Every batsman dreams of staying till the end in a chase and hit the winning shot, but that’s probably the toughest thing to do in international cricket. That way this year’s IPL was a good one for exciting nail-biting chases. A look at 10 of the best finishers of 2018…
The Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka in March this year was a real turning point for Karthik. It wasn't just the last-ball finish but the 8-ball 29 in the final that left everyone breathless. Karthik carried the good form to IPL 2018 and executed the maximum finishes of the season.
He started off early in the tournament when Royal Challengers Bangalore set a competitive target of 177. Captain Karthik led from the front with a steady unbeaten 35 that saw KKR home in the penultimate over.
In the match with Rajasthan Royals, the target was much more modest at 161, but a slow start meant that Karthik had to up the pace which he did. His unbeaten 42 off 23 saw his team home.
With eventual champions CSK, he went even more berserk.
Chasing 181, Karthik belted 45 off 18 which included just one six but seven fours.
In the rematch with RR it was déjà vu. Karthik hit 41 off 31 to help his team pick up valuable points. Then was the all-important match with table toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad. An unbeaten 26 by Karthik saw KKR through in the dying moments of the match. You can say that Karthik powered KKR all the way to the playoffs.
In the Eliminator a Karthik first innings half-century saw them through.
In the chase for 175 in Qualifier 2, Karthik perished cheaply and so did his team.
MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings)
When Dhoni entered international cricket, he was a furious finisher and would end matches many overs in advance. After that he became more circumspect and would start steadily and take it to the last over. However in IPL 2018, fans got a glimpse of the old Dhoni.
In the away match with RCB, the hosts put up a formidable target of 206. It was a walk in the park for Dhoni who hit seven sixes in his unbeaten 70 off 34. In the return RCB match at Pune the visitors collapsed to 124. Dhoni strolled to 31 to ensure a victory.
When table toppers SRH set a target of 180, the CSK openers put up a brisk 134. Still the job had to be done at the end and Dhoni’s 20 did just that. A similar situation arose in the match with Kings XI Punjab and Dhoni was unbeaten on 16 off 7 balls.
AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
There’s no way you can keep ABD down and it’s a crying shame that he retired. He’s just 34 and could have easily played for 4-5 more years; he’s in such prime form.
When DD set a target of 175, ABD made it look all too easy. After the top order fell cheaply and had a really slow start, ABD stepped up the pace. He hit five sixes and ten fours on his way to a 39 ball 90 (strike rate 230.8) and he wrapped up the match in 18 overs.
In the DD return match he didn’t let up. This time the target was a much higher 182 and ABD hit sis sixes and four fours for a 37 ball 72 that wrapped up the match in 19 overs. Thumbnails FullScreen comments Comments 15 / 30 Related gallery ‹ ›
Shane Watson (Chennai Super Kings)
Let off from Royal Challengers Bangalore, Watson had a point to prove this season. He did it in style. He made 555 runs at a strike rate of 154.6. He had just one finish, but that was grand and the most important of the season and probably the best in a final.
SRH put up a target of 179, which is quite formidable for a final. To make matters worse, CSK had a really bad start. The first over was a maiden and they were 16-1 after 4 overs. Watson probably had the worst start: 10 dot balls. But in the next 47 balls, he hit eight sixes and eleven fours for an astonishing century that won CSK their third title. In fact the 13th over went as follows: 04666Wd4. Game over for SRH!
Kane Williamson (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Williamson not only was a great captain who won the Purple Cap, but he was also involved in some successful run chases. In the match with RR, the target was a measly 126. But still Williamson decided to chase it early till the end with an unbeaten 36. With DD chasing 164, Williamson played another such cameo of 32. When SRH met DD again, this time the target was a much greater 188. Williamson stepped up to the task and plundered a 53 ball 83.
Shikhar Dhawan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Williamson’s partner wasn’t far behind. The two in total put up three century partnerships. Two of them won SRH the match including an unbeaten 176 run partnership against DD.
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals)
Against CSK, chasing a stiff target of 177, RR did it thanks to a 60 ball 95 by Buttler. 12 runs were needed in the final over and he wrapped it up with a ball to spare. In an identical performance, Buttler hit a 53 ball 94 with five sixes and nine fours. He ended the match with a six.
Ambati Rayudu (Chennai Super Kings)
Against CSK, chasing a stiff target of 177, RR did it thanks to a 60 ball 95 by Buttler. 12 runs were needed in the final over and he wrapped it up with a ball to spare. The top-scorer for CSK, he hit a brilliant 100 off 62 with seven sixes and seven fours to chase 180 with SRH. Then he had the privilege of hitting the winning boundary in the final to help clinch CSK its third IPL title.
KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab)
Rahul made light of the RR target of 153 with his 84 not out off 54 balls peppered with three sixes and seven fours. The target was chased down in 18.4 overs. Even though he didn’t last till the very end, he had other good knocks in winning chases.
This list already has 3 CSK players so it would be unfair to put the team in the list too. But one can’t help it. CSK was full of finishers and they all played a crucial role so it is worthwhile mentioning all of them, especially since they won their third title.
In the first Qualifier, CSK kept losing wickets and were behind in the chase when Faf du Plessis kept his best for the last hitting 67 off 42 and he entered the final with a six. Shardul Thakur, 15 (5), kept him company at the other end.
ou just can’t keep Suresh Raina out of the picture. His unbeaten 61 off 48 helped chase a target of 154 with KXIP. Kedar Jadhav also joined in the festivities with an unbeaten 24 while chasing a target of 166 against Mumbai Indians.
Then there was the last ball six by Sir Ravindra Jadeja that helped CSK mow down a 200+ target against KKR. Also don’t forget Dwayne Bravo, who had many small chasing cameos throughout the tournament.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here