The Indian Premier League in the UAE has been full of surprises. A double Super Over. Back to back centuries. Four maidens in a row. Some spectacular catches. And much more. That’s T20 cricket for you. That’s IPL. And IPL 2020 pushed up the excitement by several notches.
Never mind the COVID-19 pandemic. It may have shunted IPL overseas. It may have robbed IPL of its loyal fans. But in this age of technology, no distance is too far. Television, laptops and cellphones brought IPL around the world. To homes and the palms. The IPL magic is still alive.
As IPL 2020 hurtles into the last week of the round-robin phase, we bring you our choice of the six magic moments this year.
1. Tewatia’s five-six attack
Five sixes in an over. That too to steer his team to victory. It’s surreal. The stuff of fiction, really. Rahul Tewatia lived the dream, hammering five sixes from a Sheldon Cottrell over to take Rajasthan Royals to a thrilling victory over the Kings XI Punjab. Well, those fireworks gave rise to the phrase: do a Tewatia.
What makes it even more incredible is that Tewatia was unable to put bat to ball. It was a 20-ball struggle before the Rajasthan leg-spinner began to strike the ball with confidence. And in Over 18, he turned a looming defeat into a victory. That’s the TeWOWtia magic.
2. De Villiers keeps delivering
AB de Villiers is at his best when the chips are down. But he’s done that so often in the past for the Royal Challengers Bangalore that they cease to be magical. But the 33-ball 73 against the Rajasthan Royals had genius written all over it.
The boundaries had dried up when De Villiers arrived at the crease with Bangalore needing 76 off 42 balls. By the 19th over, it had become 35 off 12. Rajasthan opted to bowl Jayadev Unadkat instead of Jofra Archer. De Villiers waved his wand, and the first three balls went for 6, 6, 6. The match was as good as over.
3. Chakravarthy lords it with five wickets
Five wickets in a T20 match: that’s a rarity. A magical feat. That’s what Varun Chakravarthy did. He scalped five against the Delhi Capitals. The architect, who failed to become a cricketer twice, finally found his bearings this year. And he’s an important member of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chakravarthy’s five didn’t get the kind of attention it deserves. Delhi were already under enormous pressure, and the leggie merely exploited it. Needing 119 runs from 54 balls, Delhi batsmen chanced their arm against Chakravarthy. Wrong move. For, Chakravarthy has a bagful of tricks. Not for nothing, they call him a mystery spinner. He’s packs magic in his deliveries.
4. Siraj swings it for Bangalore
Mohammed Siraj is not a permanent fixture for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He can move the ball around, but in unhelpful conditions he can go for runs. On October 21 he was unplayable in Abu Dhabi, and the Kolkata Knight Riders slumped to the lowest total of the season.
Skipper Virat Kohli handed the new ball to Siraj, who found swing and edges to grab three quick wickets – two of them coming in a maiden over. The one that crashed through Nitish Rana’s defences was the best. He bowled two maidens, which is an IPL record. That was interspersed by a maiden each from Chris Morris and Washington Sundar. That makes for four maidens in a row, which is another IPL record. Siraj returned sensational figures of 4-2-3-8.
5. Buttler-Nortje duel in the desert
When a classy batsman takes on a fiery pace bowler, it makes for one of the exhilarating sights in cricket. That’s what happened when Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler came up against the Delhi Capital’s pace ace Anrich Nortje. An over of magic brought goosebumps to the cricket connoisseurs.
Buttler nonchalantly lofted the first delivery for a six. Nortje cranked it up to over 150kmph. Two balls later, Buttler ramped him to fine leg for a boundary. The next one came at 156, and Buttler moved outside the off-stump and ramped again. A stunning shot. Another 155 delivery and Buttler drives at it and misses. Timber! What a duel!
6. Rashid Khan casts a spell
Rashid Khan is the best leg spinner in the world. If you’ve been watching IPL 2020, you would agree. The Afghan bowler is the trump card in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s pack. Whenever captain David Warner wants a wicket, he goes to Khan who almost always obliges.
So what’s his moment of magic? There’s not an isolated instance of brilliance. Every time he’s come on to bowl, most players treat him with respect. They see out his overs. When Bangalore played Hyderabad, the great De Villiers kept playing and missing him. If we want a single episode that over would be it. Khan’s magic spell.