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Feature

The not-a-no-ball to Kohli, Starc's beauty, and a Bumrah toe-crusher

ESPNcricinfo's writers pick their favourite balls of IPL 2024

Abhishek Sharma is bowled by Mitchell Starc , Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2024 final, Chennai, May 26, 2024

Mitchell Starc bowled Abhishek Sharma with a beauty in the IPL final  •  BCCI

By Sidharth Monga
When you play for as long as Mitchell Starc has, and you are the kind of bowler he is - full, fast, direct - there is bound to be a highlights reel of damaged stumps long enough for a web-series episode. You could narrow it down to the first blows of big matches, and you will still have enough. The yorker to Brendon McCullum in the first over of the 2015 World Cup final at a packed MCG is difficult to beat for an occasion, but the ball to dismiss Abhishek Sharma in the IPL final was a better delivery. It angled into the pads, pitched on leg, swung late and seamed a touch, squared up the left-hand batter, went past the outside edge and took the top of off. The length was just perfect: full enough to hit the highest part of the wicket, but still not something you stride forward to.
By Alagappan Muthu
Jasprit Bumrah bowled 56 yorkers in IPL 2024. Twenty more than the second highest. He took seven wickets with them. Four more than the next best. Six of them were clean bowled. Each of them too good for the batter to lay anything on it. Because they're fast. They're accurate. They swing. They dip. They might even be sentient. Prithvi Shaw had to deal with one and even though he was batting on 66 off 39, he was no match. His first line of defence - the bat - couldn't come down in time. Shaw thought it could and had moved his second line of defence - his feet - out of the way. Now there was nothing protecting his stumps. Bumrah's combination of pace, precision and movement had essentially made a human being disappear.
By Karthik Krishnaswamy
It definitely wasn't a contender for the ball of the season, but Virat Kohli c & b Harshit Rana was hugely illustrative of where cricket at the top level is headed, for better or worse. A slower ball slipped out of Rana's hand and ended up as a high full-toss angling into the batter's body. Kohli, completely thrown by the ball's unexpected trajectory, popped back a return catch, and there was no immediate celebration from Rana, because he seemed fairly certain this would end up as no-ball on height.
So too was Kohli, when he called for a review of the on-field decision that this was a fair delivery. Kohli would probably have got to continue his innings in any other season, but IPL 2024 has made a giant leap towards eliminating subjectivity from umpiring. Is that a good thing? Who knows. On the day, the third umpire made his decision based on two numbers: ball-tracking said the ball would have been 0.92m above the ground if it had reached the point of the crease, and Kohli's waist, measured before the start of the season, was 1.04m above ground level.