The 12th edition of the biggest T20 cricket league in the world will begin on March 23rd, 2019. The schedule is yet to be announced due to the dates of the Indian General Elections that are yet to be released. IPL 2019 will end only weeks before the ICC World Cup in England. M.S. Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings are (again) defending champions, while Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians and David Warner’s Sunrisers Hyderabad are expected to be top contenders. Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore are the three teams yet to win the IPL title. The winners so far: CSK (3), MI (3), KKR (2), SRH (1), DC (1), RR (1).
While we brace for this season, it’s time to look into the archives. With eleven completed seasons of IPL cricket in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a closer look at the absolute best of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament in the last decade.
Here are three of the most exciting and hard-fought seasons so far:
The inaugural season of the IPL came on the heels of the successful T20 World Cup held in South Africa in 2007, which, incidentally, was won by India. So when IPL was hosted by Lalit Modi in the biggest cricketing nation in the world, the eyes were on it. Ever since Shoaib Akhtar and Brendon McCullum set the first match against RCB on fire with memorable performances on the first day for KKR, the debut season enthralled curious viewers with the first extended look at the shortest format of the game. 59 matches were played by the original 8 teams, with teams like Sachin Tendulkar’s Mumbai Indians and Dhoni’s CSK starting as favorites. By the end, however, Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals – a team of raw youngsters and seasoned all-rounders – fashioned a miraculous underdog victory after topping the group stages and pipping CSK to the finish line in the final at Mumbai. Players like Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan became overnight household names, and Indian cricket was never the same again. It took an Aussie (or two, including Shane Watson as MVP) to change the tide.
IPL-7 was a resounding success, again because a dark horse of a team threatened to become the runaway fairytale story of the season. But Sanjay Bangar coached Kings XI Punjab, led by George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell, fell just short in the final, losing to an impressive KKR team in a high-scoring classic. Despite Wriddhiman Saha’s once-in-a-lifetime century, it was KKR and Manish Pandey who stole victory by 3 wickets while chasing 200 in Bengaluru. But it was KXIP who came away as the team that won hearts, especially after the way they topped the table with only 3 defeats in 14 games. Unfortunately, they lost twice to bogey team KKR in the playoffs alone. This, despite an aging Virender Sehwag scoring a pulsating century in the second qualifier against CSK, which was led by a belligerent 87 by IPL top scorer Suresh Raina. There was an energy to this season that we’ve rarely seen since.
This was the season of Virat Kohli, the T20 superstar. An awe-inspiring 973 runs across the season, including no less than four centuries, set the stage for the top-heavy RCB (Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers backed him up in their own inimitable style) to bully their way into the final against David Warner’s underdog but superbly well-rounded bowling attack in SRH. Yet, despite the fifties by Gayle and Kohli in the final, RCB fell short while chasing 209, making them the only IPL team to lose 3 finals. But this wasn’t before the team lit up the season with some insane shot-making and record-breaking feats by its top 3 batsmen. But it was the bowler who won the day eventually; Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman combined to hand SRH their first and only IPL title. They came close in 2018 again, by reaching the final before losing to a Shane Watson century.
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