IPL: Meet the one-man armies
With the league phase over, Bikash Mohapatra takes a look at one-man shows that handed the opposition a big blow in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League.
Cricket is a team sport, they say.
However, there are instances galore when an individual has stood tall with a towering effort -- either with the ball or bat (or both) and taken his team home.
This edition of the Twenty20 extravaganza is no different.
It is fact that the four teams that have progressed to the play-offs have done so because of the collective effort of the 11 players involved.
However, there were a few matches in the competition when an individual effort outshone a team's. The reference here is to significant solo performances by a player that took the team through against all odds.
With the league phase meaning 70 out 74 matches over, we take a look at a few individual efforts that stood out, the one-man shows that handed the opposition a big blow.
Image: An IPL balloon
Malinga's fiver skittled Delhi out for a paltry 95
Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians)
It is irony that the first significant individual effort in what is largely a batsman-friendly format came from a bowler.
Lasith Malinga was one of the few players to be retained by their franchisees and he expressed his gratitude with a brilliant effort early on in the tournament against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Also read: 'I didn't know how to bowl a yorker'
The Sri Lankan quick took five for 13 to rip through the Delhi batting order and help his team dismiss their hosts for a paltry 95 (in 17.4 overs).
Mumbai Indians eased home by eight wickets.
Malinga has since led the bowler's standings and will certainly end the tournament as the highest wicket-taker, with the 'Purple Cap' on his head.
However, if there was one performance from him that stood out, it is the one mentioned above.
Image: Lasith Malinga
Two of Valthaty's efforts stood out
Paul Valthaty (Kings XI Punjab)
Paul Valthaty, playing his first season for Kings XI Punjab, was one of the biggest surprises in the tournament with 463 runs.
And it wasn't one but two of his efforts that stood out.
The first came against defending champions Chennai Super Kings, when he displayed tremendous resolve to score a spectacular 120, his 63-ball innings inclusive of 19 hits to the fence and two over it.
During the course of the innings he put on 61 runs for the opening wicket with his captain Adam Gilchrist (19) and an unbeaten 57 runs for the fifth wicket with Dinesh Karthik (21) as Punjab, chasing an improbable 189, romped home with five balls to spare in Mohali.
Valthaty followed it up with an equally impressive effort against former champions Deccan Chargers in Uppal.
The 27-year-old first took four for 29 to help Punjab restrict Deccan to 165 and then completed an all-round show by scoring a 47-ball 75, a knock that was inclusive of eight boundaries and five maximums.
En route to his match-winning knock, he put on a significant 136 runs (in just 14 overs) for the opening wicket with captain Gilchrist (61) as Punjab won by eight wickets with a whopping 14 balls to spare.
Image: Paul Valthaty
McCullum's knock upstaged Tendulkar's maiden IPL ton
Brendon McCullum (Kochi Tuskers Kerala)
His master class 158 not out for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy stadium in the first ever Indian Premier League match is still afresh in the memory of the quintessential cricket fan.
Having moved to debutants Kochi Tuskers Kerala this season, the New Zealander didn't exactly set the stage on fire. Nonetheless, there were glimpses of his abilities during the tournament.
His most significant effort with the blade, a spectacular 81 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede, helped his side score a seemingly improbable away win.
When Mumbai put on 182 batting first, few would have put their money on the Kochi outfit, down in the dumps after successive opening losses and playing away from home, making a match out of it, let alone win.
However, McCullum exploded that day, his 60-ball knock inclusive of 10 boundaries and two maximums. He put on 128 runs, in just 83 balls, with captain Mahela Jayawardene (56) to lay the foundation for the upset win.
McCullum's knock upstaged Sachin Tendulkar's maiden IPL ton (100) earlier in the day. Another rarity this!
Image: Brendon McCullum
Has single-handedly turned Bangalore's fortunes
Chris Gayle (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The West Indies player has single-handedly turned the fortunes of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Left unsold in the auctions in January, Chris Gayle came in as a replacement for Dirk Nannes when RCB was in a precarious state, having lost three of their opening five matches and a fourth being a wash-out.
And when Kolkata Knight Riders scored 171, batting first in Eden Gardens, RCB seemed destined for a fourth defeat.
It was at this stage that a 'Gayle storm' hit Eden. The former Windies captain, playing his first game this season and against his former team, hit a whirlwind 55-ball 102 not out, a knock that was inclusive of 10 hits to the fence and seven over it.
During the course of his innings he also featured in two vital partnerships, of 123 runs (in just 73 balls) with Tillekeratne Dilshan (38) for the first wicket and another 52 runs with Virat Kohli (30 not out) for the second wicket as Bangalore won with 11 balls to spare.
Gayle followed it up with a 49-ball 107 against Kings XI Punjab, a knock that included 10 boundaries and nine maximums and helped RCB notch 205 for six in their stipulated 20 overs.
The 31-year-old completed an all-round effort, with figures of three for 21, that helped restrict Punjab to a paltry 120 for nine, thereby ensuring an 85-run win.
