In the 12 seasons of the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL), there have been 58 centuries smashed by batsmen. That is close to 5 centuries a season, on average. Of these, 6 of them were secured by Royals batsmen. There is a synchronised sequence to all the 6 scores – 100, 101, 102*, 103*, 104* & 105*. Who knows, we may see a 106 next, or perhaps the sequence could be broken in the coming seasons. There is a fair amount of time for that though. Let’s relive all these special knocks, one-by-one in a chronological order.
Yusuf Pathan: 100 vs MI, Brabourne Stadium – 2010
Presenting the second fastest IPL century… Yusuf Pathan was the big-hitter all of India were proud of. Pathan was in prime form in the early years of the IPL as a Rajasthan Royals all-rounder. In a game where we were set a mammoth target of 213, Yusuf Pathan walked in with the chase tottering at 40/3 in 6.3 overs. The run-rate was just inching above 6 an over.
Once he walked in, it was a Yusuf Pathan show. The ball vanished to all corners of the stadium as he smashed 9 fours and 8 sixes. The savage knock got us in sights of a possible victory. He smashed three consecutive sixes off Ali Mortaza in the 11rh over and then unleashed some brute force over R Sathish with three fours and two sixes. He got to his fifty off 21 balls. He got to his century with a thunderous smack over long on for a biggie. It took him just 37 balls to get there. Sadly, Pathan was run out on the following delivery and we lost the game by four runs. The century also happened to be just the second by an Indian player in the IPL.
Ajinkya Rahane: 103* vs RCB, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium – 2012
If Pathan’s knock was about muscle power, Ajinkya Rahane’s was all about sweet timing. 2012 was the coming of age for Rahane the T20 player. He caressed his very first ball through point for a pristine boundary. Then came a maiden over that Rahane had to negate off Zaheer Khan. That didn’t deter him as Rahane got into an attacking mood soon after.
Yuvraj Singh and Herschelle Gibbs are remembered for smashing 6 sixes in an over, but Rahane was having his share of fun as he toyed with Sreenath Aravind, cracking 6 consecutive boundaries in the 14th over. Straight, straight, fine leg, mid-wicket, cover & third man – these are where the 6 balls disappeared courtesy some gorgeous strokeplay. Rahane was unbeaten in his 90s when the final over of the innings got underway. He smashed two boundaries to score the first ton of the 2012 IPL and his first in the league. The innings was a masterclass in pacing a T20 knock. He hit 12 fours and 5 sixes in his unbeaten 103.
Shane Watson: 101 vs CSK, MA Chidambaram Stadium – 2013
It was only a matter of time before Shane Watson got his first-of-many IPL centuries. It came in the sixth edition of the league against CSK at their home-ground. Watson is the only batsman from an away team to score a century at the Chepauk, and one of just 4 overall to score one there. Watto started the innings with a gift on his pads, that he whacked for four. He picked off a boundary or a six off almost every over after settling in.
Watson took calculated risks until the death overs came along. He then tonked Jadeja for two quality strikes beyond the fence in the 17th over. He soared into the 90s in no time and got to the three-figure mark with a nudge for a couple. Unfortunately, he got out on the next ball, caught at cover. Throughout the knock, Watson had to do a lot of running in the Chennai heat, but he smashed 6 fours and sixes each along the way too.
Shane Watson: 104* vs KKR, Brabourne Stadium – 2015
Mumbai saw its second Royals century; only this time, Brabourne Stadium was our home-ground. At the start of his innings, Watson was cautious against good balls, but the moment he spotted a loose one, he was severe enough to punish them duly. He got to his fifty off 31 balls.
Some wickets fell soon after Watson crossed 50. He had to take the onus of playing a finisher’s role on himself. He continued to pepper KKR’s bowling attack, picking off crucial boundaries and sixes in the final few overs. Some of the sixes went into the higher tiers of the stadium, such was the timing and power of the man that evening. On the first ball of the final over, Watto got to his second century of the IPL with a boundary to third man. While his first hundred went in a losing cause, this one didn’t. Rajasthan Royals won the game by 8 runs.
Sanju Samson: 102* vs SRH, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium – 2019
You must have seen this phrase on multiple occasions to describe this audacious knock, and we can’t help but use it again – Poetry in motion. Sanju Samson gave everyone a treat in Hyderabad with a century that will be remembered for years to come. Samson didn’t waste much time against a quality bowling attack; he started off with a boundary off the very first ball he faced, off Rashid Khan. After pelting a few balls into the stands, Samson got to his fifty off 34 balls.
After a few calm overs at the crease, the stylish batsman took the attack to SRH’s most experienced bowler, Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Samson smashed him for 24 runs in the 18th over, picking up 4 fours and a six in it. He got to the magical mark in the final over, after thumping another boundary off Kumar. This was Sanju’s second century in the IPL. He stayed right till the end, helping Rajasthan Royals get close to the 200-mark.
Ajinkya Rahane: 105* vs DC, Sawai Mansingh Stadium – 2019
The last of the Royals hundreds also happens to be the highest by anyone in our jersey. Fittingly, it had to be Ajinkya Rahane who is our top run-getter as well. Under pressure, Ajinkya Rahane decided to play an innings of freedom and some glorious strokeplay. He used his feet to the pacers and spinners alike and found the fence and beyond with aplomb. Rahane was particularly aggressive in the Powerplay. He smashed Kagiso Rabada for a straight six with a tennis forehand-like shot. He was already into his 40s by the end of the Powerplay.
Rahane has been a master in pacing his innings over the years. He continued to pick up boundaries at will, piercing the field with immaculate placement. With wickets falling regularly at the other end after his stand with Smith, Rahane had to ensure that the run-rate didn’t take a beating. He kept the scoreboard ticking with smart shot selection and got to his century in the 17th. Once he crossed 100, Rahane could barely get on strike due to some tight bowling by DC. He finished unbeaten on 105, his highest T20 score and the highest at the SMS as well.
All of them were filled with mostly orthodox cricket shots and clean hits. It’s only a matter of time before the number of centuries by Rajasthan Royals batsmen grows with the amount of talent in the current squad. Having said that, each one of these gives us goose bumps, even today. All six centuries were special knocks by extremely talented batsmen.