The ten best knocks of IPL 6
The Indian Premier League has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons over the last few days. But apart from the spot-fixing controversy there were many moments that made the T20 tournament a memorable spectacle for cricket fans.
Chris Gayle underlined his batting prowess with a 30-ball hundred while South African youngster David Miller played a blinder, scoring a match-winning 101 from 38 balls.
Suresh Raina finally got his first IPL century before narrowly coming close to hitting another one as he finished 99 not out.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni also underlined his status as the best finisher in world cricket with another sparking innings, while Mike Hussey was consistent as ever.
Ahead of the play-offs, Harish Kotian takes a look at the top 10 innings of this year's IPL:
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David Miller achieved instant stardom after his magical innings of 101 from 38 balls that helped Kings XI Punjab snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore, in Mohali, on May 6, 2013.
When Miller walked out to bat, Punjab were struggling at 51 for four after 7.4 overs after being set a huge 191 for victory.
David Hussey's dismissal to Murali Kartik, after scoring 13, left them further crippled and they were reeling at 68 for four at the halfway stage, with 123 needed from 10 overs for victory.
Miller took time to get going before he launched an unbelievable assault on the RCB bowlers, all of whom have played international cricket.
He started by hitting Vinay Kumar for two fours and a six before hammering RP Singh for two sixes and three fours. He raced to his fifty from 24 balls while his next 50 came from just 14 balls.
In fact, RCB captain Virat Kohli dropped a high catch off Miller when was on 41 and it be proved to be very crucial in the final analysis.
Miller gave Chris Gayle a dose of his own medicine, hitting him for two sixes and two fours in the 18th over. The South African ended the match in some style -- a huge straight six that brought up his century and also victory, with two overs to spare.
Miller's knock is special because it came when Punjab were under tremendous pressure and had to content with quality bowlers. Without doubt, it has to be ranked a tad higher than Gayle's 30-ball hundred.
Image: David Miller
Gayle storm hits Pune
Chris Gayle scripted history when he scored the fastest century in Twenty20 cricket en route to his astonishing innings of 175, the highest ever in the shortest format of the game.
The West Indies ace proved unstoppable as he shred the hapless Pune Warriors' bowling to pieces in front of his beloved home crowd at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
The tall Jamaican began his devastation trail with five boundaries off Ishwar Pandey in the second over of the innings. Mitchell Marsh went for 28 runs in the fifth over, hit for four sixes and a four, that saw Gayle bring up his fifty from just 17 balls.
Aaron Finch tried some part-time spin but even he was smashed for four sixes and a four for 29 runs in the over.
He brought up his hundred in his trademark style, slamming a full delivery from Ashok Dinda for a six, off just 37 balls.
Gayle carried his bat through the innings to finish on a mammoth 175 from just 66 balls, laced with 13 fours and 17 sixes, the most hit by a batsman in an innings in T20 cricket.
In reply, Pune were bundled out for 133 and lost by a huge margin of 130 runs.
Image: Chris Gayle
Veteran Hussey trumps Watson's ton
It's rare to see a batsman score a century and his team end up on the losing side in T20s.
Shane Watson had to swallow a bitter pill after he scored 101 off 61 balls. His effort was undone by a poor showing by his Rajasthan Royals bowlers as Chennai Super Kings chased down 186 with a delivery to spare.
Watson looked in his element, as he started the innings with a boundary off Mohit Sharma and punished him again in his next over. The Australian raced to his half-century from 29 balls, hitting five fours and three sixes, before he slowed down in the middle overs.
He took control in the end overs, hitting Ravindra Jadeja for two straight sixes in the 17th over before registering the first century of IPL 6 in the next over.
Veteran Michael Hussey, however, trumped Watson's effort with a magical innings of 88 from 51 balls in Chennai Super Kings' reply. The left-hander showed he had not lost any of his batting prowess despite retiring from international cricket last year. Hussey went on the attack right from the start as Chennai brought up their 100 in the 11th over to stay in touch with the asking rate.
Hussey raised his half-century from 31 balls, and continued the assault on the Rajasthan bowlers in the middle overs. He was unlucky to be run out on 88 after a misunderstanding with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni but by then he put Chennai in pole position to steal an unlikely victory.
Image: Mike Hussey (left) and Shane Watson
Raina hits maiden IPL ton
Suresh Raina has never missed an IPL match in the last six seasons and is the highest run-getter over the six seasons of the tournament with 2720 runs in 97 matches.
However, one thing missing from his exploits was an IPL hundred. The Chennai left-hander attained that landmark against Kings XI Punjab with a blazing innings of 100 from 53 balls, which included seven fours and six sixes.
Raina walked in to bat in the fourth over, after the dismissal of Wriddhiman Saha for 18. He got off the mark with a boundary off David Hussey and there was no looking back after that. He ensured runs kept coming at a good rate in the middle overs before cutting loose in the final run.
Manpreet Gony was taken to the cleaners as Raina slammed him two straight sixes, in the 16th over. R Satish also came under the hammer as the left-hander hit him for back-to-back fours before launching into Praveen Kumar down the ground for his fifth six.
He brought up his century in some style, lofting the ball back over the bowler's head for a six. His hundred came from 51 balls.
A week later, Raina narrowly missed a century as he blazed 99 not out from 52 balls to lift Chennai to a huge 223 for three in their 20 overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
He and Mike Hussey put on 133 runs from 72 balls for the second wicket as they hammered the Hyderabad bowlers to all parts of the stadium.
