The tension of the last over of an IPL match can be extreme. Here we consider some of the best bowling performances in the final over to defend the lowest number of runs needed for the opposition to win the game.
Below are examples of the teams and bowlers who have defended the least runs in the last over of an IPL match and the stories behind some of the best finishes to an IPL game.
Rajasthan Royals defend 4 runs in the last over vs Mumbai Indians, 2008
Whether you put this one down to great bowling or just a complete brain fade on the part of the batting team is debatable. Mumbai Indians needed just 4 runs to win off the final over with 3 wickets in hand but ended up be bowling out 2 runs short of their target.
Munaf Patel was the hero with the ball and he managed to build pressure immediately by sending down a dot ball first up. Munaf folled that with a full straight delivery the caught the hapless Dhawal Kulkarni plumb in front of his stumps and suddenly the equation was from the last 4 balls.
One thing still in Mumbai’s favour was that Harbhajan Singh, a man with 2 Test Match centuries to his name, was still at the crease and provided they could get him on strike there was no reason to believe that they wouldn’t be able to close out the game in the last over. However, Chetanya Nanda was run out from the next ball attempting to do just that and Harbhajan could only pinch a single from the 4th ball to leave Mumbai needing 3 runs from the final 2 deliveries . Lasith Malinga was the last man and he could only hit his first ball to cover before setting off for a suicidal single.
Rajasthan completed victory and in the process successfully defended the lowest number of runs in the last over. You can find the full scorecard here
Rajasthan Royals defend 4 runs in the last over vs Punjab Kings, 2021
11 years later and young Kartik Tyagi helped Rajasthan equal their own IPL record by again defending just 4 runs off the final over, this time against Punjab Kings.
PBKS had been seemingly cruising towards victory when openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal put on a first wicket partnership of 120 at 10 an over in pursuit of the Royal’s 185. Despite both men falling in quick succession Nicolas Pooran and Aiden Markam came together to steady the ship in a 50 run partnership of their own that got Kings to within touching distance of a much needed win in the hunt for a playoff spot.
However, if you know your IPL history, you’d know never to right off Rajasthan when it comes to defending runs in the final over of a match!
Tyagi sent down a dot first ball and then conceded a single to Markram who tried to end proceedings with a big hack to the 2nd ball of the over but only succeeded in skewing it out to square leg. That brought Pooran on strike and he was caught behind looking to run the ball down to third man.
Suddenly the equation was 3 from 3 balls and with a new batsman (Deepak Hooda) on strike the PBKS bench were starting to get a bit nervy. A full wide ball from Tyagi was adjudged to be a legal delivery on the basis of Hooda moving across his crease and when Tyagi tried the same trick next ball Hooda had a big swipe and only succeeded in edging behind to leave Punjab needing 3 from the final ball.
Fabian Allen strode to the crease with Tyagi going full and wide again but the West Indian could only connect with thin air. The Royals had done it again in a the final over of an IPL match!
View the scorecard of the equal fewest number of runs defended in the last over of an IPL match here
Rajasthan Royals defend 6 runs in the last over vs Deccan Chargers, 2010
Rajasthan were at it again, defending just six runs in the final over of this IPL game against the Deccan Chargers. In general, the game saw one of the best comebacks in the history of the IPL as Shane Warne took 4 wickets to drag his side back into it. Still with Rohit Sharma at the crease, a man renowned for finishing games in style in the final over, Deccan were very much favourites to win as they entered the last over needing a run a ball for victory.
With Rohit on strike it was a strange and ultimately costly decision for him to take a single off the first ball leaving tailender RP Singh in the firing line. A wide and a dot ball later, the pressure of the last over finally told and Singh had a big heave succeeding only in skewing the ball high in to the air with Morne Morkel taking an excellent catch running back from mid-on.
Rohit was at least able to get back on strike but he could only swipe a full toss to square leg. He and Harmeet opted to run and when the shy at the stumps came in and missed Rohit called his man through for a 2nd. However, young Harmeet was slow to respond and ended up being run out by a country mile at the non-strikers end. A big debate then erupted over whether the batsmen had indeed crossed but ultimately it didn’t make any difference as Rohit slapped the penultimate ball of the match down deep extra cover’s throat.
Rajasthan defended the 2nd lowest number of runs in the last over and completed a team hattrick in the process while Deccan Chargers were guilty of one of the biggest chokes of all time in the IPL. Watch the highlights from the epic final over here.
Other notable instances of teams defending very few runs in the final over of an IPL match
There are a whole host of teams who have defended 9 runs from the final over of an IPL game which would sit them all equal fourth on the list of the lowest score defended in the last over of an IPL match but perhaps the most famous example occurred in the 2019 final where Lasith Malinga claimed the wicket of Shardul Thakar off the very last ball of the innings to deliver another title to Mumbai Indians. Malinga’s achievement was even more significant when you consider that he had given away 42 runs off his initial 3 overs and (baring an unlikely comeback) it was to be the very last over that Malinga, the all time purple cap holder at the time of his retirement, would bowl in the IPL.
You can watch highlights of one the most thrilling conclusions to an IPL final ever here