The independent voice of cricket

Indian Premier League 2020

Unforgettable: the greatest IPL matches ever

by Will Cracknell 5 minute read

The thirteenth edition of the VIVO IPL kicks off in Mumbai on March 29 when defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Wankhede Stadium. To celebrate, Will Cracknell has looked back at ten of the greatest matches in the competition’s history, from incredible displays of hitting to nail-biting finishes.

2011, Match 70: Mumbai Indians (178-5, 20 overs) beat Kolkata Knight Riders (175-7, 20 overs) by five wickets

Mumbai Indians (MI) have a history of plucking last-gasp victories from the jaws of certain defeat, a habit which manifested itself in an enthralling final over in Kolkata nine years ago.

Seemingly down and out when Kieron Pollard‘s leg stump was uprooted with 40 runs required off 15, MI snaffled the unlikeliest of wins thanks to some inspired James Franklin hitting.

Requiring 21 from the final over, the New Zealander smashed Lakshmipathy Balaji for four consecutive fours before Ambati Rayudu launched the last ball – a leg-stump full toss – into a stunned Eden Gardens crowd to book MI’s place in the eliminator.

2010, Match 54: Chennai Super Kings (195-4, 19.4 overs) beat Kings XI Punjab (192-3, 20 overs) by six wickets

MS Dhoni has acquired somewhat of a reputation as a specialist ‘finisher’ in T20 cricket and it was nights like this in Dharamsala which explain why.

Needing to win to reach the semi-finals, CSK recovered from 27-2 after four overs to require 16 from the final Irfan Pathan over.

Their captain only needed the first four deliveries as he smashed 16 runs to finish on 54* from 29 balls and book CSK’s place in the knockout stages.

2016, Match 53: Rising Pune Supergiant (173-6, 20 overs) beat King’s XI Punjab (172-7, 20 overs) by four wickets

New franchise, same MS Dhoni. The stakes maybe weren’t as high – Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) were battling to avoid the wooden spoon rather than qualify for the knockouts – but the hitting was no less impressive.

RPS seemed destined to finish rock bottom with 22 required from the final five balls.

But Dhoni had other ideas, smoking Axar Patel for a four and three sixes – including walloping the final ball over midwicket into the crowd with a trademark helicopter shot – to complete one of the most improbable chases in IPL history.

2018, Match 5: Chennai Super Kings (205-5, 19.5 overs) beat Kolkata Knight Riders (202-6, 20 overs) by 5 wickets

Very rarely does a number 7 batsman blitz 11 sixes on course to 88* off 36 balls.

Andre Russell’s record total for an IPL player batting at seven or lower should have been the only story from this blistering encounter in Chennai – but was overshadowed by a sensational chase which saw CSK smash 17 from the decisive final over.

Were Russell’s efforts in vain? Perhaps not. The Jamaican would go on to be named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player – and fans of The Grade Cricketer might argue that breaking a world record in a losing side is an even better feeling than scoring a losing hundred.

2019, Match 19: Mumbai Indians (136-7, 20 overs) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad (96-10, 17.4 overs) by 40 runs

Not all great T20 matches are high scoring run fests. Defending a small total can be equally impressive, and none more so than last year’s thriller between MI and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).

Making his IPL debut, 22-year-old Antiguan Alzarri Joseph – only selected as Lasith Malinga was unavailable – bowled the tournament’s then top run scorer David Warner with his very first delivery.

Fast forward 3.4 overs and Joseph’s deceptive pace had seen him claim the best bowling figures in IPL history – his 6-12 bettering Sohail Tanvir’s previous record of 6-14 which had stood since the tournament’s first year in 2008.

2013, Match 31: Royal Challengers Bangalore (263-5, 20 overs) beat Pune Warriors India (133-9, 20 overs) by 130 runs

Devastating. Destructive. Dazzling. This was the Chris Gayle show, the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss’” out-of-this-world moment.

Gayle scored 175* off 66 balls, smashing IPL records for the highest ever individual score, fastest century (30 balls) and most sixes in an innings (17) as RCB posted the highest team total in the tournament’s history.

Any lingering doubts as to who should win the player of the match award were cast aside as Gayle took two wickets for five runs to (orange) cap a sensational individual performance.

2008, Match 1: Kolkata Knight Riders (222-3, 20 overs) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (82-10, 15.1 overs) by 140 runs

Although commentators predicted the IPL would change cricket as we knew it, it wasn’t until Brendon McCullum buffeted an unbeaten 158 on the tournament’s opening night that we saw precisely how.

In a spellbindingly powerful and ferocious display of stroke play, in which he hit more sixes (13) than fours (10), McCullum obliterated the previous world record (Cameron White’s 141* in 2006) for the most individual runs in a T20 innings.

2017, Final: Mumbai Indians (129-8, 20 overs) beat Rising Pune Supergiant (128-6, 20 overs) by one run

Rohit Sharma’s side have made a habit of finding their best form when their chances of victory are slimmest.

Having slumped to 79-7, Mumbai’s tournament appeared all over before strong lower-order hitting from Krunal Pandya and Mitchell Johnson hauled them to a total close to respectable.

And it proved to be Johnson’s night as the Australian defended seven runs from the last five balls – taking the wickets of Manoj Tiwary and countryman Steve Smith – to secure Mumbai’s third IPL title.

2019, Final: Mumbai Indians (149-8, 20 overs) beat Chennai Super Kings (148-7, 20 overs) by one run

Another single-run final ball victory, another triumph for MI.

Lasith Malinga – not even purchased in the 2018 auction after a series of unimpressive 2017 performances – and Jasprit Bumrah rescued MI with an exhibition of T20 death bowling.

Bumrah delivered a player-of-the-match spell of 2-14 from four overs, while Malinga conceded a miserly three runs from the final three deliveries, including trapping Shardul Thakur lbw on the last ball to deny CSK victory.

2014, Match 56: Mumbai Indians (195-5, 14.4 overs) beat Rajasthan Royals (189-4, 20 overs) by five wickets

Perhaps the greatest IPL finish of all. Rajasthan Royals (RR) conspired to lose a match they thought they had won. MI qualified for the playoffs having believed they had been eliminated.

Royals coach Rahul Dravid’s discarded cap lay crumpled on the dugout turf. MI batsman Aditya Tare sprinted from the wicket, his shirt pulled over his head like Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating a Champions League final winner.

The juxtaposition of emotions encapsulated a tumultuous qualification decider. Having elected to chase, MI needed to reach their target in 14.3 overs to move ahead of RR on net run rate.

Despite Corey Anderson’s thunderous 95* from 44 balls bringing RR within touching distance, his efforts appeared insufficient when Ambati Rayudu was run out looking for the second run his side needed to qualify.

Cue Rajasthan celebrations and Mumbai calculations. RR were – in fact – not yet through. MI, it transpired, could still qualify with a boundary from James Faulkner’s next ball.

Enter Tare, who sparked astonishing scenes inside the Wankhede as he clubbed his first ball over square leg to drag MI from the brink and into the last four.

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