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IPL 9: Winners... in a lost cause!

By Bikash Mohapatra
Last updated on: May 10, 2016 23:50 IST
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And almost all these incredible performances came against one team -- the Gujarat Lions.

Twenty20 cricket is about being on the money consistently for 40 overs and seizing the available opportunities.

But there are times when even the best effort is actually not good enough.

That these performances, so near and yet so far, eventually end up in a losing cause makes fans both empathise and sympathize with the player/team.

Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff.com takes a look at some superlative individual efforts that probably deserved a better end result. That newcomers Gujarat Lions have been the beneficiary on most of the occasions mentioned is mere coincidence.

Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers Bangalore

IMAGE: Virat Kohli dons the orange cap. All Photographs: BCCI

Virat Kohli is in prime form this season, leading the race for the Orange Cap.

But the same can't be said about the team he is captaining.

Rooted at the bottom half of the table, and plagued with bowling issues, should Royal Challengers Bangalore fail to make it to the knockout stages, it won't come across as a surprise.

The RCB bowlers have consistently ensured that their skipper's efforts come to naught.

Virat's 100 not out, against the Gujarat Lions, was his first T20 career century. It was certainly a special moment for one of the most consistent batsmen of this generation.

The 63-ball effort, inclusive of 11 hits to the fence and one over it, as also his third wicket stand of 121 (off just 74 balls) with Lokesh Rahul (51 not out) helped RCB post a formidable 180/2.

A combination of wayward bowling and sizeable contributions from Brendon McCullum (42), Dwayne Smith (32), Suresh Raina (28) and Dinesh Karthik (50 not out) ensured the Gujarat Lions eased home without breaking a sweat.

Virat was named the player of the match -- a rarity for one from the losing side..

While scoring his second IPL (and T20) century -- 108 against the Rising Pune Supergiants -- Virat took upon himself the responsibility of finishing the job. In this case shall we say, once beaten, twice shy.

Mitchell McClenaghan, Mumbai Indians

IMAGE: Mitchell McClenaghan celebrates a wicket.

One of Mumbai Indians' best performers in Season 8, Mitch McClenaghan has carried forward that form into this season.

With 14 wickets so far, the Kiwi is very much in the race for the Purple Cap, having already won it at different stages.

His best effort though came in a lost cause.

With Mumbai managing only 143/8, the Gujara Lions were easing to their target.

Then McClenaghan, who had Gujarat Skipper Suresh Raina (27) caught behind in his opening spell, returned to bowl the 17th over. A slower delivery ensured Akshdeep Nath (12) hit straight to Hardik Pandya at mid-on.

And in his final over, the penultimate of the Gujarat innings, McClenaghan struck twice, having both James Faulkner (7) and Praveen Kumar (0) out caught behind. This while giving away just 2 runs. He finished with 4/21.

Gujarat required 11 off the final over. Aaron Finch (67 not out) ensured a 3 wicket victory with a boundary off the last ball.

Chris Morris, Delhi Daredevils)

IMAGE: Chris Morris celebrates his half century.

A herculean effort ran out of steam because of the nature of the task.

A 112 run (off 64 balls) opening wicket stand between Brendon McCullum (60) and Dwayne Smith (53) helped the Gujarat Lions to 172/6 against the Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozshah Kotla.

The visitors would have scored more runs had it not been for Chris Morris (2/35) who claimed the vital wickets of McCullum and captain Suresh Raina (2).

A brilliant opening spell by Dhawal Kulkarni (3/19) reduced Delhi to 57/4 in the 11th over. In walked Morris.

An unbeaten 82 (32 balls) that included 4 boundaries and 8 sixes and an 87-run stand for the 5th wicket with J P Duminy (48) raised hopes of an unlikely victory.

Praveen Kumar bowled a good penultimate over, giving away just 4 runs. Delhi needed 14 off the last over, bowled by Dwayne Bravo. They managed 12.

Gujarat won by a run, but Morris was the player of the match.

For the record, his 17-ball 50 is the fastest of this edition.

Steve Smith, Rising Pune Supergiants

IMAGE: Steven Smith, one of the world's best batsmen.

An injury cut short his IPL season, but Steve Smith was expectedly a key figure in the Rising Pune Supergiants dressing room till he bowed out.

He averaged 45 (strike rate 153) in the 8 games he played. Pune have the same bowling issues that afflict Bangalore. More often than not, their batsmen's efforts come to naught.

Such was the case when it came to Smith's first century in the T20 format.

The 26 year old's 101, which included 8 boundaries and 5 sixes, against the Gujarat Lions came off just 54 balls. He was involved in a vital 111 run (67 balls) partnership for the 2nd wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (53), helping Pune to a formidable 196/7.

Again, Gujarat's top order -- Dwayne Smith (63), Brendon McCullum (43), Suresh Raina (34) and Dinesh Karthik (33) -- made important contributions during the chase.

Despite losing 4 wickets in the last 2 overs of the innings, birthday boy James Faulkner (9 not out) ensured Gujarat scraped through off the last ball.

Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan, Kolkata Knight Riders

IMAGE: Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan during the IPL game against the Gujarat Lions

Two of the most gifted, yet inconsistent, players -- Shakib and Yusuf -- returned to form at the same time, but fans at the Eden Gardens were eventually left disappointed.

Reckless batting by KKR's top order, along with some good bowling by Praveen Kumar (2/19), reduced Kolkata to 28/4 after the powerplay (6 overs).

Shakib (66 not out off 49) and Yusuf (63 not out off 41) added 134 (off 85 balls) in a record 5th wicket stand that propelled KKR to a respectable 158/4.

Gujarat's formidable top four avoided the mistakes committed by their Kolkata counterparts to ensure their side posted a memorable away win with 2 overs to spare.

Adam Zampa, Rising Pune Supergiants

IMAGE: Adam Zampa of Rising Pune Supergiants during the IPL match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Vizag. Photograph: BCCI.

Adam Zampa got his chance very late. However, his impact was immediate.

- Scorecard 

Having picked of a couple of wickets in his first match - against the Royal Challengers Bangalore - the 24-year-old was even more impressive in his second outing, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Vizag.

Zampa picked up six for 19 - the second best figures in the IPL, after Sohail Tanvir's six for 14 for Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural edition - as Pune restricted Hyderabad to a measly 137 for eight. 

However, the Pune batsmen failed to build on Zampa's impressive effort, allowing the visitors to sneak out with a four-run win. 

Zampa, nonetheless, was awarded the player of the match, the third instance in this IPL - after Kohli and Morris - when a player from the losing side had been recognised for his stellar effort.

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Bikash Mohapatra / Rediff.com

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