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IPL 2023: Season of Close Games: From Rinku’s 5 last over sixes to Pooran’s astronomical laser show

IPL 2023: Season of Close Games: From Rinku Singh's 5 last over sixes to Nicholas Pooran’s astronomical laser show. Why so many close games in IPL 2023?

IPL 2023, GT vs KKR, Top Performances_ KKR beat Gujarat titans and move to 2nd spot in the point table ; KKR beat GT _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Rinku Singh smashed five sixes in a row against GT (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

Nearly one month into the tournament, the 16th edition of IPL has seen some remarkable close finishes. From Dhruv Jurel’s valiant cameo that almost snatched a victory for Rajasthan Royals (RR) from the jaws of defeat, to Rinku Singh’s scintillating fireworks in the last over that propelled Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to an unbelievable victory, such close encounters have surely brought the fans to the edge of their seats. Furthermore, with the advent of Impact Player rule and referral for wides/no-balls, a new dimension to the game has been added which in turn is proving to have quite an impact on the end results.

Out of 28 games played so far, nearly 11 have gone down to the wire ending in nail biting thrillers. And while the tournament continues to progress, the number of close encounters is only expected to grow. Teams chasing have won 50 per cent of the games played so far in IPL 2023. With teams now being able to chase record totals, close finishes are now becoming an everyday occurrence.

From the nerve wracking final over from Sandeep Sharma against CSK to the last ball drama in the between LSG and RCB where Avesh Khan sneaked a bye to seal the deal for Giants, the list goes on. We bring you some of the most fascinating close encounters witnessed so far in the ongoing IPL edition.

Match No.13: Gujarat Titans vs Kolkata Knight Riders

This enthralling match between KKR and GT was by far one of the best games in the history of IPL where the Titans were blown away at home by Rinku Singh’s 5 sixes in the last over. Although it was Rinku who hogged the limelight for the obvious reasons, focus must be shifted to Venkatesh Iyer who was brought in as an Impact Player in the second innings. After conceding a giant total in the first innings, KKR knew that they needed to bolster their batting department to chase down a mammoth target against a formidable GT bowling line up. The strategy soon worked out in their favour as Iyer flourished with the bat and became the highest run-scorer for his side scoring 83(40) at an astronomical strike rate of 208. His contribution with the bat helped KKR set up a solid platform for Rinku to explode in the death overs which he did with flying colours.

Match No.8: Rajasthan Royals vs Punjab Kings

Dhruv Jurel’s quickfire innings of 32(15) came in a losing cause against Punjab Kings. He walked in to bat when RR needed 74 runs in the last 5 overs with 4 wickets in hand. Following the departure of Devdutt Padikkal, Jurel was sent in as the last recognised batter ahead of Jason Holder and played a dazzling knock game to turn a one-sided game to a fairly close contest. Jurel stitched together a 61-run partnership off 26 balls with Shimron Hetmyer to take the Royals to the brink of victory. Playing only in his first IPL match, the youngster scored 32 runs off 15 balls. His lightening strokeplay sure gave some minor heart attacks to the Punjab Kings supporters. Had he not been replaced then it would either have been Holder or Boult at No.6 and the game would have been seen a rather premature end.

IPL 2023, RCB vs LSG, Top Performances_ Nicholas Pooran scored 19-ball 62 against RCB at Chinnaswamy _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Pooran scored 19-ball 62 against RCB at Chinnaswamy (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

Match No.15: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Lucknow Super Giants

During this fixture between RCB and LSG, LSG got off to worst possible start in their pursuit of 213. They lost three wickets inside the first 4 overs without sufficient runs on the board. With pressure building up, Marcus Stoinis walked in next and teamed up with KL Rahul to register a valuable 50-run partnership in just 30 balls. He scored at a staggering strike rate of over 216 and smashed 6 fours and 5 sixes.

The West Indian batting wizard Nicholas Pooran walked out to bat when the required run rate was well over 10 RPO. With half the side back in the hut, Pooran played a blistering knock of 62(19) at an astronomical strike rate of 326. His registered a quickfire 50-run stand for the sixth wicket with Ayush Badoni in the space of 18 balls to turn the tide in their favour. In the end, LSG had enough legs to go over the line and snatched a final ball victory in an ecstatic fashion.

Match No.23: Gujarat Titans vs Rajasthan Royals

During this fixture between GT and RR, no one expected Royals to make such an astounding recovery. Shimron Hetmyer stole the limelight with his powerful strokeplay. With 125 runs needed in just 57 balls, hopes of a Royals win were dwindling rapidly. But Sanju Samson and Hetmyer had other ideas. The duo registered a blazing 50-run stand for the 5th wicket in the space of just 25 balls which immediately shifted the momentum in their favour. After Samson was dismissed, few big shots came from Jurel and Ashwin’s bats pushing them ever closer to a famous victory. In the end, it was Hetmyer, who hit the winning runs for his side and took them well over the line with 4 balls to spare.

IPL 2023_ Dhruv Jurel scored 15-ball 32 against Punjab as an impact player _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Jurel scored 15-ball 32 against Punjab as impact player (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

Impact Player: The underlying reason behind the close finishes

This revolutionary concept has surely been a game changer in the ongoing IPL edition. The rule has given teams a tactical advantage that allow them to make timely substitutions in accordance with the prevailing game situation. So, for instance, if a team suddenly finds itself in trouble and is looking for someone to bail them out then they can rope in an impact player at any point during the game and still be in the hunt. For instance, if a side batting second is chasing a huge total then they can drop a bowler and replace him with a prominent batter which can bolster their batting department. Similarly, if a team bowling second is required to defend a below par score, then they could get an additional bowler onboard in the form of an impact player, giving the fielding captain an array of bowling options to choose from.

In retrospect, teams are now equipped with additional bowlers/batters in their arsenal who can tip the scales in their team’s favour if the situation calls for it. Although the teams have 11 players on the field, but in reality they would effectively be playing with 12 players who would all actively be participating in delivering a positive outcome for their side.


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