Beyond the big innings, there were several brief flurries that proved instrumental in victory for various franchises across the last six weeks of IPL 2017, which spanned 60 matches and threw up many close wins. Here are ten of the best cameos from the tournament...
NEW DELHI: Beyond the big innings, there were several brief flurries that proved instrumental in victory for various franchises across the last six weeks of IPL 2017, which spanned 60 matches and threw up many close wins.
This could be the defining cameo of the tournament. Walking in with Delhi Daredevils at 166/4 with ten deliveries left, the South African allrounder set a new IPL record with a jaw-dropping batting display in Pune, smacking 38 from just nine balls. Of those nine balls, seven were either fours or sixes. Adam Zampa conceded 22 in the penultimate over and Morris' three sixes came off Ben Stokes in the 20th over. This stinging assault helped Daredevils score 76 from the last 24 balls and their first total in excess of 200 in five years. Sanju Samson was Man of the Match for his maiden hundred in T20s, but subtract Morris' incredible hitting and Delhi would have been defending in the vicinity of 185 instead of 205.
Off Hardik's boundary-fueled cameos - and he had several - this was the most impactful for it came at the back end of a tense chase and proved the difference between victory and defeat. The situation when he strode out was thus: Mumbai Indians needed 59 from 23 balls, with only the tail to follow. Hardik was in a hurry and helped take 19 off the 18th over, which meant the equation was 30 off 12. Nitish Rana smacked Ankit Rajpoot for six and four before he was out for 50 off the third ball of the penultimate over, but Hardik's second six followed by a single brought it down 11 from six balls. Two leg-byes and two fours sealed the deal with one ball left.
The other Pandya, also an allrounder, also made some clutch performances and this one was special. Chasing 159, Mumbai huffed and puffed their way to a four-wicket win in the 19th over, which needed Krunal's furious innings to avert defeat. The dismissal of Kieron Pollard in the 14th over meant Mumbai's asking rate was 48 from 38 balls, on a surface where dew had a big say. Still, the chase needed to be completed and a wicket could have exposed the tail. Krunal settled nerves by heaving Rashid Khan for six and then swatting Ashish Nehra for ten runs in two balls. In the 17th over, he slapped Ben Cutting for a six and two fours, leaving the equation at 10 from 18 balls. He was out next ball, having changed the tone of Mumbai's chase.
The Bengal captain was Pune's secret weapon down the order, repeatedly striking crucial blows in hugely valuable cameos - and all at superb strike-rates. Against RCB, his 11-ball 27 (strike-rate 245.45 on a slow track) from the No 7 spot proved the exact margin of victory, and Tiwary hitting Shane Watson for three fours and a six in the 19th over was pivotal.
Starring in KXIP's first away win was the allrounder Axar, whose two wickets were followed by a pivotal 17-ball 34 at the death which, when you consider the winning margin was 26 runs, was virtually the game in the bag. Promoted above Wriddhiman Saha for a reason, the left-hander smashed Dwayne Smith for a four and two sixes in the 19th over, helping the total to 188/7. In the final picture, his innings went a long way in helping KXIP beat a strong Gujarat Lions side.
David Warner's assessment of the situation and more importantly the sluggish surface at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium proved decisive for SRH in this win - he batted through the innings for 74 off 54 balls - but he needed support. And that came from Naman Ojha, in his first significant contribution of the season. In an innings with scores of 15, 9, 0, 12 and 2, Ojha's 34 off 20 balls was the release of aggression that SRH needed, and it allowed Warner time to reevaluate the scenario. He backed himself on a tacky surface and produced a clutch innings that put SRH on the way to a match-winning total.
With the dismissals of Chris Gayle for 77 off 38 balls and Virat Kohli for 64 off 50 on a slow Rajkot surface, the RCB innings looked to be running out of steam and with it, a total in excess of 200 suddenly looked difficult. When Jadhav strode out at the fall of Kohli, RCB were 159/2 in 15.5 overs. After 18 overs, they were 178/2. Then 35 runs were scored in the last two overs, with Jadhav hitting four fours and two sixes, including 17 off the final over bowled by Ravindra Jadeja who was left to nurse his worst T20 figures of 4-0-57-0. The result was the highest score of the season, and the margin of victory (21 runs) owed largely to Jadhav as RCB lifted themselves from the bottom of the IPL points table.
Not for the first time during his time with KXIP, Axar's ability to clear the infield proved decisive. On a slow surface where the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli struggled for fluency, Axar larruped 38 off 17 balls at a strike-rate of 223.52. This exhibition of power hitting lifted KXIP from 78/5 in the 14th over to 138/7, with 19 runs coming in the final over. Subtract that cameo - as well as his three overs later in RCB's innings - and KXIP would have surely lost.