Isn’t it unbelievable that the Indian Premier League is into its 10th season? It seems like just yesterday that Brendon McCullum was clobbering the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers to every corner of the stadium. How time flies!
The very first match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium had given the promise that, if anything, the IPL was going to be entertaining. And boy has it lived up to the expectations. Yes, there were controversies that threatened to nullify the league altogether but the IPL never stopped being the spectacle that it currently is.
Extra Cover: IPL 2017: Top 5 last ball finishes
Over the years, we have seen some enthralling matches, some nail-biting finishes and some incredible performances. Here, we list the five most exciting or hard-fought matches that will remain etched in the memories of cricket aficionados forever.
#5 Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders, Match 1 IPL 2008
It was the very first match of the Indian Premier League and there were many fans who were apprehensive about the new league.
Royal Challengers Bangalore were hosting Kolkata Knight Riders and both teams boasted a number of high-profile players. However, a certain New Zealander, Brendon McCullum, had his mind set. Opening the innings for KKR, the wicket-keeper batsman scored an unbeaten 158 off just 73 balls.
KKR piled 222 runs on the board, courtesy of McCullum’s annihilation of the opposition bowlers. RCB were always going to fall short, but the immense pressure induced a collapse that saw them being bundled out for a paltry 82.
It wasn’t the most hotly contested match. In fact, it was a little too one-sided. But the crowd went home happy, despite the home team’s loss and it set the tone for the league in the years to come.
#4 Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers, Final IPL 2009
It was a match worthy of a final. Ultimately, Deccan Chargers would go on to win against Royal Challengers Bangalore in a match that twisted and turned at every possible juncture. There was nail-biting tension and drama – everything that a final warranted.
DC were asked to bat first by RCB captain Anil Kumble and the decision turned out to be a good one. Adam Gilchrist was quick to depart and T. Suman soon followed. Herschelle Gibbs, though, held one end and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma chipped in with small cameos. But it was the former South African batsman who remained unbeaten on 53 and helped his side reach a respectable score of 143. Chasing 144, in a final, under the lights, was never going to be easy and it was made all the more difficult by RP Singh, who was bowling with fire.
RCB batsmen failed to build any substantial partnerships as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Despite Roelof van der Merwe and Ross Taylor’s fight at the end, they fell short by six runs.
#3 Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals, Match 56 IPL 2014
The scenes at the Wankhede Stadium at the end of this match were absolutely incredible. After a horrendous start to the campaign, just when it seemed like MI had no way to make it to the playoffs, they pulled off the impossible.
Not only did they need to win the match, but they had to chase whatever was set by Rajasthan Royals in just 14.3 overs to up their net run rate. RR set a target of 190 with the help of some mighty blows from Sanju Samson and Karun Nair and it was a tough ask for the Mumbai batsmen.
Corey Anderson, though, took matters into his own hands and started a full powered assault on the opposition. Helped by Michael Hussey and Ambati Rayudu, they reached a stage when they needed 9 off 3 deliveries. However, after three deliveries, the scores were only tied.
Everyone thought MI had come agonisingly close to achieving the impossible. However, the drama was not finished. MI still had a chance – they needed a boundary off the next delivery! That’s when Aditya Tare hit a huge six off James Faulkner to take his side into the playoffs.
#2 Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, Match 10 IPL 2009
In the very first super over of the IPL, Rajasthan Royals triumphed over Kolkata Knight Riders in an intense fixture in Cape Town. Yusuf Pathan broke the tied match with two sixes and a boundary in the super over to chase down 16 runs in just four deliveries.
Earlier, RR batting first, lost two quick wickets. However, Pathan came to the crease and scored a quick-fire 21-ball 42 to help his side post a respectable score of 150 on the board. A cameo from Abhishek Raut helped as well.
For KKR, Chris Gayle produced the initial onslaught but four quick dismissals halted their chase. Sourav Ganguly then played a captain’s knock and almost singlehandedly won it for KKR. However, in the penultimate ball, with two needed off two, he edged one to ‘keeper Kamran Akmal.
Ishant Sharma could manage only one run off the last delivery to take the match into the super over. As Gayle hit three boundaries, it once again seemed like KKR were on the cusp of victory, however, Pathan clearly had other ideas.
#1 Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab, Match 54 IPL 2010
Chennai Super Kings had to win the match to keep their hopes of making it to the semi-finals alive and facing them were an upbeat Kings XI Punjab side led by Kumar Sangakkara. Things were not going according to plan for the MS Dhoni-led CSK as Shaun Marsh and Sangakkara made merry on a flat wicket.
Buoyed by same late blows by Irfan Pathan, KXIP set a massive target of 193 for CSK. Then, they lost both the openers, Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay cheaply. The scoreboard read 27-2 after four overs and the Dharamsala crowd believed that victory was theirs.
Suresh Raina and S. Badrinath steadied the ship with a 62-run partnership but even Raina was dismissed halfway through the innings. The stage was set for Dhoni.
Channelling the buccaneer spirit which had made him famous, Dhoni plundered the hapless Punjab bowlers. In the last two overs, 29 runs were needed but the former Indian skipper showed the world once again why he is the best finisher in the game. He finished off with two sixes as CSK won with two balls to spare.