Nothing attracts an audience like a nail-biter – and what’s more nail-biting than the unmatched thrill of a Super Over?
Yes, that phenomenon of recent years, which sees an entire cricket game shrunk to its most miniscule size (yet) to determine the outcome of a tied game.
The Indian Premier League, in its 11-year existence, hasn’t had a huge amount of one-over deciders – seven, as things stand ahead of IPL 2019 – but the ones that have gone the distance, have been absolute edge-of-the-seat material.
With the 12th edition of the IPL all set to kick off on 23 March, here’s a look at the five most memorable Super Overs in IPL history.
5. KXIP vs CSK, Chennai, 2010
When two of India’s biggest limited overs stars, of that time as well as all-time, camped in rival teams, the crowds would automatically flock to the stadiums/screens.
But when Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab faced off in an early season encounter in IPL 2010, MS Dhoni was sitting out as he nursed an arm injury. The Chepauk crowd would still get more than its money’s worth – with his fellow Team India superstar Yuvraj Singh playing the final hand.
CSK made unnecessarily heavy weather chasing Punjab’s modest total of 136. The hosts were 97/2 in 12.5 overs, but contrived to lose four wickets for 30 runs off the next 37 balls.
With 10 needed from the last over, bowled by Irfan Pathan, Albie Morkel slapped a first-ball four – but with just one run required off the last two deliveries, Ashwin fluffed his lines to miss one and fall to the second.
In the Super Over, ‘Rusty’ Theron – a fringe South African pacer making his IPL debut – knocked over Matthew Hayden and Suresh Raina’s stumps, but a six from stand-in captain Raina allowed Chennai to harbour hopes as they set Punjab a target of 10.
Mahela Jayawardene fronted up to Sri Lanka teammate Muttiah Muralitharan, and slammed a six over long-on off the first ball – but fell the very next ball, attempting the same shot.
Yuvraj took strike with four needed off four balls, and regained his composure after a swing-and-miss, reverse-sweeping Murali to the fence to spark manic celebrations for the Kings XI.
4. SRH vs RCB, Hyderabad, 2013
A game that never should have seen a Super Over ended up witnessing the highest-scoring decider in IPL history.
At the end of the 18th over, Sunrisers Hyderabad were 14 runs away from Royal Challengers Bangalore’s below-par score of 130/8. Hanuma Vihari – still a few years away from becoming an international cricketer – was ticking off the run-chase patiently.
But RCB, being led by a Virat Kohli who was still some years away from becoming Indian captain, stifled the hosts in the last two overs; Murali Kartik conceded only seven in the 19th, and Vinay Kumar went one better by giving away only six in the 20th.
Whatever runs Hyderabad missed in those two overs, they made up for in the tie-breaker – Cameron White quashed Vinay Kumar’s momentum with two bigs sixes, and the Sunrisers smashed 20.
The only problem, was that the man coming out for RCB was Chris Gayle. But then, SRH had a certain Dale Steyn in their camp.
An intriguing battle ensued, which the South African edged with a spate of full and fast deliveries. Gayle did make things interesting with a penultimate-ball six which brought the equation down to seven off the final ball – but Steyn held his nerve, and Hyderabad had their win.
3. MI vs GL, Rajkot, 2017
The only Super Over in the last two editions of the IPL, and a statement of purpose from Jasprit Bumrah the death overs specialist..
Chasing Gujarat Lions’ total of 153/9 in this IPL 2017 tie, Mumbai Indians completely botched the ending to conjure a humdinger of a finish.
With 15 required in two overs and five wickets in hand, and the Pandya brothers seemingly taking Mumbai over the line, rookie Basil Thampi rocked the visitors with two wickets in the penultimate over, and Irfan Pathan’s sensational run-out of Mitchell McClenaghan left Rohit Sharma’s side needing 11 off the final over with only two wickets remaining.
A rank half-tracker from Pathan saw Krunal, who stayed alive amid the bedlam of the 19th over, muscle a six to turn the equation in Mumbai’s favour again.
