14 summers back, Brendon McCullum lit up Bengaluru with an unbeaten 73-ball 158 to announce the spectacle known as the Indian Premier League (IPL) to the world. Since that 2008 evening, the tournament has been primarily a batter-dominated fiesta.
As we inch closer to the resumption of the IPL 2021 in the UAE, let’s take a look at the most successful batting partners in crime in the tournament’s history.
#5 Chris Gayle and KL Rahul (2013-21) | Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Punjab Kings (PBKS)
1,630 runs | Ave 46.57 | 100s 4 | 50s 11
KL Rahul and Chris Gayle were a hit at the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2016. They were reunited at Punjab Kings (PBKS), formerly known as the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in 2018, where they found more success as partners and formed one of the most destructive pairs in the IPL.
It’s surprising that despite their success at the top, the duo have changed their approach. While Rahul has been more measured in his approach, Gayle has moved to no.3, where he hasn’t replicated his usual success.
Despite being two of the most valuable players in the tournament's history, neither of them have won an IPL trophy.
#4 Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa (2014-17) | Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
1,906 runs | Ave 39.7 | 100s 5 | 50s 10
Often opening the batting, and at times marshaling the middle order, the versatile pair of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa were the Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) batting spine. The unison began in 2014, when the team were struggling with the top order and Uthappa tried hard to convince the management to let him open the batting. He went on to win the Orange Cap and KKR won the IPL for the second time.
In the next four seasons, KKR qualified for the playoffs three times and once finished fifth. The duo provided the KKR fans with some of their greatest moments.
#3 Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner (2014-17) | Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)
2,357 runs | Ave 48.1 | 100s 6 | 50s 14
Fondly called the "David-Dhawan" combo, destructive left-handers continued their imperious international runs in the IPL editions too. Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner complemented each other very well.
In 2016, the duo starred for them as SRH won their maiden IPL. Warner scored 848 runs that season at 60.57, striking at 151.4. Meanwhile, Dhawan played an apt supporting role and finished with more than 500 runs.
The association lasted until 2017. Warner was banned from the IPL in 2018 after his role in the ball-tampering saga. The following season, Dhawan opted to play for his home city, the Delhi Capitals (DC).
#2 Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli (2011-17) | Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
2,787 runs | Ave 52.58 | 200s 1 | 100s 9 | 50s 12
Their IPL trophy cabinet may have been empty, but no team entertained as much as RCB. Chris Gayle, the greatest T20 cricketer alongside the ever consistent Virat Kohli, provided plenty of cherished moments. In the 2016 IPL final, the duo had the game in their clutches. Chasing 209 for victory, they were 114 in the 11th over when Gayle departed. When Kohli was dismissed, they needed just over nine an over, but RCB couldn’t get the job done.
In IPL 2012, Gayle and Kohli became only the second pair in IPL history to record a 200-run partnership. The franchise released the Jamaican before the IPL 2018 auction.
#1 Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers (2011-21) | Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
3,123 runs | Ave 43.98 | 200s 2 | 100s 10 | 50s 11
It's no surprise to see two of the finest batters of this generation in the top spot. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have entertained like no other pair ever have in T20 cricket. Having been the batting pillar for RCB for over a decade, the duo are the only pair with 10 century stands and two double-century stands.
With Virat Kohli not getting any younger and AB de Villiers in his last leg, it will only be fitting for the duo to win one IPL trophy together. The RCB are off to a good start in IPL 2021, and this season may go on to be that moment.
With AB de Villiers moving down the order, it’s a shame the duo haven’t batted together yet this season.