The IPL 2021 came to a sudden halt with the Covid-19 pandemic breaching the bio-bubble and infecting a few players and supporting staff. However, a little more than half the tournament did take place and there were some memorable performances during the course of the three and a half weeks.
We look at the five best batting performances of IPL 2021.
1. Kieron Pollard (87 not out in 34 balls) vs CSK in Delhi
Kieron Pollard roared back into top-form with what was one of the best innings in the history of the IPL. CSK had set MI a daunting target of 219. Pollard came out to bat in the 10th over with the required rate almost 14. He played himself in and the required rate soared to 16 per over. He then produced what was one of the highest impact knocks in a chase in T20 cricket history blasting 8 sixes in his power-packed innings. The two standout qualities of his performance were his brute force and his strategy to hit straight - the former perfectly complementing the latter.
Pollard recorded his fifty off just 17 deliveries - the fastest in IPL 2021 and the joint-fastest for the Mumbai Indians. The team needed 16 off the final over and Pollard took Lungi Ngidi for a 4, 4 and 6 off the first five deliveries before scampering for a couple off the final ball of the match to hand MI one of the greatest wins witnessed in the IPL. It was the second-highest successful chase ever in the IPL. MI had scored a staggering 138 runs in the final 10 overs - the highest runs scored by a team in a successful IPL chase ever!
2. Sanju Samson (119 in 63 balls) vs PBKS in Mumbai
Sanju Samson did what he does best in the IPL - start the tournament with a blistering hundred! Despite losing two early wickets in a mammoth 222-run chase, Samson kept the hope and belief of the Royals alive initially taking his time to resurrect the innings before going on the offensive after the dismissal of Jos Buttler.
From 29 off the first 22 deliveries he faced, Samson smashed 90 off the next 41 at a stunning strike rate of 219.51 in what was a breathtaking display of shot-making. Although he could not quite finish the match for his team and the Royals fell just short, Samson again gave a glimpse of his genius with the bat and almost single-handedly took RR on the brink of victory. He scored a staggering 55% of his team’s runs in the chase.
3. Shikhar Dhawan (92 in 49 balls) vs PBKS in Mumbai
This was another great performance in a successful chase in Mumbai. Shikhar Dhawan had started the tournament from where he had left off in the UAE a few months earlier. Playing the role of the aggressor he hammered a scintillating 92 off just 49 deliveries against the Punjab Kings helping the Capitals chase down 195 with six wickets in hand and as many as 10 deliveries remaining. Dhawan gave the Capitals a fine start and along with Prithvi Shaw put together 62 in the powerplay. He recorded his fifty off just 31 deliveries and then blasted the next 42 runs in just 18 deliveries at a strike rate of 233.33.
4. AB de Villiers (75 not out in 42 balls) vs DC in Ahmedabad
AB came at number 5 with his team in a spot of bother at 60 for 3 in the 9th over. Three of their four top batsmen – Kohli, Padikkal and Maxwell - had already been sent back to the pavilion. The run-rate was also only a touch over six per over. AB wanted to bat for most of the innings.
He comprehended the match situation and attached a price on his wicket. He had to bat deep if RCB had any chance to post a competitive total in the match. Having stabilized the innings, AB changed a few gears and went on the rampage from the 15th over. From a mere 21 off his initial 20 deliveries, he smashed 54 off the next 22 at a strike rate of 245! He gave the innings the perfect flourish blasting Marcus Stoinis for three maximums in the 20th over helping RCB amass more than hundred in the last 10 overs. RCB posted 171 and went on to win a thriller by a solitary run.
5. Devdutt Padikkal (101 not out in 52 balls) vs RR in Mumbai
There are not many instances when a batsman at the other end can outscore and out perform the great Virat Kohli. Devdutt Padikkal produced one such magical innings against the Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai. Chasing 177, he partnered with his captain as RCB overhauled the total with all their 10 wickets in tact and more than three and a half overs in the bag.
Padikkal, usually an accumulator, showed a side of his batting which is very rarely on display. Padikkal - the aggressor smashed 11 fours and 6 sixes on his way to a magnificent unbeaten 101 off just 52 deliveries. The left-hander came out in a destructive mood and took the attack to the RR bowling unit in the powerplay smashing 41 of the 59 runs RCB scored in the first six overs.