Power hitters have made the format their own. From clubbing the ball across the park in the powerplay overs to whacking it fearlessly in the death, batsmen have produced some absolute masterclasses over the years in T20 cricket. And the same thing can definitely also be said about the Indian Premier League (IPL) — arguably the best version of franchise T20 cricket around the world.
The tournament over the past 12 editions has produced some mind-boggling batting performances that have entertained fans across the world. Although, scoring an individual century is the highest peak that every batsman wants to scale, even in T20 cricket, half centuries in the shortest format of the game are seen as big milestones. In some cases, if it’s their day, batsmen come out all guns blazing to score fifties in double quick time.
TimesofIndia.com here takes a look at the batsmen with the fastest fifties (by balls faced) in the IPL over the past 12 editions.
KL Rahul (2018) – 14 balls
One of the most dynamic batsmen in world cricket at the moment, KL Rahul has been a showstopper in the IPL. With his majestic striking abilities and a wide array of shots, Rahul has been amongst the top batsmen in the tournament. And the now 28-year-old has time and again proved his batting prowess, single-handedly winning games for his team. One such instance when Rahul went completely berserk with the bat was in 2018 when he cracked a 14-ball fifty for Kings XI Punjab against Delhi Capitals in Mohali. It was the second match of the 2018 edition and Rahul set the stage on fire, smoking the fastest fifty ever in IPL. Chasing a target of 167, the opener went into carnage mode against the DC bowlers from the word go, hitting them all over the park. With a strike rate of over 318, Rahul clubbed 6 fours and 4 sixes during his breath-taking knock. Before getting out on 51, Rahul, in the chase, set the perfect platform for his team, helping them eventually win the match with 7 balls to spare. The right-hander was rightfully adjudged Man of the Match for his blitz in that clash.
Yusuf Pathan (2014) and Sunil Narine (2017) – 15 balls
Two of the most unpredictable and destructive T20 batsmen Yusuf Pathan and Sunil Narine have had their bad days in the IPL with the bat. But when it’s their day, they can make any opposition suffer. Yusuf and Narine are joint second on the list of batsmen with fastest fifties in the IPL (15 balls). While Yusuf (playing for Kolkata Knight Riders) went after the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers in 2014, Narine attacked the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers in 2017. Chasing a tricky total of 161, Yusuf in that match (2014) against SRH came in at No.4 and took the game away from the opposition in no time at the Eden Gardens. With a total of 5 fours and 7 sixes, Yusuf scored a scintillating 72 off 22 balls at a strike rate of over 328, helping his team get across the finish line with 34 balls to spare. Narine, on the other hand, demolished RCB in their own backyard, scoring a quick-fire fifty, right at the start of a 159-run chase. With 6 fours and 4 sixes, Narine’s 54 off 17 balls provided the perfect start for KKR in the chase, helping the visitors win the match comfortably with 29 balls and six wickets remaining.
Suresh Raina (2014) – 16 balls
There have been very few matches in the history of IPL when a batsman, in great hitting zone and form has just fallen short of taking his side across the victory line. One such nail-biter was played in 2014 between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, when Suresh Raina played the knock of his life, but fell just before CSK could cross the finish line. Chasing a daunting 227 for victory in a high pressure Qualifier 2 game, Raina took off from the word go, taking the Punjab bowlers to the cleaners. Raina got to his fifty off just 16 balls — the third fastest in the tournament — and continued the carnage to score 87 off just 25 balls, before getting run out. During his 37-minute stay at the crease, Raina smoked 12 fours and 6 sixes at a strike rate of 348 before suffering the heart-breaking dismissal. His side continued to fight on, but eventually fell short by 25 runs. But alsong with Virender Sehwag’s 122 off 58 in the same game, the match is remembered for Raina’s stupendous effort with the bat, displaying a masterclass in one of the most tense chases ever in the IPL.
Kieron Pollard (2016), Chris Gaye (2013), Sunil Narine (2018), Hardik Pandya (2019), Adam Gilchrist (2009), Ishan Kishan (2018), Chris Morris (2016) – 17 balls
Quick-fire knocks by batsmen have always been the need of the hour for teams in the IPL. With batsmen chipping in with quick cameos, it not only helps the team score big but also eases the pressure for the rest of the team. Over the past 12 editions, the IPL has seen quite a few fifties that have been scored in no time, single-handedly changing the course of games. A total of seven batsmen, on different occasions have scored fifties in just 17 balls with most of them going on to score big. And they are tied in fourth place on this list. Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians in 2016 vs Kolkata Knight Riders), Chris Gaye (Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2013 vs Pune Warriors), Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders in 2018 vs Royal Challengers Bangalore), Hardik Pandya (Mumbai Indians in 2019 vs Kolkata Knight Riders), Adam Gilchrist (Deccan Chargers in 2009 vs Delhi Capitals), Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians in 2018 vs Kolkata Knight Riders), Chris Morris (Delhi Capitals in 2016 vs Gujarat Lions) over the years have scored fifties off 17 balls, heavily tilting the odds in favour of their teams.
Rishabh Pant (2019) and Jos Buttler (2018) – 18 balls
Rishabh Pant (Delhi Capitals) and Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals) have been making rapid strides for their respective franchises in recent times. While Pant has emerged as a wonder kid, Buttler as an Englishman has brought his destructive skills to the IPL and showcased them in grand style. Both of them, on quite a few occasions have played brisk innings, lifting their teams towards crucial wins. Both the batsmen have emerged as power-hitters, just not caring about the reputation of the bowler at the other end and backing their abilities to cleanly strike the ball. Both Pant and Buttler have scored 18-ball fifties and are joint fifth on the list of batsmen with fastest fifties in the competition. While Pant whacked Mumbai Indians’ bowlers all around the park in 2019 at the Wankhede Stadium to score his quickest fifty, Buttler took on the Delhi Capitals bowlers to score his fifty off 18 balls in 2018, which incidentally was his first year with the Rajasthan Royals.