His 44-ball 70 not out against Rajasthan in Jaipur -- that helped RCB chase 147 in 17 overs and his 12-ball 38 vs KKR in a rain-curtailed game in Bangalore were also significant efforts.
So was his unbeaten 75 against Chennai Super Kings that helped Bangalore seal top spot in the league.
Image: Chris Gayle
Ishant's spell reduced Kochi to 11 for six
Ishant Sharma (Deccan Chargers)
Another bowling effort makes its way into this list; on this occasion, an unusual, albeit significant one.
Ishant Sharma hasn't been exactly impressive in this edition and certainly not among the wickets, save one match.
Deccan Chargers seemed down and out when they were restricted to 129 by Kochi Tuskers Kerala at the Nehru stadium (Kochi).
However, Dale Steyn gave them hope by accounting for the dangerous Brendon McCullum (0) in the first over. And then Ishant took over.
In his first over, the second of the innings, the 22-year-old accounted for Parthiv Patel (0) and Raiphi Gomez (0) in successive balls and Brad Hodge (0) two balls later.
Kedar Jadhav (0) was accounted for in the first ball of his second over and the last ball of the same over witnessed the dismissal of Kochi captain Mahela Jayawardene (4).
Kochi had been reduced to 11 for six at the end of the fourth over in their own backyard.
Nobody would have expected them to recover thereafter. And they didn't, getting all out for 74.
As regards Ishant, his figures made for an impressive reading (3-0-12-5). Had it not been for those five wickets, the Delhi player wouldn't have reached double figures in the final tally he finished with 11 wickets in the tournament.
Image: Ishant Sharma
Delhi's few wins were courtesy their captain
Virender Sehwag (Delhi Daredevils)
Delhi Daredevils ended up with the wooden spoon in this edition and were the most disappointing outfit, to say the least.
The few games they did manage to win were courtesy their skipper, Virender Sehwag.
The most significant of Sehwag's innings came in an away match against Deccan Chargers.
When the Chargers put up a formidable score (175) and reduced Delhi to 25 for three in the fourth over, few expected the latter to recover.
Sehwag though had other ideas.
He scored 119 and was involved in two significant partnerships - 61 runs (in only 28 balls) for the fourth wicket with Travis Birt (4) and another 67 runs (in just 36 balls) for the fifth wicket with Irfan Pathan (12).
Sehwag's 56-ball knock, that was inclusive of 13 hits to the fence and six over it, ensured his team a comfortable four-wicket win with an over to spare.
The 32-year-old's 47-ball 80, with eight boundaries and five maximums, was another impressive effort, helping Delhi score a 38-run win over Kochi in an away tie.
Image: Virender Sehwag
The Gilly juggernaut rolled on
Adam Gilchrist (Kings XI Punjab)
Adam Gilchrist was consistent in the tournament, without being spectacular.
However, his new team, Kings XI Punjab, grossly underperformed. So much so that after nine matches, they were in a must-win situation needing to win all their five games to stand a chance of qualifying for the play-offs.
It was time for Gilchrist to step up. The 40-year-old's astute captaincy ensured his team wins in their next three matches.
However, in their penultimate game, they faced Royal Challengers Bangalore, a team that had not lost in its last seven games.
A Gilchrist master class was long overdue and it happened that day in Dharamsala, the Australian scoring a magnificent 55-ball 106 inclusive of eight boundaries and nine maximums to help Punjab to 232 for two, the highest total in this edition thus far.
En route was a record 206-run second wicket stand with Shaun Marsh (79 not out). In the process, he became only the second player (after Chris Gayle) to have scored two IPL hundreds. The Gilly juggernaut didn't stop there.
A spectacular catch off the ninth ball off Ryan Harris helped dismiss the in-form Chris Gayle (0) and derail the Bangalore chase right at the start. The visitors were 121 all out in 17 overs and Punjab won by a huge margin (111 runs).
The team from Mohali may have failed to cross the final hurdle losing their final game against Deccan Chargers but Gilchrist (383 runs in 14 matches) did enough to ensure his team owners want him back for another season.
Image: Adam Gilchrist
Watson ensured Warne a memorable farewell
Shane Watson (Rajasthan Royals)
He came into the tournament with increased expectations, having scored a mammoth 185 not out in an ODI against Bangladesh.
Shane Watson though flattered to deceive, scoring just 241 runs in his first 10 innings for Rajasthan Royals.
However, the 29-year-old reserved his best for last.
The occasion was momentous it was captain Shane Warne's last IPL match and Watson ensured his compatriot's farewell was a memorable one.
The Australian first took three for 19 in his four overs to help restrict Mumbai Indians to a modest 133 for five.
Watson then shone with the bat with a spectacular 47-ball 89 not out, a knock that was inclusive of nine hits to the fence and six over it. And his unbeaten opening stand of 134 (in just 79 balls) with Rahul Dravid (43 not out) ensured Rajasthan a comprehensive 10-wicket win at the Wankhede.
Warne later admitted that Watson had apologized to him three or four times for not being able to do the same earlier.
Image: Shane Watson