Image: Suresh Raina
Sehwag's lone moment of joy
There is no doubt that Virender Sehwag and Delhi Daredevils would like to forget this year's IPL in a hurry.
While Delhi finished at the bottom with just three wins from 16 games, Sehwag tallied a lowly 295 runs from 13 matches, at an average of 24.58.
His lone half-century came against Mumbai Indians. He blasted 95 from 57 balls to give Delhi an easy nine-wicket victory, with three overs to spare.
It was one of those rare days in the IPL when Sehwag got going from the start and hit boundaries at will. He slammed 13 fours and two sixes to delight his home fans at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi.
He was lucky, though, in that knock as he was dropped on two by the fielder at short fine leg. Mumbai were made to pay big time for that lapse.
Jasprit Bumrah, who dropped that catch, was hit for two fours and a six, in the next over followed by another couple of fours against Munaf Patel.
Even Lasith Malinga took some punishment as Sehwag brought up his fifty from 31 balls before ending the match with a four.
Image: Virender Sehwag
Kohli's capital knock
Royal Challengers Bangalore depended heavily on Gayle to get them off to a quick start and lay the foundation for a huge total. But there were times when he failed to deliver. Virat Kohli came to the fore on one such occasion, against Delhi Daredevils, in Delhi.
Irfan Pathan bowled Gayle for four in the second over of the innings, but Kohli stepped in and took the Delhi bowlers apart in a superb exhibition of attacking batting.
After getting off the mark with a boundary, courtesy a stylish flick through midwicket off Morne Morkel, Kohli went berserk. He was also helped along the way as Sehwag dropped him at short fine leg.
In the closing overs, however, he was relentless. He hit Morkel for two fours in the 17th over before slamming Umesh Yadav for two sixes and a four off successive deliveries in the next.
He took a liking to Yadav, hitting him for two sixes and two fours in his next over before he was run-out off the final delivery for 99, attempting an impossible second run.
He finished one run short of a well-deserved century, having hit 10 fours and four sixes in his 58-ball knock.
Image: Virat Kohli
Captaincy no burden for Rohit
Rohit Sharma was named captain of Mumbai Indians this season after regular skipper Ricky Ponting opted to drop himself following his struggle with the bat in the first few matches of the tournament.
By the halfway stage of the tournament, he had left many surprised with the way he handled the additional burden of captaincy. His batting rose a few notches higher and his leadership skills impressed.
One of his many stellar knocks was the 79 against Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede stadium.
Mumbai's policy of keeping wickets in hand in the final overs worked wonders as the batsman went on an all-out attack. He heaved Manpreet Gony over midwicket for his 100th six in the IPL, before hitting Azhar Mahmood for a four and a six in the next over.
Captain David Hussey took a surprise gamble by bringing himself to bowl the final over and Rohit needed no second invitation as he hit him for three sixes and two fours, scoring 27 runs from the over.
That proved a match-turning moment in the ultimate analysis as Mumbai sneaked home by four runs in a thrilling finish.
Image: Rohit Sharma
Karthik hoists Mumbai to huge total
Dinesh Karthik walked in to bat with Mumbai Indians having lost both their openers in the first two overs, with just a single on the board.
There was no stopping the Tamil Nadu Ranji wicketkeeper-batsman, who started with a flurry of boundaries en route to a superlative knock of 86 from 48 balls, inclusive of 14 fours and two sixes.
Ashish Nehra was hit for a six and two fours in the sixth over before Yadav was slammed for three boundaries by in the ninth.
Karthik brought up his fifty from 29 balls and continued the assault, putting on 131 runs from 79 balls for the third wicket with Rohit Sharma, who made 74 from 50 balls, as the duo lifted Mumbai to a huge 209 for five.
Image: Dinesh Karthik
Mahmood helps Punjab stun Mumbai
Azhar Mahmood, 39, showed why he is still one of most sought after players in T20 cricket. Punjab were reeling at six for two in the third over when Mahmood walked out to bat; by the time he finished he had propelled his team to a mighty 183 for six.
Shaun Marsh (63 from 47 balls) provided the momentum in the early overs before Mahmood take charge in the second half of the innings.
He went after Mumbai's best bowler, Lasith Malinga, whom he hit for a six and three fours, to throw all their plans out of the window. Part-timer Glenn Maxwell also came in for some rough treatment and was carted for two sixes and a four in his only over as Mahmood raced to 50 from 27 balls.
Harbhajan was hit for a four and a six off successive deliveries in the 17th over before Malinga trapped Mahmood leg before wicket after a whirlwind innings of 80 from 44 balls, that included eight fours and four sixes.
Image: Azhar Mahmood
Dhoni finishes the job yet again
Is there a better finisher in cricket than Mahendra Singh Dhoni?
When he walked out to bat, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai were struggling to get the innings going and needed 84 from 10 overs for victory on a difficult pitch for batting.
Dhoni realised the need of the hour and launched a calculated assault. He took 14 balls to get his first boundary when he pulled a short ball from Darren Sammy through midwicket before lofting it back over the bowler's head for another four two balls later.
Hyderabad knew their big hope rested with pace ace Dale Steyn but Dhoni reserved some special treatment for him. He carted a length delivery over mid-on for a six and when an angry Steyn tried the short ball, the Chennai skipper pulled it high and handsome over long-on for the second six of the over.
Chennai looked be in some trouble with 28 needed from 12 deliveries, but Dhoni stayed cool and changed the script. He hit Styen for a four and six off successive deliveries.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni