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Pandey’s winner, Pollard’s stunner, Mishra’s folly: The top moments of IPL 7

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The IPL 7 has finally come to an end with the Kolkata Knight Riders ending up as worthy winners. It was a long journey and this edition gave us a lot of moments to savour. Here are some of the moments that made the IPL 7 special. Best innings in a winning cause: Manish Pandey’s scintillating innings of 94 from 50 balls against Kings XI Punjab in the final was the innings of the tournament. Pandey was the first Indian centurion in the IPL but after that innings he was lost in the oblivion. He had a mediocre tournament going into the finals but he kept his best for the most crucial match. KKR were set a daunting target of 200 and to make matters worse, they lost their in-form and best batsman of the tournament, Robin Uthappa, in just the first over. Pandey strode out to the crease at no. 3 and played a fearless brand of cricket. Often after a wicket fell, he hit the next ball for a six. George Bailey later in the post-match interview described it as ‘Ballsy stuff’. Special mention: Corey Anderson’s 44-ball 95 innings against Rajasthan Royals which helped MI chase down a near improbable target of 190 from 14.4 overs to qualify for the play-offs.

Best innings in a losing cause: Without any doubt or second thoughts, the best innings in a losing cause was Suresh Raina’s 87 off 25 balls in Qualifier 2 against KXIP when he nearly helped CSK chased down 227. He strode to the crease in the first over after the early dismissal of Faf Du Plessis and just took the wind out of KXIP’s sails. The amazing thing about his innings was that he didn’t just slog, he played proper cricketing shots. He played lovely lofts over extra covers, drives, pulls and clever dabs. He was unluckily to be run out after a hesitation with Brendon McCullum but he had set the platform with 100 runs from six overs. The rest of the batsmen faltered after his dismissal which prevented CSK from entering theuir sixth final in seven outings. Top moment: Dale Steyn embracing AB de Villiers was the moment of IPL 7. We don’t often see a bowler acknowledge a batsmen after being taken to cleaners but it was heartening to see Steyn walk up to de Villiers and embrace him after the latter had hit the winning shot. RCB needed 28 off 12 and de Villiers took the attack to Steyn in the penultimate over hitting him for 22 runs including three sixes and a four. That over pretty much sealed the match for RCB. Funniest moment: The Amit Mishra run out against Rajasthan Royals at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, was the most hilarious moment of the IPL. It was the last over of the first innings, Faulkner bowled a slower one outside the off stump, Mishra went for a wild swing but missed. He then set off to run for a bye, but for some unfathomable reason, Irfan Pathan was not interested and sent him back. Mishra was livid with Pathan and stopped mid-way, the keeper missed his shy at the striker’s end, the ball rolled to Faulkner who also missed his shy at the striker’s end — Mishra was out of the crease all this time — having a go at Pathan and only then strolled back towards the crease. The keeper once again pouched the ball and finally managed to knock down the stumps at the striker’s end with Mishra looking totally disinterested while glaring at Pathan. Point is, he got caught short of his crease when he could have made it in comfortably. The SRH coach Tom Moody couldn’t believe what Mishra had done. Best Catch: The top two contenders were Chris Lynn (vs RCB) and Kieron Pollard. It was pretty difficult to choose between the two but Pollard edged out Lynn by a very small margin. The catch came against Rajasthan Royals at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera. Kevon Cooper pulled one powerfully to long on, it was going over the ropes but Pollard who was stationed there, leapt in the air, pouched it with one hand and then realised he was losing his balance. However, he made sure he didn’t touch the rope, jumped in the air, threw the ball inside, recovered quickly, jumped back inside the rope, kept his balance then dived full length to complete the catch. It was a wonderful piece of athleticism. Best Shot: Manan Vohra’s six off Mohammad Shami was the shot of the tournament. It left everyone awe struck. It came off the fifth ball of the fourth over — Shami bowled a good length delivery outside off, Vohra just stood tall and punched it effortlessly over covers for a maximum. It was an astonishing shot which he played with great ease. After that shot, Sehwag came up to him and patted his back. Special mention to Sanju Samson’s six off Steyn at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera. It was the first ball of the fourth over, Steyn bowled it full outside off, Samson just lofted it effortlessly and it went sailing into the crowd beyond the long off fence. It takes some talent to hit that kind of a shot against one of the most dangerous bowlers. It was just pleasing to the eye. Match of the tournament: It has to be the Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals final group match at Wankhede. Both the teams were fighting for the final playoff spot. RR posted 189 and MI had to score those runs in 14.3 overs to pip RR on run rate. It turned out to be a thriller — there was emotion, drama, joy and wild celebrations. Anderson played an innings of a lifetime, 95 off 44 balls. The equation came down to eight from two balls. Rayudu hit one for six. That meant MI needed two from one but then Rayudu was run out going for the second. He was down on the ground, inconsolable. But then the calculators provided MI a lifeline. They needed to hit one to the fence off the next ball. A cool and calm Aditya Tare strode out, Faulkner bowled a full toss and Tare just smacked it into the second tier over the long leg fence to set off in soccer-type wild celebrations and the entire Wankhede went berserk as MI pulled off a coup. The RR skipper looked on in disbelief and Rahul Dravid flung his cap in frustration. Ugliest moment: Amidst these wonderful scenes, there were some ugly scenes too. One of them was the spat between Kieron Pollard and Mitchell Starc. It happened in the 17th over of the MI vs RCB match Wankhede. Starc had bowled a bouncer to Pollard off the fifth delivery, the West Indian was hurried up, looked to pull and missed. Starc had a word or two with Pollard who asked him to get back to his bowling mark. In the next delivery, Pollard backed away due to some distraction while Starc was in his run up and the Australian pacer still bowled the delivery following the big man which just flew inches wide of him. This is where Pollard lost it and hurled the bat towards Starc. Fortunately the bat hit the pitch and flew away to the leg side. The players went overboard and these are not the scenes one wants to witness in the gentleman’s game. Worst blunder: You are never short of blunders when Rameez Raja and Ravi Shastri are in the commentary box. And Shastri was at it again in the last group match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals match. It was a thrilling match and just as Aditya Tare hit the winning six, Shastri shouted at the top of his voice “And… It’s Ambati Rayudu once again…” Soon after he realised that it was Tare but that had already made social media go bonkers with Shastri jokes.

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