The 12th season of the Indian Premier League, like every other season ensured a gripping tournament with nearly 20 games going to the last ball of the 20th over of the second innings. Three teams finished on 18 points, three with 12 points and two with 11 points, showing how closely contested the season was. And for the first time in the history of IPL, a team with 12 points entered the playoff stage.
Here is my pick for the top 5 matches of IPL 2019.
1. Match 10 – DELHI CAPITALS vs KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Delhi Capitals (Previously Delhi Daredevils), came into this tournament as the dark horse led by young Shreyas Iyer backed by heavy weights like Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly in the team management. After a comprehensive win against the Mumbai Indians and a close loss against Chennai Super Kings, Delhi faced Kolkatta who had a good start to the IPL with 2 wins out of 2 games. Kolkatta put up an above par total of 185 thanks to Andre Russel’s fireworks and well supported by Dinesh Kartik. In reply, Prithvi Shaw showed his worth and well supported by Shreyas Iyer, Delhi were cruising through till the 19th over. With 7 required of the last over, Delhi made a mess of the chase and led to the first super over of this season.
Delhi on batting first in the super over, scored 10 runs – a score with the likes of Kagiso Rabada is capable to defend and rightly so, against an in-form Andre Russel, nailed the Yorkers to restrict KKR less than 4 runs of the target in the super over.
2. Match 24 – MUMBAI INDIANS vs KINGS XI PUNJAB
After 2 comprehensive wins for Mumbai, they looked to continue their momentum against Punjab. A top class century by KL Rahul and a quick half century by Gayle helped Punjab to reach 197. Mumbai struggled in the middle overs losing wickets at regular intervals and with nearly 60 runs to score of the last 5 overs and only 4 wickets in hand, Punjab fancied their chances with only one recognized batsman in Kieron Pollard. The stand in captain single handedly took the team in a winning position till the last over before getting out leaving Mumbai to score 5 of the last 4 balls. Youngster Alzzari Joseph held his nerves and took Mumbai over the line when Mumbai needed 2 of the last ball to win.
3. Match 39 – ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE vs CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
At a small Chinnaswamy stadium, especially with big names in the Bangalore batting line up, Chennai did pretty well to restrict Bangalore for 161. But Chennai were put completely on the back foot with 4 wickets down in the power play itself. Rayadu and MS Dhoni were on the recovery mode with some occasional boundaries though wickets continued to fall after the 14th over, leaving Chennai with a near to impossible target of 26 to win in the last over, with MS Dhoni on strike and Umesh Yadav to bowl. With 16 runs being scored in the first three balls, Chennai sensed an improbable win and 2 to win off the last ball with Dhoni on strike, the odds shifted in favour of Chennai but only to their disappointment to find MSD being beaten of the last ball and Parthiv Patel’s direct throw at striker’s end leaving Shardul Thakur few centimeters off the crease while running for a bye! Game – Set – Match and Bangalore pulled off a thrilling one run win.
4. Match 51 – MUMBAI INDIANS vs SUN RISERS HYDERABAD
Towards the fag end of the league and Mumbai and Hyderabad eying for a place in the top 4, Mumbai opted to bat first and scored 162, thanks to sensible half century by Quinton De Kock. But with Mumbai’s quality bowling and Hyderabad’s main openers back with their national teams, it was never easy though Manish Pandey and Mohd. Nabi kept fighting till the end. With 17 needed off the last over, Nabi scored a six of the third ball followed by throwing away his wicket in the very next ball. And 7 needed of the last ball, Manish Pandey cleared the fence with ease leading to the second super over of this season.
A tired Manish Pandey gets run out in the first ball of the super over, Nabi scoring a six of a top edge of the third ball and getting bowled to a yorker by Bumrah, Mumbai needed only a mere 9 runs and the two power hitters Pandya and Pollard finished it off in 3 balls.
5. Match 60, Finals – MUMBAI INDIANS vs CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
IPL saved its best match of the season for the last. As rightly pointed out by MS Dhoni in the presentation ceremony, the team which committed lesser mistakes in the match won eventually. Chennai’s bowling was the limelight this season, primarily thanks to the turners at their home ground and an in -form Imran Tahir, unlike last season when the openers and MS Dhoni had a great season with the bat.
Chennai restricted Mumbai to a below par 149. Chennai openers did get to a start which they wished, but Rahul Chahar applied the much needed brakes in the middle overs and some inspired bowling changes brought the game back in balance.
The game saw many errors – overthrows, dropped catches, mis fields, MS Dhoni’s run out and Watson’s brain fade in the last over. But with the masters of death bowling, Mumbai always stood a fair chance though Chennai required only 18 of the last two overs with three recognized batsmen. In the end, it was Bumrah’s brilliant death bowling and Malinga’s experience that ensured Mumbai emerge champions and deserving winners by 1 run!