Sampath Bandarupalli is a statistician at ESPNcricinfo
Cometh the knockouts, every team looks for an unlikely hero in realising their title dream. There have been instances where the local talents step up and even outplay the proven performers on their day. Nearly every IPL season has seen at least one uncapped player produce a match-winning performance in the playoffs. We look at five of the most notable such contributions in the IPL playoffs.
Manvinder Bisla - 89 (48) vs Chennai Super Kings, 2012
Kolkata Knight Riders faced a selection dilemma ahead of the 2012 final against the Chennai Super Kings. With L Balaji injured after the qualifier, Knight Riders decided to bring in Brett Lee while Manvinder Bisla replaced Brendon McCullum. Bisla played six matches in the first half of the league stage but featured only once after that.
He opened the batting with Gautam Gambhir in pursuit of a 191-run target for their maiden title. Gambhir was the second-highest run-getter of the tournament but was dismissed in the first over, making it a difficult chase for Knight Riders. Bisla stepped into the aggressor role, scoring 40 off 21 in the powerplay. He continued to take risks post the powerplay and brought up a fifty off 27 balls.
Bisla and Jacques Kallis added 136 runs for the second wicket in just 13.4 overs, of which Bisla alone scored 88. He got out to a slower delivery off Albie Morkel in the 15th over after scoring a 48-ball 89 with eight fours and five sixes. Knight Riders still needed 52 off 32 balls, which they reached with two balls to spare, denying a hat-trick of titles for Super Kings.
Manish Pandey - 94 (50) vs Kings XI Punjab, 2014
Knight Riders needed 200 runs to win the 2014 final against Kings XI Punjab in Bengaluru and claim their second title in three years. But they were jolted by an early blow with Robin Uthappa getting out in the first over. He had scored 40-plus runs in each of his previous ten innings, helping Knight Riders to reach the final despite an ordinary first half.
The onus was on the local boy Manish Pandey to drive the chase. He had a middling season before the final, scoring only one fifty in 15 innings. Pandey started his innings with a boundary on the first ball and went on to bring up his fifty off 31 balls. His 71-run partnership off 7.2 overs with Yusuf Pathan cut the required rate below 11.
Pandey targeted Karanveer Singh and Parvinder Awana, against whom he collectively scored 70 off just 29 balls. He eventually fell to Karanveer in the 17th over after scoring a 50-ball 94. Pandey's dismissal left the Knight Riders needing 21 runs from three overs, with four wickets in hand. They got to the target when Piyush Chawal hit the winning runs with three balls to spare.
Bipul Sharma - Sunrisers Hyderabad, 2016
In a pace-dominant line-up of Sunrisers Hyderabad, Bipul Sharma not only filled the void of a spinner, but also provided valuable contributions with the bat down the order. He made his mark in all the three playoff games in that season as Sunrisers marched towards the title. In the Eliminator against Knight Riders, he hit two sixes off Morne Morkel in the 20th over, pushing Sunrisers to a match-winning total of 162.
Bipul's all-round performance in the qualifier against Gujarat Lions was critical in Sunrisers' win, where he picked the wicket of Brendon McCullum in the 12th over. He later walked to bat at No.8 when Sunrisers needed 46 from 25 balls. David Warner was struggling to find support while he alone scored 74 in the team's total of 117. Bipul's arrival eased the pressure as he struck three sixes in the 11 balls faced, scoring an unbeaten 27 and taking them over the line with four balls to spare.
In a high-scoring final in Bengaluru, the home side Royal Challengers stood a great chance to win the title, needing 68 off seven overs with eight wickets in hand. Bipul deceived AB de Villiers on the fifth ball of the 14th over, which turned out to be a decisive wicket for Royal Challengers, who fell nine runs short of the target.
Krunal Pandya - 47 (38) and 0/31 vs Rising Pune Super Giant, 2017
Mumbai Indians topped the points table in the 2017 season but lost both their league phase games against the Rising Pune Super Giants, against whom they also lost in the first qualifier. Super Giants looked all set to make it 4-0 against Mumbai, having reduced them to 79 for 7 by the 15th over.
But Krunal Pandya added 50 for the eighth wicket with Mitchell Johnson off 35 balls. The last three overs alone yielded 37 runs as Mumbai finished with 129 for 8. Krunal was dismissed on the last ball of the innings, scoring a 38-ball 47, with three fours and two sixes.
Krunal, who later opened the bowling, gave only 17 runs in his first three overs while being denied a caught-behind dismissal of Steve Smith. His fourth over cost 14 runs, but Mumbai won the title by one run, despite a fighting fifty from Smith.
Rajat Patidar - 112* (54) vs Lucknow Super Giants, 2022
Rajat Patidar was not part of any team in IPL 2022 until a week into the tournament. But he returned to his franchise for the 2021 season, Royal Challengers Bangalore, as a replacement for Luvnith Sisodia. Two months down the lane, he is the reason behind his team's existence in the title race. Against a quality bowling attack of Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator, Patidar struck an unbeaten hundred, scoring 112 off just 54 balls with 19 boundaries.
Without his effort, Royal Challengers would have been nowhere near to the 207, after the trio of Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, and Glenn Maxwell contributed only 34 off 35 balls. Patidar got to his fifty in 28 balls and took only 21 balls for the second fifty.
Patidar was particularly critical of the spinners, smashing Krunal Pandya and Ravi Bishnoi for 58 off 22 balls, with six fours and four sixes. He and Dinesh Karthik added 84 runs in the final five overs. Super Giants fell 15 runs short of the target, scoring only 50 runs in the same five-over period.
Washington Sundar - 3 for 16 (4) vs Mumbai Indians, 2017
Pragyan Ojha - 3 for 28 (4) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2009
Suryakumar Yadav - 71* (54) vs Chennai Super Kings, 2019
Saurabh Tiwary - 52* (31) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2010