Brilliant individual performances in IPL knockout games that don't fade away
Sport is not easy. Even the masters of the game, who are incredibly deft with their skills, fail when they are presented with terribly tough situations that are bursting to the seams with pressure. A knockout game in a high-profile tournament is exactly that kind of a situation; the tension and the drama in these contests can sometimes go through the roof.
Of course, some rare players have a tendency to excel in these games. Lendl Simmons scored a responsible knock to help Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier of the current IPL season, in the process booking Mumbai’s ticket to the final directly. On the other hand, Suresh Raina, who is usually a very reliable big-match player, failed to come to the party for once.
Over the years, there have been a few memorable contributions from players who put their hand up on the big day. Those performances are special not just in terms of their statistical value but also for the intent displayed when the stakes were the highest. Such moments of brilliance remain etched in our memory and simply don’t fade away, right along the lines of the Axe Signature range.
Here, we take a look at the four most memorable individual performances in IPL knockout games:
Virender Sehwag, Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings, 2014 2nd Qualifier
Kings XI Punjab had an amazing 2014 season, but rather surprisingly they lost in the first qualifier to Kolkata Knight Riders. They still had a second shot at the finals, as they took on Chennai Super Kings at Wankhede Stadium for the second qualifier. KXIP had won both their league games against CSK, with Glenn Maxwell proving to be the difference-maker each time, and the time seemed ripe for a revenge performance by Dhoni’s men.
Not according to Virender Sehwag though. Having struggled for form much of the season, Sehwag chose the biggest occasion to make the biggest statement.
The Nawab of Najafgarh didn’t get a lot of strike in the first three overs, but he eventually warmed up with two fours off Ishwar Pandey and three consecutive fours off Ashish Nehra to get going. He added 110 for the first wicket with Manan Vohra, and brought up his own fifty in just 21 balls. From then on, he hit a six almost every over, with two coming in consecutive deliveries off Ashish Nehra in the 12th.
Sehwag brought up his second IPL century in the 16th over, which was studded with 11 fours and six sixes. He was finally caught at cover for a blistering 122 off just 58 balls, with 96 runs coming off boundaries. KXIP managed 226 and won the game comfortably, and the entire world was once again reminded of Sehwag’s ability to single-handedly change the complexion of a game.
Murali Vijay, Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Daredevils, 2012 2nd Qualifier
Murali Vijay narrowly missed out on a century in the IPL 2011 final, scoring 95 in 52 balls against RCB. But he wasn’t about to miss out on the chance the next year.
In 2012, CSK won the eliminator to earn a clash against Delhi Daredevils in the second qualifier. And Vijay ensured that there would be little trouble for the Men in Yellow at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai. He scored a swashbuckling 113 in just 58 balls with 15 fours and four sixes to take CSK to an imposing total of 222, which was good enough to defeat DD by a whopping 86 runs.
For CSK, the next highest score was Dwayne Bravo’s 33 – that’s how much Vijay dominated the proceedings. He added 68 for the opening wicket with Michael Hussey and followed that up with a 69-run partnership with Suresh Raina. Vijay’s biggest victim was Virender Sehwag, who was hammered for two sixes and two fours in the 11th over.
Plenty of bowlers went for multiple fours in their overs, making Vijay’s knock one of the most memorable ones in IPL knockout history.