IPL is the most popular T20 league in the world. Every year, as the T20 extravaganza gets underway, the entire cricketing world shifts its gaze towards the IPL.
And, over its 12-year existence, the IPL has provided fans with innumerable moments to cherish. From Brendon Mccullum’s blistering 158 that set the IPL ablaze to Sohail Tanvir’s 6/14 in the inaugural edition that blew away the Chennai Super Kings, to Chris Gayle’s murderous and rollicking 175 that pulverised the Pune Warriors India.
The 2016 edition where Virat Kohli redefined the meaning of consistency and scored an ethereal 4 hundreds in one season, to the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni scoring 19 runs off the last over to take the Chennai Super Kings over the line against Kings XI Punjab, the IPL has thrown up several moments that will stay in the minds of cricket fans forever.
In this article, let us look at five of the greatest innings ever played in the history of the IPL.
#5 Virender Sehwag - 122 (58 balls)
Virender Sehwag rolled back the clock on the 30th of May 2014, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai with his audacious stroke play. In a masterclass that combined elegance and force, Sehwag dismantled the Chennai Super Kings attack on his way to a stunning 122 off just 58 balls.
Sehwag was at his brutal and belligerent best on that day. He was always seeking to dominate, like he did when he was in his prime, and smashed 12 fours and 8 sixes that just brutalised the Chennai Super Kings outfit. His knock paved the way for the Kings XI Punjab to score 226, and defeat the formidable Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2 to reach the final of the competition.
Sehwag was indeed the monarch of all that he surveyed on that day.
#4 Ab de Villiers - 129* (52 balls)
He is one man who can make unorthodox batting look beautiful. He can precisely do anything with the willow in his hand. The bowler might bowl the ball on off stump, but de Villiers will move towards the off side and whip him past mid wicket, the bowler can bowl the ball on leg stump, but de Villiers will make room and smash him over cover.
De Villiers was at his magical best against the Gujarat Lions on the 14th of May 2016. The hapless Gujarat bowlers were treated to a special show from the willow of the South African batting dynamite in the 2016 edition of the IPL. De Villiers drove, cut, pulled, swept, paddled and pulverised his way to a rollicking 129* off just 52 balls that brutalised the Gujarat Lions.
In the end, the Bangalore outfit defeated the Lions by a mammoth 144 runs in a match that saw de Villiers strike a 129-run partnership with Virat Kohli.
De Villiers has played several magical knocks in the IPL but this one will surely rank as the crown jewel.
#3 Brendon McCullum - 158* (73 Balls)
It was the knock that set the IPL ablaze, the knock that probably heralded the sign of things to come. In a blistering display of scintillating stroke play, one of the most dangerous batsmen that world cricket has ever seen, Brendon Mccullum dismantled the Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit with a riveting display with the willow.
The setting for this classic was the M.Chinnaswany stadium in Bangalore. Mccullum took the attack to the opposition, and no bowler was spared. He smashed 10 fours and a staggering 13 sixes in that knock and set the Chinnaswamy Stadium alight with his ethereal stroke play.
What this knock did was, it opened up a wide gamut of possibilities for the viewers, and also provided the perfect start to an extravagant T20 tournament.
However, this inning proved to be the only high point of the entire season for the Kolkata Knight Riders as Sourav Ganguly's men finished 6th in the table, failing to qualify for the semi-finals.
#2 Virat Kohli - 113 (50 Balls)
The mind of a champion works in a way that ordinary mortals cannot fathom. For, these are men who look at the challenge in the eye and seek to vanquish it.
On the 11th of May 2016, a champion called Virat Kohli dazzled and sparkled his way to a splendid hundred against the Kings XI Punjab. He had 8 stitches on the webbing of his left hand, but that did not prevent the master batsman from carving out an exquisite century on that day.
Kohli’s dexterity was on full view on that day, as he let his mastery shine through and scored a captivating 113 off just 50 balls that left the Kings XI Punjab bowlers in a tizzy.
The IPL has seen many great innings, but this one ranks up there as one of the best ever, for the sheer grit and determination Kohli displayed on that day.
#1 Chris Gayle - 175* (66 Balls)
The boundary ropes appeared like mere formalities, the fielders became spectators, and spectators became fielders, and the bowlers cringed in utter disbelief.
On the 23rd of April 2013, Christopher Henry Gayle wreaked havoc at the M.Chinnasany Stadium in Bangalore. In a brutal and murderous assault on the hapless Pune Warriors outfit, the legendary West Indian batsman scored a breathtaking 175* off just 66 balls, and in the process allowed the Royal Challengers Bangalore to crush the Pune Warriors by 130 runs.
Let us put this in some context. In the entire history of the IPL, there have been just 2 individual scores of 150 or more, but Gayle scored 154 runs through fours and sixes alone on that day.
In all probability, such a superhuman performance might never be repeated again the history of the IPL.