From Yusuf Pathan to Hardik Pandya: Player of the Match in every IPL Final since 2008
The 15 editions of the IPL have witnessed some spectacular performances on the night of the final.
As the IPL 2022 reached near its conclusion, a question at the top of most fans' head was who would be the hero of the marquee final to be played on Sunday (May 29) in front of a jam-packed stadium in Ahmedabad.
Some would argue that was a thing of interest even greater than the winners of the coveted trophy among the table-toppers Gujarat Titans (GT) and a resurgent Rajasthan Royals (RR) side.
As that unveiled itself while the night progressed, we focus today on all the heroes of an IPL final, players who have bagged the 'Player of the Match' trophy in one of the calendar's most sought after fixtures.
Enlisted below in reverse are the names of the 'Player of the Match' award winners from each IPL final since the league's inaugural edition back in 2008.
IPL 2022 final, Player of the Match - Hardik Pandya
Dispelling doubts carried ahead of the season around his bowling fitness, Hardik Pandya delivered a spell for the ages in the IPL 2022 final. The Gujarat Titans (GT) skipper led his troops from the front with a spectacular outing with the ball, taking 3 for 17 off his 4 overs.
Hardik's terrific use of the hard lengths rocked the Rajasthan Royals (RR) batting unit as he bagged the prized scalps of Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer to help the Titans restrict the opposition to a manageable 130/9.
With the bat, too, the Titans leader rose to the occasion when his team needed him, producing a sensible knock of 34 off 30 balls. Hardik's knock allowed Titans to recover from initial stutters through the chase and eventually coast home with seven wickets intact.
Also Read: Indian Premier League: Every IPL final since 2008 - Teams, Winners, Runners-Up, Results and All you need to know
IPL 2021 final, Player of the Match - Faf du Plessis
At the age of 36, Faf du Plessis provided finishing touches to one of his most prolific IPL seasons with an impactful knock of 86 off 59 deliveries in the 2021 final last year in Dubai. The then Chennai Super Kings (CSK) opening batter helped his team clinch the coveted IPL trophy for the fourth time by defeating two-time winners Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 27 runs.
Du Plessis' knock pushed CSK to a gigantic score of 192/3, in response to which KKR could muster a total of only 165/9 on a good batting surface. The South African finished only two runs shy of wearing the 'Orange Cap' for the season.
IPL 2020 final, Player of the Match - Trent Boult
Reinforcing his status as one of the most lethal new-ball bowlers, Boult delivered a priceless spell of 3 for 30 for his former franchise Mumbai Indians (MI) on the night of the IPL 2020 final in Dubai.
The New Zealand left-arm quick rattled the Delhi Capitals (DC) by swinging the ball both ways inside the powerplay overs and taking crucial wickets up front.
Boult's spell went a long way in helping MI bag the silverware, as it restricted DC to a manageable score of 156/7, which they later chased down with ease.
IPL 2019 final, Player of the Match - Jasprit Bumrah
The final of the 2019 edition was the joint-closest in the league's history, with MI keeping arch-rivals CSK at bay by just 1 run. While Lasith Malinga's final-over expertise remain famous for snatching victory out of the hands of the opposition, it was the other of MI's ace quick who allowed his team to stay intact in the game when all hopes seemed gone.
As usual, the control and the precision with which Jasprit Bumrah bowled that night slipped under the radar a little bit and got lost in the shine of more prolific wicket-takers. But his 2 for 14 off 4 overs basically turned the chase into a contest for MI when they had only posted 149/8 in Hyderabad.
In one of the most tactically astute 'Player of the Match' awards given, Bumrah rightfully received the honour for his great spell on the tournament's biggest night.
IPL 2018 final, Player of the Match - Shane Watson
Shane Watson's 117 off just 57 balls in the 2018 final at the iconic Wankhede is still hailed as one of the greatest knocks played in the league's history. Not just for the incredible skill on display by the Australian veteran and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) stalwart, but also for his fantastic game awareness and the know-how to pick his moments and match-ups.
Watson struggled for the best part of his stay inside the powerplay overs but chose to give as much respect as he could to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) swing expert Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The right-hander led the tide roll against him and waited for his turn to unleash the beast, smashing the rest of the SRH bowlers - barring second threat, Rashid Khan - to all parts of the ground.
No one had a safe response to Watson's assault, as he bulldozed over SRH's weaklings on his way to 11 fours and 8 sixes to propel CSK to the 179-run target in the summit clash.
IPL 2017 final, Player of the Match - Krunal Pandya
The understated figure of Krunal Pandya had his most shining moment of glory in the 2017 final, which MI won by a solitary run against the now-disbanded Rising Pune Supergiant.
Walking in at No.5 with MI reeling at 41 for 3, Krunal produced a critical knock of 47 off 38 balls in an eventual team score of 129/8. He then produced a relatively tight spell of 0/31 off his 4 overs to help MI keep an inspired RPSG at bay.
IPL 2016 final, Player of the Match - Ben Cutting
This went to another critical allround performer in Australia's Ben Cutting, who made a telling difference for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their high-scoring encounter with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Cutting blasted an impactful cameo of 39* off 15 balls to push SRH to a score of 208/7. When SRH could easily have finished with a score of around 190, Cutting's pivotal little knock gave them a score of nearly 210, which made all the difference as the orange army defended their score by 8 runs.
