RR skipper Sanju Samson in action in IPL 2021
The IPL 2021 league phase has come to an end, with four teams – Delhi Capitals (DC), Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) making it to the playoffs. Will we have a first-time winner in RCB or DC or will the might of CSK be too much to handle for the rest? Also, don’t count out KKR to lift their third IPL trophy after a seven-year wait.
Ahead of the playoffs, let’s revisit some of the best batting performances in the league phase of IPL 2021. Spread across two countries and over four months, the ongoing IPL season has produced several scintillating performances with the willow. While the second half in the UAE has been dominated by the bowlers, the first phase belonged to the batters.
So without further ado, here are the top five batting performances in the league phase of IPL 2021.
#5 Ravindra Jadeja 62*(28) – CSK vs RCB in Mumbai
Jadeja the Finisher has been Impeccable this IPL
Ravindra Jadeja’s 62* against RCB was a masterclass in finishing an innings with a bang. While smashing 36 runs in the last over of the innings bowled by Harshal Patel grabbed the headlines, the way the southpaw paced his knock was truly exceptional. Walking into bat when CSK were 111-3 in 13.5 overs, Jadeja scored 62 out of the 80 runs Chennai scored since, while facing 28 of the 37 balls available.
Jadeja started in an unremarkable fashion, scoring 26 off 21 deliveries at the end of the 19th over. A last-over onslaught, often considered synonymous with his batting partner MS Dhoni, ensued as the all-rounder took a liking to Harshal Patel’s gentle medium pacers.
The first four balls, including a no-ball, were deposited into the stands for sixes. He was dropped in the fourth ball before smashing a boundary and a six off the last two deliveries. Jadeja smacked 37 in the last over as he finished at 62* off just 28 balls.
CSK, meanwhile, put up 191 on the board and won the match in Mumbai by a comfortable margin of 69 runs. Jadeja was adjudged the Player of the Match for his fantastic knock and returning with figures of 3/13 with the ball.
#4 Kieron Pollard – 87*(34) MI vs CSK in Delhi
Kieron Pollard – The name is Enough
As former Indian batter Ajay Jadeja famously said:
“When the game comes down to sixes, you can’t beat Kieron Pollard”.
It was a monumental innings from the Mumbai Indians (MI) superstar, punctuating what was already a match of the highest quality. CSK had posted 218/4 while batting first, with Ambati Rayudu scoring 72 off just 27 balls.
At the halfway mark of the second innings, MI were 81/3, with Pollard just having come to bat. The equation read 136 more required to win from just 60 balls. CSK were on a five-match winning streak and it would have been unwise to bet against them.
Pollard, though, had other ideas. In the company of Krunal Pandya, the West Indies all-rounder instigated a calculated assault over the next 10 overs. He smashed a total of eight sixes and six fours during the course of his knock. MI needed 16 runs in the last over to pull off an improbable victory and Pollard duly delivered.
An all-time great T20 innings from one of the greatest T20 players. Take a bow, Kieron Pollard.
#3 Ruturaj Gaikwad 88*(58) – CSK vs MI in Dubai
Ruturaj Gaikwad – The Saviour for CSK
In the second meeting between CSK and MI in IPL 2021, it was an upcoming T20 star who stole the show. The second leg of the IPL started with CSK taking on MI. It looked like the match would be a dud as CSK were effectively down to effectively 24-5 in six overs, with Ambati Rayudu being retired hurt.
But Ruturaj Gaikwad batted through the storm and was on 15* off 16 balls at the end of the powerplay overs. He bid his time until the 11th over before beginning his onslaught. The right-hander played some outrageous shots over the next nine overs and no MI bowlers were spared. Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard were all treated with disdain as Gaikwad upped the ante to help take CSK to a respectable total of 156/6.
His last-ball six off Bumrah was the best of the lot – a sweep over square leg for a six against one of the deadliest T20 bowlers in the world.
Ruturaj Gaikwad played one of the innings of the season and CSK ended up winning the match by a comfortable margin of 20 runs.
#2 Sanju Samson 119(63) – RR vs PBKS in Mumbai
An Innings that deserved a Win
It’s the only innings on this list that came in a losing cause, but what a knock it was. Punjab Kings (PBKS) set the Rajasthan Royals (RR) a target of 222. Sanju Samson walked into bat on the third ball of the Royals’ innings and was dismissed on the last ball. He almost took his team home, falling just four runs short.
Sanju Samson ensured that the Royals were always in line for the chase as he consistently hit fours and sixes. In the company of Jos Buttler, Riyan Parag and Shivam Dube, the RR skipper kept his team’s hopes alive.
His innings was punctuated with 12 fours and seven sixes, each more gorgeous than the one before. With 13 needed off the last over, the equation came down to five off two. Samson then famously turned down a single on offer, trusting himself to hit a last-ball six, with Chris Morris batting at the other end.
As fate would have it, he holed out at deep cover trying to hit that match-winning six. Although Samson’s effort came in a losing cause, it was truly an exceptional knock, one of the best innings in IPL 2021.
#1 Prithvi Shaw 82(41) – DC vs KKR in Ahmedabad
Prithvi Shaw – A superstar in the making
Is it possible to wrap up a 155-run chase in just 16 overs? Yes, Prithvi Shaw made that happen. From a blistering first over when he hit six successive boundaries to give the chase a remarkable start – to audacious sixes over mid-wicket off Sunil Narine’s bowling – Shaw showed off the entire range of shots he had on offer.
Shaw was a man on a mission even before the IPL had started. Having not been included in the Indian team setup over the past few months, owing to injuries and a lack of form, he had quite a bit to prove.
His knock of 82 off 41 balls immensely helped his cause. It didn’t just kickstart DC’s campaign and give them a net run rate (NRR) boost, it also helped raise Shaw’s stocks once again.
He’s still just 21, so expect big things from the right-hander in the future.