When you think IPL, what are the images that your mind conjures up?
Passionate fans, pumped up players, anxious team owners, soaring big-hits and the occasional cartwheeling of the stumps.
The IPL is indeed replete with all of these recurring images. That said, for every conversation about the defending champions Mumbai Indians, there is an anecdote featuring Chennai Super Kings.
And for every de Villiers blitz, there is an MS Dhoni run-chase.
There are heroes aplenty in the IPL but the most celebrated lot are the batsmen.
On the cusp of the 14th edition of the IPL, here's a look at five of the biggest batting efforts that the tournament has witnessed thus far.
#5 Rishabh Pant – 128* Vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
It was the 42nd game of the 2018 edition of the IPL and hosts Delhi had won the toss and opted to bat first.
Delhi had lost openers Prithvi Shaw and Jason Roy rather cheaply and at 21/2, were in a spot of bother.
It was then that Rishabh Pant walked out to bat at number four.
What followed was an onslaught that lasted 63 balls. The southpaw struck at a staggering 203.17, clearing the fence seven times and carting fifteen boundaries.
At the end of his effort, Pant had 128* against his name and Delhi had posted a competitive 187/5.
Shikhar Dhawan (92*)and Kane Williamson (83*), however, overhauled that total with an over to spare.
That said, that 128* from Pant showed beyond doubt that the wicket-keeper batsman was indeed the next big thing in the IPL and in fact Indian cricket.
#4 KL Rahul – 132* Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
The year was 2020 and KL Rahul was leading the Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) against RCB in the sixth match of the tournament at Dubai.
After winning the toss, Virat Kohli sent Punjab in to bat first.
Opening with Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul looked in zen-mode from the word go.
With pose, balance and elegance, the skipper stroked RCB into submission.
Score at a rate of 191.30, Rahul hammered 132 runs from 69 balls. The knock contained fourteen boundaries and seven sixes to boot.
The skipper single-handedly propelled Punjab to 206.
Weighed down by the huge total, RCB duly succumbed and handed Punjab a 97 run win.
#3 AB de Villiers – 133* Vs Mumbai Indians
Every time RCB stride out to bat, loyalties towards one's team are soon forgotten.
The reason for that is a certain South African genius that wears RCB's colours and puts on a magical show virtually every time he steps out in the IPL.
In 2015, when Mumbai played hosts to RCB, the visitors earned the right to bat first.
Soon after Chris Gayle's early dismissal for just 13, skipper Kohli was joined by de Villiers.
What followed was a partnership for the ages.
The duo put of 215 of the finest runs for the second wicket.
All of Mumbai watched in awe and there were very little that the Malinga-Bumrah led attack could muster.
In 59 balls, the mercurial de Villiers scored 133 runs while pummelling 19 boundaries and 4 sixes. His strike rate for the night was an astonishing 225.42.
The gusty Mumbai did mount a fightback but eventually surrendered by 39 runs.
#2 Brendon McCullum – 158* Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
On April 18, Bangalore hosted the first-ever IPL match.
The tournament was conceptualised after India won the World T20 in South Africa. The world was only just discovering T20 cricket and the players themselves were learning how to play this brand new format.
An unsuspecting Rahul Dravid put Kolkata in after winning the toss and thereafter, history unfolded.
Opening the batting for Kolkata, Brendon McCullum did the only thing he does well with the willow in hand – swing away.
Before the stunned Bangalore crowd knew what had hit them, the Kiwi had deposited 13 balls amidst the crowd and sent 10 hits to the fence.
In 73 balls, McCullum had posted 158 runs, this was the very first hundred of the IPL.
A stunned RCB then fell short by a whopping 140-run.
Years later, when the very advent of IPL is talked about, it's hard not to recall that fearless blitz from one of the finest strikers of the cricket ball that the game has seen.
#1 Chris Gayle – 175* Vs Pune Warriors
The year was 2013 and RCB were hosting Pune at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Pune's skipper Aaron Finch sent the hosts in to bat first – a decision that he perhaps later regretted.
From the moment he walked out to bat with T Dilshan, Chris Gayle had just one motive – hit them long and hard.
The West Indian held fort for the entire twenty-over period and sent many a ball sailing over the roof and into the adjoining Cubbon Park.
In all, he smacked 17 sixes and 13 boundaries en-route to a 66-ball 175.
While the outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion – Pune fell short by 130 runs – there is just one memory that remains etched in the minds of all that watched on, that of Chris 'The Universe Boss' Gayle, sending the ball into orbit, again and again.
The knock remains the highest individual score in the history of the IPL.