The independent voice of cricket

IPL 2024

From McCullum to Buttler: The 10 best IPL hundreds of all time

10 best IPL hundreds of all time
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

In the aftermath of Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 107 against the Kolkata Knight Riders, here are ten of the best IPL hundreds of all time.

10. Andrew Symonds (117 in 53 balls, Deccan Chargers vs Rajasthan Royals, 2008)

Symonds hit 11 fours and seven sixes – almost all of them conventional strokes – in this outrageous hundred where, among his teammates, only Rohit Sharma (36 in 30 balls) went past 16. He was particularly brutal on Shane Warne, off whom he took 35 in 13 balls. Unfortunately, Warne had the last laugh, pulling off a heist with the bat: the winning hit coming off Symonds.

9. Virat Kohli (113 not out in 50 balls, Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kings XI Punjab, 2016)

RCB’s 211-3 does not seem outrageous until you realise that it was a rain-reduced 15-over clash. It was not a quick start – Kohli made only 18 off the first 14 balls he faced – before he hit eight sixes in the next 36. Of his eight IPL tons, this was the only one where he scored at more than twice a run a ball, but that was not all: having split the webbing, Kohli played in the match with several stitches on his left hand.

8. Wriddhiman Saha (115 not out in 55 balls, Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders, 2014)

Saha’s powerplay-hitting is well known – among Indians at the IPL, only Virender Sehwag has a better strike rate from more balls – but in this game, he came out at 30-2 after 5.1 overs and blasted the first hundred in an IPL final. He reduced Manan Vohra (67 in 52 balls) to a spectator, while his other teammates managed only eight runs between them. Of particular note was Saha’s assault on Sunil Narine, whom he took for 35 in 18 balls. Unfortunately, it all went in vain.

7. Shane Watson (117 not out in 57 balls, Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, 2018)

By the time they emerged from the 2018 auction, it was evident that Chennai wanted a core of senior professionals. One of the tricenarians in the squad, Watson was counterintuitively cautious as CSK set out to chase 179 in the final: he played out a maiden over, and did not score a single run off the first ten balls he faced. After five overs, they were 20-1. By the 19th, the match was over – for the 36-year-old Watson had plundered the highest score in an IPL final. He got 17 from the 20 balls he faced from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, and 100 from the other 37. The experience showed.

6. Virender Sehwag (119 in 56 balls, Delhi Daredevils vs Deccan Chargers, 2011)

You would back Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, and Amit Mishra to defend 180, especially if seven opposition batters manage only 50 in 59 balls between them. Steyn and Ishant shared 4-40 from eight overs as Sehwag took his time, scoring only 13 off his first 15 balls. Off the next 15, he slammed 49. By the time he got out, the match was Delhi’s to lose.

5. Chris Gayle (175 not out in 66 balls, Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Pune Warriors India, 2013)

Of Gayle’s 22 T20 hundreds – at least twice anyone else’s tally – this was the most astonishingly brutal. More than a decade later, it also remains the highest score in the history of the format. In three separate overs that day, he took 28 off Mitchell Marsh, 28 in five balls off (of all people) Aaron Finch, and 26 in five balls off Ali Murtaza – along with several overs where he crossed the 15-mark. Still not done, he struck twice in his only over with the ball and brought out the Gangnam dance to celebrate.

4. Yusuf Pathan (100 in 37 balls, Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians, 2010)

Chasing 213, Rajasthan were 40-3 when Yusuf walked out. Few doubted a Mumbai win, especially after they reached 69-4 after 10 overs. Then, in the 11th over, he hit Murtaza for three consecutive sixes. When he got the strike back in the next over, off R Sathish, he slammed two sixes and three fours, splitting the match wide open. The asking rate was still over 12, but Yusuf kept the Royals in the hunt, smashing a 37-ball hundred. Then, eager to regain strike, he stepped out – and could not make it back. Rajasthan lost by four runs.

3. Jos Buttler (107 not out in 60 balls, Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders, 2024)

To win the match, Rajasthan needed to score 224 – in other words, equal the existing IPL record. Buttler came with an injured leg, and would perhaps have sat out had the Impact Player rule not enabled the Royals to use him for only as long as he batted. RR slumped to 121-6 in the 13th over; by the time Rovman Powell fell, they needed 46 in 19 balls, but KKR had made inroads into the long tail. Watching all this was Buttler, who had just opened up after being 42 off 34 at one point. Knowing he could not afford to go off strike, he ran on one leg to ensure he faced very ball of the last three overs, and hit spin and pace with equal ease to see his team home off the last ball.

2. Paul Valthaty (120 not out in 63 balls, Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings, 2011)

Chennai, the defending champions, would retain the title that year. Punjab would finish outside the top four. Chennai were expected to win, especially after putting up 188-4 and getting Adam Gilchrist early, but in Valthaty, they found a most unexpected adversary. He found the boundary 19 times and crossed it twice; and while none of his teammates went past 20, he saw Punjab home with five balls to spare. Outside this innings, Valthaty’s IPL career reads 385 at a strike rate of 108. There is nothing remarkable in these numbers, but on that one night, he decimated a much-feared bowling attack virtually on his own.

1. Brendon McCullum (158 not out in 73 balls, Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2008)

Since he arrived in India for the IPL, McCullum had looked out of sorts – to the extent that assistant coach Matthew Mott spent extra time with him in the nets. When the first ever IPL match went underway on a sweltering night, all he managed off the first five balls was a leg-bye. “I’d be more use to the team sitting back in the hutch than staying out there using up valuable balls,” he recalled in his autobiography.

But the next four balls, off Zaheer Khan, India’s best fast bowler at that point, went for four, four, six, four – and the spell was broken. Indian cricket has witnessed great hitters, but never someone who would hit 13 sixes in 73 balls against six international bowlers. As RCB wilted away, McCullum smashed the world record T20 score and “walked off elated that the fireworks hadn’t turned into a fizzer”. Whatever doubts hung over the IPL’s success disappeared. The next day, Lalit Modi personally thanked “the man who fast-tracked my dream into a reality”.

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99