2008: Bazball arrives
Brendon McCullum was in ordinary form ahead of the first edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and struggled to score in the first over of the tournament. Then he connected… and did not stop before slamming 158, at that point the highest score in T20 history.
The Chinnaswamy crowd did not care that Royal Challengers Bangalore, the home team, was being thrashed: they cheered and danced in the stands for each of McCullum’s 13 sixes.
The next day, then IPL commissioner Lalit Modi thanked McCullum in person: “To me he was my hero. The man who fast-tracked my dream into a reality.”
2009: Jumbo flies in vain
Ahead of the season, Bangalore replaced Rahul Dravid with Kevin Pietersen as captain, but their fortunes did not change until Anil Kumble took over.
Bangalore eventually reached the final. Kumble took first over and finished with 4-0-16-4. The Deccan Chargers won by six runs, but Kumble was named Player of the Match.
2010: A genius arrives
Chennai Super Kings found a young local off-spinner called R Ashwin, a fantastic exponent of the carrom ball, but he became a regular feature only when they met their count of four overseas members and had to leave out Muttiah Muralitharan.
Ashwin took the new ball, and bamboozled top-order batters match after match. His best performance came when he picked up Chris Gayle, McCullum, and David Hussey with his first 12 balls. The Kolkata Knight Riders never recovered, and Ashwin finished with 4-0-16-3.
2011: Out of nowhere…
Barring hardcore cricket fans, not many would have heard of Paul Valthaty before that night in Mohali and not many have heard of him since.
Playing only his second game for the Kings XI Punjab, Valthaty blasted an unbeaten 120 in 63 balls to help the franchise make a mockery of a target of 189. The innings launched him into superstardom, but his career fizzled out after the season.
2012: Straight from Trinidad
Sunil Narine had barely played international cricket when Kolkata fought hard with the Mumbai Indians to acquire him at the 2012 IPL auctions.
At Wankhede that season, the same Mumbai squad seemed visibly happy during the break after restricting KKR to 140-8. They had not accounted for Narine, who finished with 3.1-0-15-4 – including Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma – to bowl out Mumbai for 108.
Kolkata won the IPL that season. Narine was named Player of the Tournament.
Gayle won the Orange Cap in both 2011 and 2012, but his most famous innings came in 2013, against the Pune Warriors India.
He made a mockery of the Pune attack, eventually amassing 175 not out (still a world record in all T20 cricket) off 66 balls. His 17 sixes were a world record too… until he himself broke it in 2017.
“I’m astonished myself,” was all that Virat Kohli, his captain, could utter after the innings. As if all that was not enough, Gayle finished with 2-5 in his only over.
2014: The Tare six
To qualify for the Playoffs, Mumbai had to get 190 in 14.3 overs against the Rajasthan Royals. At that stage, they were 189-5: for them to qualify, Aditya Tare, yet to face, had to hit a six – nothing less – off the first ball he would face.
Tare did exactly that, lofting James Faulkner over square-leg. What made it worse for the Rajasthan was the fact that MI qualified at their expense.
Unfortunately, Tare’s hit put into shade Corey Anderson’s 44-ball 95 not out – one of the greatest batting performances in an IPL chase.
2015: A forgotten performance
Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) finished seventh out of eight teams in 2015, but captain JP Duminy provided what was arguably the performance of the season.
Against a Sunrisers Hyderabad attack consisting of Dale Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Praveen Kumar, Duminy carved out a 41-ball 54. Then he opened bowling, and finished with 3-0-17-4 – the batters being Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner, Ravi Bopara, and Eoin Morgan.
2016: Double trouble
The Gujarat Lions were probably elated after getting Gayle for a 13-ball six that day. When they got the next wicket, it was off the penultimate ball of the innings. They got Virat Kohli for a 55-ball 109, but AB de Villiers remained unbeaten on a 52-ball 129.
RCB added a ridiculous 229 runs in 16 overs – then a world record, and still an IPL record for any wicket.
2017: Pant wins match and opposition
Gujarat made 208-7, but that total seemed puny when Delhi’s teenage wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant decided to cut loose. Coming out at 24-1, Pant hit nine sixes in a 43-ball 97.
When he fell three short of an absurd hundred, Gujarat captain Suresh Raina himself came over to congratulate him. Sachin Tendulkar hailed it as “one of the best innings I have seen in the IPL.”
2018: Watson decimates Hyderabad
Hyderabad did well to reach 178-6 in the 2018 IPL final. Chennai needed a hero, and they found him in a 36-year-old man who had given up on the longer formats, was playing with a hamstring injury, and gone scoreless for the first 10 balls.
Then the carnage began. Watson raced to a hundred in 51 balls (41, really), and finished on 111 not out from 57 balls. After being banned for two years, Chennai returned to win the IPL trophy.
2019: Russell mania
Bangalore made 205-3 that day, and after 17.2 overs, Kolkata still needed 53. At this point, Andre Russell, having scored a solitary run off four balls, decided that enough was enough.
The next nine balls he faced went for 6, 6, 6, 1, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6. Let alone win the match, Bangalore lost with five balls to spare.
2020: Tewatia’s turnaround
Chasing 224, Rajasthan were struggling at 173-3 after 17 overs against Punjab. At the crease, the unheralded Rahul Tewatia had been struggling during his 23-ball 17, and had been an object of ridicule on social media.
That changed in the 18th over, when Tewatia hit five sixes in the next over, bowled by Sheldon Cottrell, and one more off the next ball he faced, off Mohammed Shami. Rajasthan pulled off the highest chase in IPL history with three balls to spare.
2021: The Jadeja show
Chennai were 154-4 at Wankhede that day against Bangalore when Harshal Patel came to bowl the last over of the innings. Ravindra Jadeja responded with 6, 6, 6, 6, 2, 6, 4 – there was a no-ball as well – to equal the IPL record of 37 runs in an over.
Still not content, he took out Washington Sundar, Glenn Maxwell, and de Villiers to finish with 4-1-13-3, and unleashed one of his bazooka throws to run out Dan Christian.
2022: The miracle catch
At 150-6, Kolkata were out of the hunt after Lucknow Super Giants piled 210-0… when Rinku Singh decided to step up with a 15-ball 40.
With three runs to score off two balls, Marcus Stoinis bowled outside the off stump. Rinku did not middle the ball, but it still went over cover, and the batters sprinted.
But Evin Lewis charged in about 25 metres from sweeper, gaining ground at astonishing pace. Then flung himself in front to come up with a one-handed catch that won him the Catch of the Tournament award.