first, they scored a paltry 126 on a decent batting strip with Thisara Perera top-scoring with 30 off just 18 balls. Bhuvneshwar Kumar once again was the pick of the bowlers for Pune with figures of 1/17, well supported by Rahul Sharma, who managed figures of 1/21 in his four.
Pune’s chase was, however, terrible. They got off the blocks slowly and then lost wickets in a hurry. After being steady at 36 for no loss in the 7th over, Pune dropped to 50 for 4 by the 12th.
A brief partnership later, the collapse started again as they went from 83 for 4 to 104 all out in the 19th over. Dale Steyn was sensational with a spell of 3/11 in his 3.5 overs cleaning up the Pune lower order over a span of four balls. Amit Mishra was also top class with figures of 3/19 in his 4 overs. Eventually, SRH won by a comfortable 22 runs.
#5B Royal Challengers Bangalore defending 126 against Chennai Super Kings, Chennai, 2008
The RCB of 2008 wasn’t as strong as the RCB of today. Therefore, this match could be called an upset of sorts as Rahul Dravid marshalled his troops terrifically well. Batting first, RCB scored just 126, Dravid top-scoring with a 39-ball 47 with Praveen Kumar giving a late lift with an 11-ball cameo that brought 21 runs. Albie Morkel, meanwhile, registered figures of 4/32 for CSK.
CSK started solidly as Stephen Fleming and Parthiv Patel adding 60 in 9 overs. But there wasn’t much after that. CSK went from 85 for 2 to 112 all out losing wickets in a heap with Suresh Raina left stranded on one end on 21*.
The wrecker-in-chief was Anil Kumble, who managed sensational figures of 3-14 in his 4 overs. He triggered the collapse by picking the openers Patel and Fleming and then Badrinath in the same over in which Fleming got out. He was deservedly given Man of the Match.
#4 Mumbai Indians defending 120 against Pune Warriors, Pune, 2012
In the 45th match of the 2012 IPL, the Mumbai Indians showed how sweet revenge could be. They had lost the first leg to Pune Warriors in a low-scoring thriller at the Wankhede. This time around, batting first, MI failed once again managing just 120 with the bat.
Sachin Tendulkar top-scored with 34 off 35 balls. After a 50-run opening partnership, MI capitulated thanks to brilliant bowling by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who managed a spell of 2/9 in 3 overs to support Nehra, who registered figures of 2/19 in his 4 overs.
In reply, Pune seemed to be doing fine at 40 for 1 in the 7th over. But they lost three quick wickets. Ganguly and Mithun Manhas added 47 for the fifth wicket but after Ganguly’s fall in the 17th over, Pune couldn’t get the final hurrah.
Eventually, they fell excruciatingly short of the target losing the match by 1 run despite Manhas’ 34-ball unbeaten 42. Harbhajan Singh, captaining the side, was brilliant with figures of 2/18 in his 4 overs while Lasith Malinga managed figures of 2/25.
#3 Sunrisers Hyderabad defending 119 against Pune Warriors, Pune, 2013
SRH and Pune Warriors India gave us two low-scoring thrillers in 2013 fighting tooth and nail for the points. In their second face-off, SRH batted first and garnered only 119 in their 20 overs. That was after a horror start that saw them drop to 17 for 4 and then 44 for 6. Rescue acts came from Biplab Samantray and Amit Mishra, who scored 37 and 30 respectively. SRH’s 40-run eighth wicket partnership gave their score some respectability.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the pick of the bowlers for Pune, with figures of 3/18 in his 4 overs.
Pune started well in reply but soon went from 38 for no loss in the fifth over to 57 for 3 in the ninth. Despite that wobble, they were still cruising at 101 for 4 in the 17th over when the collapse started. They lost 6 wickets in the space of 12 deliveries and just 7 runs.
The Warriors were all out for 108 losing the match by 11 runs. Player of the Match, Amit Mishra, who had earlier contributed with the bat was also the best bowler of the evening with figures of 4/19 in his 4 overs, supported well by Thisara Perera who registered figures of 3/20.
#2 Kings XI Punjab defending 119 against Mumbai Indians, Durban, 2009
In the 20th match of the 2009 IPL, Kings XI Punjab and MI gave us a breathtaking contest. Batting first, Punjab never really got going, slipping to 52 for 4 in the 11th over. Sangakkara’s 44-ball 45, which won him the Player of the Match, was instrumental in taking the team to 119 for 8 in 20 overs, the next highest individual score being 12.
However, Punjab’s new ball bowlers brought Punjab into the match by striking early. Jayasuriya was gone in the first over and Sachin Tendulkar lost his wicket in the second. MI were 12 for 3 in the 5th over before JP Duminy and Dwayne Bravo added 33. Following Bravo’s dismissal, Duminy added another 49 with Abhishek Nayar who made 15.
However, Duminy couldn’t do it on his own as MI needing just 26 in the last 3 overs with six wickets in hand, fell prey to some tight bowling and eventually fell short by just 3 runs. Yusuf Abdulla was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2/19, including the big wicket of Duminy in the final over. Irfan Pathan was brilliant as well with 2/20 in his quota of four overs.
#1 Chennai Super Kings defending 116 against Kings XI Punjab, Durban, 2009
Once the IPL behemoths, CSK despite their batting riches did tumble once in a while. But they were a winning unit because of the way they built pressure and defended even their smaller scores. The lowest total defended in IPL is 116 by CSK against KXIP. Batting first, CSK started decently but then quickly lost way going from 54 for 1 in the 7th over to 116 all out. Parthiv Patel, the opener, top-scored with 32.
However, KXIP’s chase never really started. They were 6 for 1 in the second over. A brief partnership of 26 runs ensued but from then on it was a procession, despite good batters like Kumar Sangakkara and Yuvraj Singh.
In a torturous chase, KXIP crawled their way to 92 for 8 in their 20 overs. Muttiah Muralitharan was the star of the show for CSK with figures of 2/8 in his 4 overs. Ashwin had figures of 2/13 in 4 overs and Raina wasn’t too bad with figures of 2/17 in his four overs, showing how CSK used their spin on a Durban pitch to thwart KXIP.