Always looked at as a cricketer who was destined for the big moments, Albie Morkel was perhaps the most tantalizing property in world cricket ever since debuting in the mid-2000s, an age he was perfectly built for. With the game seeing the most revolutionary change it ever saw in form of the advent of T20s, it did not serve just as an additional format, it had major implications on the other two formats as well.
Teams began looking for players with dynamic utility, someone who could win the games for them plying his trade from any position, be it an opening bowler, a pinch-hitter at the helm of the batting order, a lower order slogger or someone to deliver the goods of searing cramping yorkers or slower balls laden with deception at a time when the opposing batsmen looked to go bonkers.
Everyone needed the X-factor in their side. MS Dhoni had Albie in his side and the skipper's shrewd employment of him became synonymous with the glory streak of Chennai Super Kings in the first six seasons before the emergence of Dwayne Bravo meant that they had to let go of him. Regardless, Morkel had many a moment of individual brilliance, but the one that will stand tall for years is when he won CSK a match from a seemingly impossible situation in 2012.
Batting first, RCB got to 8/205 in their allotted quota, riding on the back of a brutal 65 by Chris Gayle. Morkel was the lone standout bowler for most of the innings with figures of 3-0-20-1 at a time when Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, and Virat Kohli were going after everything. Set to chase what would then have been the second highest chase in the history of the IPL, CSK never looked like being able to get over the line despite all the top order sans Murali Vijay rallying around Faf du Plessis (71 off 46) with strike rates north of 150.
With two overs to go and a newbie in Albie Morkel with a struggling Bravo at the crease, it all looked over and nobody gave CSK a chance of gunning down the improbable 43 needed off the last two overs.
But then, Morkel in sheer moments of pure hysteria, played perhaps one of the best cameos in the format. Here is a ball by ball throwback to Morkel's moment at the summit.10
18.1 43 needed off 12
Full, outside off stump, Kohli who has been unexpectedly asked to bowl the penultimate over, starts well but Morkel's quick slash means that a thick inside edge beats wicket-keeper AB de Villiers to give CSK a much-needed boundary to start the over.
French cut, not the most attractive of ways to start your innings, but Morkel's might into that shot got him four. He jogs down the wicket casually to pump fists with Bravo. With the required run rate still well above 18 runs an over, even Morkel might not have given his team a chance but he did the more important thing and that was to back himself.