The Best of 2017: Best T20 match of the year
From the many nail-biting finishes, we have selected an IPL game to be crowned as the best non-international T20 match.
Published - Dec 30, 2017 12:24 am | Updated - Dec 30, 2017 11:43 am
Like any other year, there was no dearth of adrenaline-rushing matches for the cricket fans in 2017. With the numerous T20 leagues all over the world, we have had enough cracking games to satisfy our appetite. From the many nail-biting finishes, we have selected an Indian Premier League (IPL) game to be crowned as the best non-international T20 match of the year.
On the 29th of April, the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot was buzzing with fans of the home team, Gujarat Lions. They were aware of the fact that it was going to be their last year in the league and weren’t ready to miss a tinge of the entertainment. What they got from the players was perhaps beyond expectations.
The skipper of the host side, Suresh Raina elected to bat after winning the toss in a crucial tie against Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians, who later went on to win the league. Youngster Ishan Kishan opened the innings alongside master of this format, Brendon McCullum.
Poor start for Lions
Veteran vs veteran, the Malinga-McCullum tussle was the one everyone was looking up to. To disappoint the home fans, Baz lost to the Sri Lankan, and the next 3 batters in Raina, Finch and Dinesh Karthik came to the crease and went back to the dugout, without creating any nuisance in the scoreboard. In the 9th over, Lions were 56/4. But Kishan finally found a partner in Ravindra Jadeja and the scoreboard started ticking.
Tye fancies the shots
James Faulkner played a handy knock after their dismissal, but Lions found an unlikely finisher in Andrew Tye, who scored 25 runs from just 12 balls to help Gujarat steer past the 150-run mark. Yet, with a strong batting unit like Mumbai’s, it looked very much achievable without any hiccups.
Parthiv gave the away side a dream start
Parthiv Patel must have been still in the hangover of batting with Chris Gayle in his RCB times, for he tried to enact the Universe Boss. All of a sudden, Mumbai were 43 without a loss in 4 overs, and the game seemed all but over. Jos Buttler was out in the very next ball, but Nitish Rana stabilised the innings.
Half of the innings wasn’t completed yet, and MI had already scored past 80 runs. This was the time when the complexion of the match changed, once and for all. In a short span, Rana and Patel were dismissed, alongside their skipper Rohit. Yet, Mumbai had big-hitters of the ball like Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya, who on their day, can help NASA send the ball to Mars.
Pollard was dismissed after scoring 15 runs, however, the match looked still in the grasp of Indians. But again, wickets fell in a cluster, this time in the form Hardik, McClenaghan and Harbhajan Singh, and it all came down to the wire. MI needed 11 from the last over and they had Krunal Pandya in the crease, who was striking the ball beautifully.
The game boiled down to the last ball
7 runs from the first two balls of Irfan Pathan’s over meant that they will just have to score 4 runs from as many balls. Jasprit Bumrah was dismissed on the third ball, but Krunal ran for a couple on the fourth to make it 2 required from 2. The penultimate ball was perhaps the most crucial, and it resulted in a run. Could have been more exciting had Finch hit the stumps, but that was that, and Malinga was entrusted upon to score one run from the last ball.
Mumbai Indians did a Bangladesh there, and Krunal was run out on 29. The best fielder amongst the 22 players playing in the field, Jadeja was standing at point, and of all players, Malinga picked him. Jadeja opted for a sprint with which he could have outclassed a seasoned athlete, and Pandya fell short of his ground.
Buttler and Pollard went to bat in the Super Over. The big Windian hit a six and a four, but except that, it was just a run from 4 deliveries. 12 from a Super Over looked as achievable as Mumbai’s initial target, and Finch and McCullum were called upon to do the duties.
Bumrah becomes a hero
To make things worse, Bumrah committed a crime, the same crime which made him the target of all abuses after the Champions Trophy final. He bowled a no ball. 3 runs from the first ball, including 2 extras, and Lions were cruising to a victory. But the nightmarish last 5 balls resulted in only 3 runs. The match spoke volumes about the young fast bowler’s character. The prized asset might make a hundred mistakes, but he has what it takes to make his 101st comeback.
Except that, the match also showed what the Mumbai Indians are made of. On that day, we got a glimpse of the champions, who were bogged down, but never accepted defeat. This very team defeated Rising Pune Supergiant in a similar closely contested encounter for the title.
Lastly, it is very challenging to pick one amongst so many great encounters. Here are some honourable mentions, matches that failed to make it to the top, but were equally deserving:
Quetta Gladiators v Islamabad United – 24th February
Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators – 28th February
Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant – 24th April
Gujarat Lions v Delhi Daredevils – 10th May
Rising Pune Supergiant v Mumbai Indians – 21st May
Rajshahi Kings v Khulna Titans – 21st November
Dhaka Dynamites v Rangpur Riders – 21st November
Wellington v Northern Knights – 20th December
Auckland v Wellington – 24th December