On the bowling front, too, Cutting bowled a crucial spell, taking two wickets for 35 runs off his 4 overs. His two wickets were that of a dangerous Chris Gayle and the in-form KL Rahul.
IPL 2015 final, Player of the Match - Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma the IPL batter may have left much to be desired in terms of sheer consistency off his willow. But on the night of 2015 final, he rose to the occasion against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) with an important half-century - 50 off 26 balls - that took the game away from the opposition.
Rohit's innings propelled MI to a gigantic score of 202/5, which they later defended successfully by restricting CSK to 161/8. At the time, it was MI's second IPL title and their skipper played an influential role in the memorable win at his favourite Eden Gardens.
IPL 2014 final, Player of the Match - Manish Pandey
After becoming the first Indian to score an IPL hundred back in 2009, Manish had his second biggest triumph in the league after playing an instrumental hand in the 2014 final against the Punjab Kings (PBKS).
Walking in at No.3 in a stiff chase of 200 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Manish took the game back to the opposition with a terrific knock of 94 off 50 deliveries as he almost singlehandedly guided his team to the finish line.
The attacking right-hand batter missed out on a well deserved hundred but he would've been mighty pleased with his impactful knock that gave KKR only their second IPL title in league's history.
IPL 2013 final, Player of the Match - Kieron Pollard
Another final, another low-scoring game and another Mumbai Indians saviour. This time the protagonist was their veteran Caribbean allrounder Kieron Pollard, who made a telling difference at the Eden Gardens against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
In one of his most fruitful nights of the IPL ever, Pollard smashed an unbeaten 60 off 32 deliveries in a team score of 148/9, with the next highest individual score being 21 from Dinesh Karthik. MI went on to defend their score by 23 runs, keeping CSK down to just 125 in 20 overs.
IPL 2012 final, Player of the Match - Manvinder Bisla
The name of Manvinder Bisla reverberated around the cricket world for long after that night, as the lesser-known uncapped Indian batter produced an innings of his life time for Kolkata Knighot Riders (KKR) in the 2012 final.
Opening the innings, Bisla helped KKR overhaul a huge score of 190/3 set by the then two-time champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by smashing a pivotal knock of 89 off just 48 balls in the run-chase. His tally for the night included 8 fours and 5 sixes, going at a strike-rate of 185.41 under pressure.
Bisla helped KKR eat a giant portion of their stiff chase at his end, making the task significantly easier for his teammates against a star-studded CSK bowling attack, featuring four international bowlers.
IPL 2011 final, Player of the Match - Murali Vijay
Murali Vijay may have not ended among the IPL greats but he will always be remembered fondly among the CSK's giant fanbase for his role in helping the team win the 2011 title. The classy Indian batter produced a knock of 95 off just 52 balls to take the game completely away from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on a dry pitch.
Opening the innings, Vijay relished the powerplay restrictions to get himself set and went on to smash the RCB bowling unit to all parts of the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk. Vijay's assault, along with other useful contributions, helped CSK post a score of 205/5, which they later defended by a significant margin of 58 runs.
IPL 2010 final, Player of the Match - Suresh Raina
With CSK now standing as one of the most successful T20 teams in the world, it begs belief that the franchise had to wait three IPL seasons to bag their maiden trophy. And the hero of their first-ever IPL final victory was none other than their 'Chinna Thala Suresh Raina, IPL's greatest ever Indian batter and Indian cricket's first global T20 star.
Batting at No.3, Raina came out all guns blazing on the night against the Mumbai Indians, scoring an unbeaten 57 off 35 balls, including 3 fours and 3 sixes. The knock allowed CSK to post a fighting score of 168/5 on a relatively dry surface.
Later in the night, Raina made his presence felt on the bowling front, too, delivering a spell of 1/21 and playing his part in keeping MI down to 146/9 in their allotted 20 overs.
IPL 2009 final, Player of the Match - Anil Kumble
In the history of IPL, only once has a player from the losing finalist gone on to receive the 'Player of the Match' trophy for the biggest night. So good was India's spin great Anil Kumble for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Johannesburg that the commentators couldn't look past his valiant spell of 4/16 off 4 overs, even as his team lost the close-fought encounter to the now-disbanded Deccan Chargers.
Kumble delivered a spectacular spell, which featured the prized scalps of Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma and helped RCB restrict DC to what should've been a manageable score of 143/6. RCB still lost the game by 6 runs.
IPL 2008 final, Player of the Match - Yusuf Pathan
It took only a night for Yusuf Pathan to turn from just another cricketer from Baroda to a household name across India, as he lifted an IPL final's first-ever 'Player of the Match' trophy with a memorable allround performance for Rajasthan Royals (RR).
Pathan delivered a superb spell of 3 for 22 off his 4 overs of some gentle but effective off-spin bowling and backed that up with an amazing knock of 56 off 39 balls in the run-chase. As far as impactful performances go, this stays right up there among the finest to have been played in not just IPL but overall T20 history.