From Rishabh Pant’s mammoth 128 to Shane Watson’s trophy-winning hundred, the eleventh edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) gave us many memorable moments of joy as cricket fans. Tilted largely in favour of the batsmen, the Twenty20 format are generally dominated by the power hitters who are more or less capable of sending the ball out of the park. The margin of error becomes very less in the shorter format for the bowlers as they need to show extra skills to stop the mayhem. In the recently-concluded IPL, we saw some excellent batting performances from batters that changed the course of the match and made a huge impact in the outcome.
After 51 days of non-stop cricketing action, we pick top five best knocks of the tournament which will be etched in our memory for a very long time:-
1. Shane Watson
The former Australian all-rounder proves that if you are a quality player then age is not a barrier in the T20 cricket. The 36-year old player led Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL title by smashing an amazing century against Sunrisers Hyderabad the best bowling side of this year’s IPL. Watson scored an unbeaten 117 in the final of the mega tournament. It was a sloppy start for Watson as he was seen struggling against SRH fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He played out 10 balls on 0 and got his first run of the 11th one that he faced. But post the end of the Powerplay, there was nothing stopping him and he took only 57 balls to score 117 runs.
2. Chris Gayle
It was a shock for everyone when no franchise showed any interest for biggest hitter in world cricket – Chris Gayle during the 2018 IPL Player Auction in January. After initial rounds of bidding, Kings XI Punjab decided to include the Universe Boss in their squad and bought him at his base price of Rs. 2 Crore. Gayle silenced his critics in his second match of the season as he smashed a fine century to guide Punjab to a brilliant win against SRH by 15 runs. The sturdy Jamaican spared no one from Rashid Khan to Sidharth Kaul and went on to play a good knock of 104 runs in just 63 deliveries that included 11 maximums.
3. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
This year in IPL we saw a different version of Dhoni or we can say the ‘vintage Dhoni’. He was back to his A game this year with his destructive batting performances. One of his best knock in IPL 2018 was against Royal Challenger Banglore at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium where he hit 70 runs in just 34 balls while chasing a huge target of 205. He gave all the fans a glimpse of his old self as the CSK skipper hit seven sixes and one four in his destructive innings.
4. Faf du Plessis
The Proteas captain was the smartest buy of this years’ auction as he was retained by CSK by using the RTM card for just Rs. 1.7 Crore. It was a mixed season for du Plessis until the Qualifier 1 where he played a match-winning knock of unbeaten 67 when other Chennai batsmen failed to contribute much against the probing Sunrisers’ bowling attack. The knock became even more valuable as it came at the right time and led CSK to the finals of IPL 2018 where they lifted the trophy by beating Kane Williamson-led SRH.
5. Rishabh Pant
Once again Delhi Daredevils had a tough season in this year’s Indian Premier League as they finished at the bottom end of the points table. But the form of wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant was the biggest positive for the Delhi side and gave something to their fans to cheer about in an otherwise forgettable season. The Delhi-born left-hander finished the season with 684 runs, including eight fifties and a century that was lauded by many as perhaps the most entertaining knock of the season.
Pant’s pyrotechnics were best showcased during his memorable knock against Sunrisers when he scored 128* runs in just 63 balls which is also the highest score by an Indian in IPL history. The most important fact of this innings was that Delhi total score was 187 and Pant contributed 128 in that.