With the 14th edition of IPL 2021 resuming in the UAE after suspension due to the second wave of COVID-19 in the country, we take a look at some of the stunning knocks by batsmen in the first half of the league:
Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians), 87 not out off 34 balls
Known for his big-hitting prowess, Pollard had been disappointing with the bat in the first six games. He made only 81 runs, with his highest being an unbeaten 35 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. But on May 1, Pollard wreaked havoc on the Chennai Super Kings bowling attack in New Delhi. Chasing a mammoth 219 in 20 overs after a late blitz from CSK's Ambati Rayudu, Mumbai was reeling at 81/3 at half-way mark. Pollard rose to the occasion to smack an unbeaten 87 off just 34 balls to guide his side to a four-wicket victory in Delhi. He reached his fifty in just 17 balls, the fastest in the season. His blitzkrieg included six fours and eight sixes as Mumbai snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore) 76 off 34 balls
When AB gets going, there is no stopping him. Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai got a taste of it. At 91/3, Bangalore were in trouble. But de Villiers combined forces with Glenn Maxwell to produce a scintillating counter-attack. The South African completed his half-century off just 27 balls. He went on to score 76 runs off just 34 balls which included 9 fours and 3 sixes at an astounding strike rate of 223.53. The impact of his blistering knock was so big that it overshadowed the 78 made by Maxwell.
Devdutt Padikkal (Royal Challengers Bangalore) 101 not out in 52 balls
The stylish batsman broke onto the scene during his maiden IPL season in 2020, scoring 473 runs in 16 matches. Despite missing out on the opening game of IPL 2021 due to testing positive for COVID-19, Padikkal came in and took time to come into his groove until the match against Rajasthan Royals. Set a target of 178 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Padikkal brought up his maiden IPL century to take Bangalore to a comprehensive 10-wicket win. His unbeaten knock of 101 off 52 balls laced with 11 fours and six sixes was easy on the eye. He shone the brightest ahead of his captain and opening partner Virat Kohli, who scored a 42-ball 72.
Sanju Samson (Rajasthan Royals) 119 runs in 63 balls
The Rajasthan Royals skipper did what he does the best; begin the league on a high. In the fourth match of IPL 2021, Samson smashed 119 off 63 balls against Punjab Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. After Punjab Kings posted a massive 221/6 in 20 overs, Rajasthan struggled to get going. Samson continued to hold one end while he was running out of partners from the other end. The Kerala batsman took the bowlers to the cleaners and kept his side in the reckoning till the very end. Samson hit 12 fours and 7 sixes during his sensational knock but failed to take his team over the line, falling on the final ball of the chase as Rajasthan fell short by 4 runs.
Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals) 124 off 64 balls
A vital cog in the wheel for Rajasthan, Buttler's early form was a concern. He hadn't crossed the 50-run mark in the first six games. But the England vice-captain made amends for all the shortcomings against Sunrisers Hyderabad in New Delhi. He rode his luck to notch up a magnificent 124, his first in the T20s, laced with 11 fours and eight sixes. He moved from 50 to 100 in just 16 balls in an incredible shift of gears. Buttler hammered 89 runs off his last 31 balls, propelling RR to a daunting 220 and eventually securing a 55-run win over Hyderabad. With him unavailable for the second half of the IPL, it can be said that Buttler saved his best for the last in the first half of IPL 2021.