Two-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders may have crashed out of the VIVO IPL 2016 but not before they made it to the playoffs for the fourth time in 9 years. While the campaign saw some great performances for KKR from the likes of skipper Gautam Gambhir and all-rounder Andre Russell, it was Yusuf Pathan who won many hearts for shouldering the burden of an underperforming middle-order. Pathan, who is often considered to be a maverick in terms of his batting, showed immense responsibility this season and rescued the team from a number of difficult situations. The most remarkable aspect of his performance was the fact that the Baroda all-rounder did all this without doing away with any of the aggressive instincts that he is known for.
Yusuf Pathan’s stats in the 2016 IPL
Pathan boasts of some highly impressive statistics this season with a tally of 361 runs in the 15 matches that Kolkata played. He ended the tournament holding an incredible average of 72.20, the most for any KKR batsman in this IPL. The right-hander was seen at his smashing best as he scored his runs at a strike-rate of just below 146 and hit 13 sixes in the tournament. Yusuf Pathan proved to be quite a match-winner for his team and won the ‘Player of the Match’ award 3 times in the 2016 IPL for his heroics with the bat.
Top performances in the 2016 IPL
Yusuf Pathan had an outstanding season with the bat for the Kolkata Knight Riders this year and here are some of his most memorable performances:
36 (27) vs Rising Pune Supergiants
Chasing 161 to win in their away match against IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants, KKR were in more than a spot of bother having lost in-form openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa early. Suryakumar Yadav steadied the ship but soon lost another partner as Shakib Al Hasan fell for just 3.
Pathan walked in next and strung together a vital 50-run partnership with Yadav that took Kolkata to within striking distance of the total. By the time he fell for an individual score of 36, the Knight Riders needed 50 to win from 34 balls and they eventually won with 3 deliveries to spare.
60* (29) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
This innings was the highlight of Yusuf Pathan’s brilliant run in the 2016 IPL and re-established his credentials as a fantastic finisher. RCB rode half-centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to post a formidable 185 on the board. Despite a good hand by Gambhir, the KKR innings was tottering at 69 for 4 when Pathan and Andre Russell came together.
With 117 required off just 59 deliveries, the two power-hitters tore apart the Bangalore bowling attack and produced a 96-run partnership in just about 7 overs to push the momentum in Kolkata’s favour. Even after Russell fell on a score of 39, Yusuf Pathan stuck to the task and steered his team to victory with a fine unbeaten 60 from just 29 balls.
63* (41) vs Gujarat Lions
The Kolkata Knight Riders got off to their worst possible start this season when they were reduced to 21 for 4 in their home encounter against newcomers Gujarat Lions thanks to a great spell from Praveen Kumar. A struggling Shakib Al Hasan was joined at the crease by Yusuf Pathan and both of them began the task of resurrecting the Knight Riders innings.
The duo displayed an excellent mix of caution and aggression in their batting as they strung together an unbeaten 5th wicket partnership of 137 runs, taking KKR to a respectable total of 158. Even though Shakib provided the fireworks towards the end, it was Pathan who gave the innings momentum after a shaky start by taking on the GL bowlers, especially the spinners. Unfortunately for him, though, the Lions took down the target with 2 overs still left.
37* (18) vs Rising Pune Supergiants
Although it came about in a rain-curtailed match, this was easily one of Pathan’s best knocks in the 2016 IPL. MS Dhoni and his men struggled to find any momentum on a slowish Eden Gardens pitch and could muster only 103 for 6 in 17.4 overs before a shower cut them short. When play resumed again, it was KKR who came in to bat needing 66 for a win in 9 overs. It may have been a perfectly gettable target but Kolkata landed in early trouble as both Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa fell in the very first over.
In walked Yusuf Pathan and proceeded to take apart the RPS bowlers, particularly Ravichandran Ashwin. He blasted the off-spinner for 22 runs in the 3rd over of the innings and reduced the target to 22 from 6 overs. Kolkata Knight Riders scored the required runs in just 5 overs and won the match by a margin of 8 wickets. It earned Pathan his second ‘Man of the Match’ award this season.
52* (34) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
It was KKR’s last league match of the season and they needed to win it in order to qualify for the playoff stage of the 2016 tournament. Put in to bat first by Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Knight Riders were struggling at 57 for 3 in the 8th over. Manish Pandey had just faced 5 balls when Yusuf Pathan came in at the fall of Gautam Gambhir’s wicket. Once again, the onus was on the Baroda all-rounder to reconstruct the innings and he did not disappoint.
What followed was an 87-run partnership between Pandey and Pathan which took the Kolkata innings to a much better situation. While the former was dismissed for 48, Yusuf went about his business without too much trouble and led KKR to a formidable total of 171. Kolkata Knight Riders were the eventual winners by 22 runs and the hard-hitting batsman received yet another ‘Man of the Match’ award for his 52 not out.