The 2023 Indian Premier League will probably go down as one of the most entertaining editions of the competition. It felt like every game went down to the wire. Even the fight for the final playoff spot came down to the last day of the group stage, while the final itself was decided by the last ball of the entire competition.
Not a lot can rival the drama of matches being decided right at the death. Except, perhaps, a miracle comeback. A team completely written off in a game clawing their way back to victory.
And now, with our Live Win Predictor model – which updates after every single delivery – we can actually put a number on just how improbable some of the IPL’s turnarounds were this season.
Let’s take a look at the five biggest comebacks of the IPL in 2023.
5. Lucknow Super Giants (vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Lowest win probability for eventual winners: 1.4%
Losing the toss and being put into bat, Royal Challengers Bangalore had their work cut out in what was set to be a run fest at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. But the hosts made the most of their opportunity. All of RCB’s top three batters in Virat Kohli (61), Faf du Plessis (79*) and Glenn Maxwell (59) scored fifties – just the fifth time that’s happened in IPL history – to set up a huge score of 212/2.
Lucknow Super Giants’ chase started poorly. Their enforcer at the top, Kyle Mayers, was sent packing in the opening over by Mohammed Siraj. Both Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya perished quickly inside the powerplay against Wayne Parnell, while KL Rahul was also struggling to find his groove. After 6.4 overs, the Super Giants were wobbling at 41/3, as the required rate climbed to over 13 an over. At that point in the game, LSG only had a 1.4% chance of emerging victorious.
That’s when Marcus Stoinis began the fight back. Lucknow progressed to 91/3 from 10 overs, with the Australian accounting for 46 of those runs. Stoinis finished with 65 off 30 balls but even his dismissal at the hands of Karn Sharma didn’t halt the flow of runs as Nicholas Pooran ended that same over with a six.
KL Rahul eventually struggled and got out, but Pooran nearly finished the job himself with a swashbuckling innings. The West Indian hit seven sixes and four boundaries to smash 62 off 19 balls at a whopping strike rate of 326. He was dismissed with Lucknow needing 24 in three overs.
RCB tried to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the slog overs and eventually dragged the game to the last ball. But a missed Mankad attempt by Harshal Patel and then a fumbled run out opportunity by Dinesh Karthik saw the pair of Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi scamper home for the winning run, with Lucknow winning by a solitary wicket.
4. Sunrisers Hyderabad (vs. Rajasthan Royals)
Lowest win probability for eventual winners: 1.3%
With just three wins from nine games (L6), Sunrisers Hyderabad took on Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur in a game where the hosts also needed to rediscover their mojo. Rajasthan won the toss and decided to put runs on the board. Buoyed by the performance of their top order, including a season-best 95 from Jos Buttler and 66 from captain Sanju Samson, the Royals posted a mammoth 214/2.
The Sunrisers’ top three also managed to find some rhythm, but arguably not at the pace they would have wanted. Abhishek Sharma scored 55 off 34 balls and Rahul Tripathi knocked a few sixes out of the park to keep the momentum going. Heinrich Klaasen then came in and scored a quickfire 26 off 12 as Hyderabad kept in touch with the asking rate.
SRH were 171/3 after 17 overs and, with wickets to spare, had a serious shot at winning the game.
That’s when Yuzvendra Chahal bowled the best over of his spell, picking up the wickets of Tripathi and Aiden Markram while conceding just three runs. The balance of play completely flipped on its head and Hyderabad needed 41 to win off two overs with two new batters at the crease.
Their probability of winning at that moment? 1.3%.
But up stepped power hitter Glenn Phillips who produced a cameo for the ages. He hit Kuldip Yadav for three straight sixes and a four, before holing out to Shimron Hetmyer in the deep. Phillips ended with 25 off seven balls.
The onus was on Abdul Samad to take the visitors across the finish line, as Hyderabad needed 17 off the last over.
Samad responded in terrific fashion, stealing a couple of twos before launching a six off Sandeep Sharma’s bowling to bring the equation down to seven off three. Sharma fought back, executing two good yorkers that yielded just two runs.
With five needed off what was meant to be the last ball, Rajasthan seemed to have won the game when Samad was caught at long off. But the hosts’ ecstasy was brutally cut short as the umpire signaled a no-ball.
Samad did not miss a second time, sending the ball to the boundary on the subsequent free-hit as Sunrisers Hyderabad completed their highest successful chase in IPL history.
3. Rajasthan Royals (vs. Gujarat Titans)
Lowest win probability for eventual winners: 0.4%
Having come off their first home defeat of the season, the Gujarat Titans hosted the in-form Rajasthan Royals in their fifth game of the campaign. Royals’ captain Sanju Samson won the toss and chose to bowl, despite his team’s only loss at the point having come from batting second.
The decision seemed to pay instant dividends as Trent Boult picked up his 20th opening-over wicket in the IPL (now at 22), dismissing opener Wriddhiman Saha in rather amusing fashion. Youngster Sai Sudarshan (20 off 19 balls) and captain Hardik Pandya (28 off 19 balls) added valuable contributions, while making sure Shubman Gill had a platform to attack. Gill ended up with 45 and his final partner for the night – David Miller (46 runs) – rose to the occasion as well.
The Rajasthan Royals had to chase a target of 178. Not the most daunting task, providing they got off to a decent start.
But that’s exactly where things went wrong for the Royals as they stumbled to a season-low 26 runs off the powerplay.
Hardik picked up his first wicket of the season by dismissing Yashasvi Jaiswal in the second over, and Jos Buttler was sent back to the stands for a duck by Mohammed Shami in the next. The situation looked bleak for Rajasthan, but their Impact Player Devdutt Padikkal held firm to bring some control back to the scoreboard, chalking up a 43-run partnership with Samson, before eventually perishing.
