With last-over thrillers galore, IPL gets another entertaining start
Teams have escaped from near-impossible situations this season to chase down targets, producing quite a few thrillers. And 2023 IPL is only just warming up.
It is less than three weeks into the 2023 Indian Premier League and it has already provided many riveting contests. With the league returning to the home-and-away format and new rules introduced, there was a great buzz heading into the season. And the matches, several of them brought fans to the edge of their seats, have lived up to expectations.
Of the 25 matches played so far (till Wednesday), 13 went to the last over with the chasing team still having a mathematical chance to win. Of these 13 games, the results didn’t heavily tilt in favour of the chasing teams – they won seven and the team defending the total six times.
This is exactly how the first 25 games of the last season too played out – 13 matches went to the last over with seven won by the chasing team and six by the one that was defending.
In the two seasons before that – 2021 and 2020 – 11 of the first 25 games went to the last over with the chasing team still in with a chance. In both seasons, the chasers won only thrice and the defenders eight times.
In the current IPL, what has also worked in favour of chasing down totals is the good mix of Indian and overseas players starring in victories. Rinku Singh and Sandeep Sharma have made crucial contributions for their teams while Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer and some others too have lived up to expectations.
Here, we take a look at the thrillers in the initial phase of the league.
GT vs KKR: This match could go down as one of IPL’s very best. Titans opted to bat in Ahmedabad and made 204/4 with Sai Sudharsan (53) and Vijay Shankar (63) leading the way. In reply, KKR’s chase was led by Venkatesh Iyer (83) and skipper Nitish Rana (45), but they still needed an improbable 39 to win off the last eight deliveries. Rinku Singh, on eight off 14 at that stage, turned things around in jaw-dropping fashion. He hit left-arm pacer Joshua Little for a six and four to end the 19th over before hitting five sixes in a row off Yash Dayal in the last over. KKR won by three wickets to send their fans into frenzied celebration.
RCB vs LSG: Virat Kohli (61), Faf du Plessis (79) and Glenn Maxwell (59) helped RCB post 212/2 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. LSG were 105/5 in the 12th over when Nicholas Pooran took over, hitting a 19-ball 62 to leave his team with five to get off the last over. The drama wasn’t over. The scores were tied with one ball remaining and LSG nine down. Avesh Khan was on strike against Harshal Patel with Ravi Bishnoi at the other end. Patel attempted to run out Bishnoi as he backed up too far but missed as the bowler had advanced too far. Patel bowled the final ball again but didn’t attempt a run-out despite Bishnoi setting off early again. Khan didn’t connect but ran a bye and ‘keeper Dinesh Karthik couldn’t collect the ball cleanly to effect a run out, handing LSG a memorable win.
CSK vs RR: Rajasthan batted first at Chepauk and made 175/8 thanks to contributions from Jos Buttler (52), Devdutt Padikkal (38), R Ashwin (30) and Shimron Hetmyer (30). Chennai slumped from 92/2 to 113/6 in a span of three overs. With 54 needed off 18 balls, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja launched a sensational assault. They scored 14 and 19 off the 18th and 19th overs respectively, leaving CSK to get 21 off the last over. Sandeep Sharma bowled consecutive wides before Dhoni hit two sixes in a row. CSK needed five runs to win off the last ball. Dhoni was ready to go for a mighty heave with the crowd on its feet, but Sharma showed incredible composure and nailed a yorker, handing RR a dramatic three-run win.
GT vs RR: The Titans had beaten Rajasthan on all three occasions the previous season, including the final. The champions, playing at home, posted 177/7 despite no batter getting a fifty. In reply, Rajasthan looked headed for defeat at 66/4 after 12 overs, still needing an improbable 112 off 48 balls. GT looked set to make it four wins out of four against RR, but skipper Sanju Samson and Hetmyer never stopped believing. Samson smashed Rashid Khan, arguably the best spinner in T20 cricket, for three sixes in a row to finish with a 32-ball 60. Hetmyer took charge thereafter and hit five sixes, scoring a 26-ball 56*. With Dhruv Jurel (18 off 10) and R Ashwin (10 off 3) also chipping in, RR completed the chase with four balls to spare.