Sunrisers' maiden title, Yuvraj's debut final, Raina's first miss: IPL 2016 was the league of many firsts
The latest edition of the IPL will be remembered for many reasons, including milestones never seen before in IPL history
After nearly two months of gruelling cricket, the ninth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has finally come to an end. The latest edition of India's cash-rich Twenty20 league, which ended on Sunday with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) out-batting Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the final, turned out to be a memorable one for several reasons.
Whether it was batting superstar Virat Kohli and his sensational form, David Warner leading Sunrisers from the front or young Bangladeshi pacer Mustafizur Rahman shining in his maiden IPL appearance, walking out with the emerging player award, IPL 2016 had all the glitz and glamour one associates the tournament with.
In the end, SRH were deserving winners, backed by consistent performances from what was considered the best bowling attack of the tournament and an explosive run by Warner — one that gave some serious competition to Kohli. The tournament was also the first time we saw MS Dhoni missing a knock-out match, the first time we saw Suresh Raina miss any match! Here are a few other hightlights and milestones, in no particular order:
Sunrisers Hyderabad won their first IPL title:
Being captain obvious here. However, with just three teams — Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians (MI) — juggling the trophy among them since the last six years, the time was right for an unfancied team like Sunrisers Hyderabad, a team not many would have picked as among their pre-tournament favourites, to win the trophy.
However, the side boasted of the best bowling line-up among all teams and pulled it off with a series of inspired performances, ultimately toppling title favourites Royal Challengers Bangalore at their Chinnaswamy fortress.
Raina missing his first-ever match
Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina did a commendable job of leading a new side to the IPL play-offs, in his first-ever captaincy assignment. However, while doing so, Raina ended up missing his first ever IPL match. The former CSK batsman had to fly off to Amsterdam to be with his wife, who was expecting the birth of their first child. Brendon McCullum took over the captaincy duties from Raina for the match against RCB at the Chinnaswamy, and his side were hammered by a record 144 runs in a game that included a spectacular Kohli-ABD show.
Dhoni failing to lead his side to the playoffs
Few leaders have experienced as much IPL success as Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "Captain Cool" — the persona that he has created for himself over the years with his inspirational brand of leadership — has won 83 out of the 143 matches that he has played as captain.
However, the ninth edition of the tournament turned out to be an unlucky one for him, as he failed to lead his side past the league stage for the first time ever.
Following the suspension of CSK, Dhoni was appointed captain of the Rising Pune Supergiants, and the team got off to a superb start with a nine-wicket thrashing of defending champions Mumbai Indians. However, a series of injuries led to a massive loss of key personnel causing their fortunes to decline rapidly. In the end, Dhoni smashed two sixes off the last two balls in their final game against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to avoid a last-place finish, but that was nothing more than a consolation.
The Pandya Bros — first siblings to play for the same team:
When Hardik Pandya became a household name in the country (or at least in Mumbai) after a series of good performances in last year's IPL, his elder brother Krunal was an unknown entity. The latest edition of the tournament however, belonged to the older sibling. If Hardik and Jasprit Bumrah were the finds of the previous edition, then Krunal was the unpolished diamond that Mumbai unearthed in IPL 9.
Krunal shone both with bat and ball, taking crucial wickets at regular intervals (dismissing Kohli and ABD in the same over), or hammering a match-winning 86 off 37 deliveries against Delhi Daredevils. Krunal definitely caught the attention of the selectors, and he was even tipped for a call-up to the national side.
It was always going to be special for the family, when they played alongside each other, and it finally happened in the home fixture against Gujarat Lions, in which the two achieved the distinction of becoming the distinction of being the first pair of siblings to play for the same IPL side in the tournament history.
Yuvraj Singh played an IPL final
Despite having played for four different franchises — Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Pune Warriors India (PWI), Delhi Daredevils (DD) and RCB — Yuvraj Singh did not always have a great record when it came to his team's fortunes in the tournament. Barring the inaugural edition, in which the left-arm batsmen led KXIP to a semi-final finish, Yuvi never even featured in a play-off match.
Sunday night was was a dream come true for Yuvraj, as he played his first ever IPL final, and helped his side Sunrisers Hyderabad clinch the title. An overjoyed Yuvraj went on to state that he would place the IPL trophy at the top of his cabinet, which also includes a World Cup, a World T20 and a Champions Trophy title.
David Warner becomes first overseas captain to score 600 runs in IPL
Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner led his team from the front, scoring 848 runs in the tournament, becoming the first overseas captain to score over 600 runs in a single edition. That he scored these runs without a single century shows how consistent he was. Interestingly enough though, Warner was also the first overseas captain to the 500-run mark, finishing with 562 in the 2015 edition.
Kanpur hosting an IPL match
When Gujarat Lions announced Kanpur's Green Park as their alternate home venue, residents of the Uttar Pradesh city had reason to rejoice, as the cricket carnival finally moved to their turf. The moment finally arrived when the Lions hosted Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the venue played host to Apple CEO Tim Cook and actor Sanjay Dutt.
Gujarat made their new home fans proud by romping to a six-wicket victory, before establishing themselves at the top of the points table with another victory here in their final match of the group stage, this time over Mumbai Indians.
Kohli becomes highest ever run-scorer in IPL history
Virat Kohli has earned the envy of fellow batsmen by setting herculean standards for batsmanship, hammering 973 runs at 81.08 to finish as the top run-getter in IPL 2016, and also becoming the highest run getter in IPL history with 4,110 runs. Apart from playing a huge role, both as a captain and as a batsman, in guiding his side to the final of the tournament, Kohli also became the first-ever batsman to scale the 800-run mark in the tournament's history, after breaking Chris Gayle and Mike Hussey's record for most runs in a single edition (733).
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