The Indian Premier League (IPL) season 11 has reached its midway stage. The matches in the tournament have been exciting and thrilling so far. We have seen many last over finishes and teams winning with one wicket in hand or on the last ball of the match.
With all of the teams having played atleast 6 games so far, the points table sees Chennai Super Kings at the top of the rung and Mumbai Indians at the last position. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab are on no.2 and no.3 respectively.
IPL 2018 has seen an increase in batting performances with players playing some incredible innings from the onset. Also, the number of sixes being hit in the tournament has gone through the roof, with many batsmen hitting 10 or more sixes in their respective innings.
At the midpoint of the tournament, COC looks at the 7 best innings played in the tournament so far.
(All the stats updated till 27 April 2018)
MS DHONI (CSK) – 70* vs. RCB
MS Dhoni was under pressure after a lean T20I series with the bat against South Africa. Even in the few initial matches in the IPL 2018, MS Dhoni’s bat was quiet, but when it came to the time when his team needed him the most, MS Dhoni’s bat spoke.
RCB had batted first and scored 205 runs on the back of the fifties from Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers. RCB bowlers had also reduced CSK to 74/4 in the 9th over. With the requirement of quick runs mounting on an under pressure Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni joined him and the two went on to add 101 runs in the next 9 overs. After Rayudu got out for 82 in the 18th over, CSK still required 31 runs to win.
That’s where MS Dhoni’s coolness and big hitting came through as he scored the runs with minimum fuss, making 70* in 34 balls with 7 sixes and 1 four. He even hit Corey Anderson for a six to win the match.
His innings showed that the spark was still there with MS Dhoni and he could turn it on whenever he wanted.
SHREYAS IYER (DD) – 93* vs. KKR
Shreyas Iyer took over a Delhi Daredevils team that had lost 5 of its six matches in IPL 2018. Distraught with the result and his own batting form, Gautam Gambhir stepped down from the leadership and Iyer led DD against KKR.
Deciding to lead from the front, Iyer slammed a brilliant 93* in 40 balls with 10 sixes and 3 fours. With 62 from Shaw and quick 33 from Munro, Iyer built upon that opening partnership to take DD to 219/4 in 20 overs. He took apart every KKR bowler and slammed Shivam Mavi for 29 runs in the 20th over.
His 93* is the highest score for debutant captain in IPL history and an innings that has written Iyer’s name in gold in annals of the tournament.
AMBATI RAYUDU (CSK) – 82 vs. RCB
Ambati Rayudu has been a revelation as an opener for Chennai Super Kings. The former MI batsman has become the owner of the Orange Cap for the most runs in the tournament so far.
Chasing 205 runs made by RCB, CSK needed a good start, when the RCB bowling reduced CSK to 74/4, with Watson, Raina, Billings, and Jadeja dismissed for the nominal score. However, with MS Dhoni hitting some big sixes, Rayudu continued to rotate strike, hitting the big shots in the middle.
Rayudu was ultimately dismissed for 82 off 53 balls with 8 sixes and 3 fours to his name and adding 101 runs with Dhoni. His innings enabled Dhoni to launch a scathing attack from the other hand and win the match for CSK.
AB DE VILLIERS (RCB) - 90* vs. DD
Royal Challengers Bangalore met Delhi Daredevils in Bengaluru for a thrilling match. Batting first, DD lost their openers for single-digit scores, but Pant’s 85 and Iyer’s 53 took the visiting team to 174/5 in 20 overs.
RCB had to chase 175 in 20 overs and found themselves in a quandary with Kohli gone for 30 and De Kock went for 18. However, it was the Mr. 360 AB de Villiers, who scored a blazing 90* in 39 balls with 5 sixes and 10 fours, and almost single-handedly won the game for RCB.
De Villiers proved why he is considered as one of the premier batsmen in the IPL since his debut and why he was retained by his franchise.
SANJU SAMSON (RR) - 92* vs. RCB
Rajasthan Royals were hosted by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the 11th match of IPL 2018. RR batted first and with Rahane giving a flying start with 36 off 20 balls, the team was looking for a very good total in the end.
However, RR was taken to that total by the young Sanju Samson, who scored brilliantly crafted 92* in 45 balls with 10 sixes and 2 fours. Samson hit every RCB bowler over the boundary and was ruthless in the death overs. Umesh Yadav bore the brunt of this assault, going for 59 runs in 4 overs.
Samson has so far scored 239 runs in 6 matches with a strike rate of 150.31 and average of 47.80 and is looking good for many more runs in the coming matches.
CHRIS GAYLE (KXIP) – 104* vs. SRH
Chris Gayle was picked last in the IPL 2018 auction, after going unsold twice. KXIP picked Gayle on the advice of its mentor Virender Sehwag, who had mentioned that if Gayle won them even two games, their investment would be justified.
Gayle sat out the first two games of KXIP and made 63* on his debut for the KXIP against CSK. However, his best innings came against SRH; as he single-handedly destroyed the best bowling attack of this tournament, in SRH.
Gayle scored his sixth IPL century and his 21st in the T20 format. His 104* in 63 balls with 11 sixes and 1 four took KXIP to 193/3. KXIP won the match by 15 runs and Gayle announced that though people thought that he was done with cricket, he still has a lot of destruction left in him.
SHANE WATSON (CSK) – 106 vs. RR
Shane Watson saw a leash of life given to him when he was picked up by Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2018 auction after his previous franchise RCB decided not to retain him. Watson had mentioned that he wanted to open the innings and CSK granted his wish and so far Watson has scored 191 runs in 6 matches for them with a strike rate of 161.86.
However, 106 runs of those 191 runs came in one innings against his former franchise Rajasthan Royals, for whom Watson served from 2008-2015. Watson took almost every RR bowler to the cleaners at the MCA stadium in Pune and scored 106 from 57 balls with 6 sixes and 9 fours and with 46 from Raina, took CSK to 204/5 in 20 overs.
Watson showed that though he had retired from cricket two years ago, he still has a lot to give to the game and T20 cricket is the mode of destruction he has adopted.