But two brilliant run-outs from Ravindra Jadeja – the first to find Bumrah napping at the non-striker’s end, and the second to find Krunal short of the crease attempting a last-ball single to win the game – stretched the contest.
Mumbai’s Super Over was over in five balls, but with 11 runs on the board – Kieron Pollard slammed a four and a six off James Faulkner, before he and Jos Buttler holed out in the deep off successive deliveries.
Bumrah, technically, had a horror start, as he bowled a no-ball and a wide the first three times he attempted a delivery. Those two extras, however, would prove to be one-third of Gujarat’s entire score; unfazed by the presence of Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum at the crease, Bumrah bowled two yorkers, two confuddling slower balls, another yorker, and then a low full-toss, to prevent any roar of the Lions’ blade.
Mumbai, despite scoring 11, won by five runs.
2. RR vs KKR, Cape Town, 2009
The first Super Over in the IPL had it all; drama, outrageous hitting, costly errors – you name it.
There was, of course, ample drama which led to it in the first place, and the birth of a star (albeit eventually a fleeting one).
A brisk effort from Sourav Ganguly – stripped of the captaincy at the start of what was a shambolic season for the franchise – kept Kolkata Knight Riders in the run-chase after Rajasthan Royals scored 150/6 at Cape Town.
Ganguly appeared to be playing his first match-winning knock in the IPL (46 off 30 balls), but with seven needed to win off the final over, Kamran Khan – and 18-year-old playing only his second game at any recognised level – dismissed the former India captain, and kept a stranglehold which resulted in Ishant Sharma being run-out going for the winning second run off the last ball.
The teen aged left-arm quick’s high quickly dissipated though, as KKR, led by three Chris Gayle boundaries powered their way to 15 runs in the one-over shootout.
It seemed like a winning total, all the more so given Sri Lankan mystery man Ajantha Mendis held the ball for the Knight Riders.
But Yusuf Pathan had other ideas.
6. 2. 6. 4.
Four balls. 18 runs. Game power.
With brute power, and an utter disdain for the most befuddling bowler of the time, Pathan had provided a belated but turbo-charged kick-start to the campaign for the defending champions.
The Knight Riders, well. Didn’t they have a season to remember in South Africa!
1. RR vs KKR, Abu Dhabi, 2014
A tie within a tie (within the original tie). Call it tie-ception.
But this – and we’ve saved the word with a lot of effort through this list – was an epic which deserves to be recalled way more often than it is.
It was a clash between the same two teams as entry number two above, and once again in foreign locales (although closer home, this time around).
Kolkata Knight Riders matched Rajasthan Royals’ score of 152. Then, Rajasthan Royals matched Kolkata Knight Riders’ score of 11 in the Super Over.
But the Royals, as in 2009, were the victors five years later. And it was owed to a Steve Smith stroke of mental genius (this was much before ‘brain-fade’ enter Smith’s dictionary).
Forget what happened in the first set of 20 overs, despite its own drama quotient.
In the decider, Kolkata were thankful to Manish Pandey’s six off the fourth ball from James Faulkner as they put 11 on the board.
The Royals had the Australian duo of Smith and Shane Watson take charge, and they faced the tough test of Sunil Narine – a bowler who batsmen struggled to hit to the boundary.
So the Aussies decided they didn’t need boundaries.
Nine came off the first five balls, with just one four from Watson. That meant, one imagined, Rajasthan required three off the last delivery.
Except they didn’t.
IPL Super Over rules dictate that in case of a second ‘tie’, boundaries hit in the Super Over become the tie-breaker. If that, too, is level, boundaries hit over the course of the entire match decide the outcome.
Both RR and KKR had hit just the one boundary in the Super Over, but the Royals had out-hit the Knights by 18 boundaries to 14 in the 20-over contest.
Having worked that out in his head, Smith, with the field positioned to cover any imaginable ‘big hit’, calmly nudged the ball into the empty space at cover (the two fielders square on the off-side were stationed at deep extra cover and long off) and easily jogged a double – with arms aloft.
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