The Titans were quick to take another wicket, putting the brakes on the Royals yet again.
At 66-4 off 12.1 overs, the Royals hit their lowest win prediction rate: 0.4%.
Samson seemed to intuitively realise that it was the right moment to go after the game, and with a barrage of three consecutive sixes off Rashid Khan, changed the tone of the match.
Hetmyer was quick to join the party as well, and the Royals kept inching closer. Samson eventually fell in the 15th over for 60. but Hetmyer (56 not out from 26 balls) knocked the rest of the runs off, finishing with a strike rate of 215.4 – the second highest by any RR batter (Buttler – 245.5) – in a 50-plus knock this season.
2. Gujarat Titans (vs. Lucknow Super Giants)
Lowest win probability for eventual winners: 0.3%
Seldom have teams lost from such a comfortable position while batting in the modern era as Lucknow Super Giants did in this game. The visitors and eventual finalists Gujarat Titans won the toss and opted to bat first on a slow turning pitch in Lucknow.
Looking at the pitch, skipper KL Rahul handed the ball to his spinners to bowl three of the six powerplay overs. The move quickly paid off with Krunal Pandya removing opener Shubman Gill inside the first eight balls of the game. Expecting the batting surface to be tricky, Titans skipper Hardik Pandya promoted himself to number three and, although the visitors didn’t lose any more wickets during the mandatory field restriction overs, their total of 40/1 was their lowest in the powerplay up until that point and eventually their second lowest of the season.
The duo of Hardik and Wriddhiman Saha stitched together a 68-run partnership and when Krunal dismissed Saha for 47, the score read 72/2 after 10.3 overs. It wasn’t a great amount at the halfway stage, but not disastrous either. However, a flurry of wickets later and the defending champions limped to just 135/6 from their allocation.
In reply, Lucknow openers Rahul and Kyle Mayers provided a solid platform for the hosts to chase down the total, putting on 53 runs for the loss of no wickets inside the powerplay. Mayers departed in the seventh over with the score reading 55/1, but Krunal, who’d had a wonderful game with the ball, joined his skipper in the middle and the duo put on a further 51-run partnership before the latter lost his wicket in the 15th over. Indeed, such was the dominance of the hosts that after 12.4 overs LSG were 98/1, and Gujarat’s win percentage was as low as 0.3%.
After losing Krunal with Lucknow still needing 31 off 36 deliveries, Rahul – who had just registered his 35th knock of 50+ in the IPL – took a cautious approach, trying to ensure he remained at the crease to finish the game. But his move backfired, and with every dot ball that passed the pressure kept mounting on the Super Giants. With other batters losing their wickets cheaply, LSG now needed 12 runs in six balls with seven wickets remaining.
Mohit Sharma effectively secured the victory for Gujarat by dismissing Rahul and Marcus Stoinis on the second and third deliveries of the final over. With 10 runs needed from three balls, Ayush Badoni and Deepak Hooda were both run out while attempting ambitious second runs and a dot ball from the last delivery ultimately sealed the win for the Titans.
1. Kolkata Knight Riders (vs. Gujarat Titans)
Lowest win probability for eventual winners: 0.1%
Here we go then. Arguably one of the greatest T20 games ever, this match ultimately saw a side win who were given just a 0.1% chance of doing so at the start of the final over of the game.
Sai Sudharsan and Vijay Shankar powered the Titans to a massive total of 204/4 after Rashid Khan won the toss and elected to bat. While Sudharsan smashed a 38-ball 53, Shankar scored an unbeaten 63 from 24 deliveries, including 4 fours and 5 sixes. This was Gujarat’s highest total of the tournament at the time and the first game in which they’d gone past 200.
In reply, KKR used their third opening pair of the season with Rahmanullah Gurbaz partnering Narayan Jagadeesan at the top of the order. The experiment didn’t work as Mohammed Shami and Joshua Little removed both inside four overs with just 28 on the board. However, Venkatesh Iyer (83) and Nitish Rana (45) put on an explosive 100-run partnership to keep the two-time champions alive.
Knight Riders were in a promising position with 77 runs required from the remaining seven overs, but Alzarri Joseph’s impactful double strike, dismissing both well-established batsmen, shifted the momentum in favour of the Titans.
With Kolkata needing 50 from the last four overs and Andre Russell in the middle, skipper Rashid brought himself back into the contest despite conceding 34 runs in his first three overs. It proved to be a genius decision, with the leg-spinner dismissing Russell instantly. Sunil Narine was then caught at deep midwicket off the next delivery, while Shardul Thakur was given out LBW from the third. Remarkably, Rashid had his fourth hat trick in T20 cricket, a total higher than anyone else in T20 history.
Rashid’s hat trick had ripped the heart out of the Knight Riders’ chase. With KKR needing 39 off nine deliveries, their win probability stood at a minuscule 0.1%.
But Rinku Singh had other plans, striding in and striking the last two balls of the penultimate over for a six and a four.
Requiring 29 runs from the final over, Umesh Yadav managed to secure a single off Yash Dayal’s opening delivery.
28 runs off five balls needed.
And then Rinku unleashed an extraordinary display of power hitting by launching five consecutive sixes to win the game. In doing so, Rinku became just the fourth batter after Chris Gayle, Rahul Tewatia and Ravindra Jadeja to hit five sixes in a single over in an IPL game.
The 29 runs successfully chased down by KKR in the final over is highest target ever chased by a team in the last over of an IPL game.
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