IPL5 – At the end of league stage – Part II
It’s time to check the top 4 of the IPL.
Its looks like even if Chennai Super Kings doesn’t want to be in the play offs, the other teams does need them. When CSK finished their last match, along with CSK 3 other teams were in contention for play offs and lot of results were required to go in their way to make the top 4. Call it destiny or fixing, CSK got there. When a team which requires its last match should be a victory to stay alive in the competition they are expected to produce a performance of life. But what CSK has shown against KXIP in the last game baffled everyone. None of their star players like Raina, Ashwin and Dhoni who performed in the previous editions of IPL performed this time. Faf du Plessis singlehandedly managed the top order of CSK till the arrival of Mike Hussey, Bravo, if not spectacular proved effective as all-rounder and Albie Morkel who with his power hitting won few matches in which CSK has no business of winning.
CSK’s strength is always being a collective force and again they get through to play offs with little contribution from every player. But if their star players do perform it will do no harm. It will be interesting to see how they handle the fit Faf du Plessis and Mike Hussey in the same XI with both being successful as opening batsman with M Vijay taking the other slot. Their first XI have settled look which is a fantastic for them but few of their players really need to step up their game to see CSK in finals.
Mumbai Indians always had a team which can compete with any international T20 team. This time too when they started with a dominating win against CSK I thought, like previous 2 IPL editions there is no stopping them. But unfortunately for them Sachin was injured for initial 5-6 games and their batting line-up was wobbling. The collective effort from the team has put them in the 3rd place in the league. The return of Sachin from injury stabilized their batting to some extent and their bowlers except for Malinga were inconsistent. Munaf though started the tournament brightly found himself sorted out by the opposition players and taken to cleaners. RP Singh showed some of his skills which reminded us his earlier promise but couldn’t deliver on regular basis. Harbhajan Singh still not concerned about picking wickets which caused his exit from Indian team. Kieron Pollard having a mixed tournament till now and MI will be hoping that he comes good in the play offs.
They will be hoping once again their collective effort will take them through to finals. They have batsmen like Sachin, Rohit, Dwayne Smith, Pollard and Rayudu who can single handedly win matches. But their inconsistent form is the worrisome factor for them. Dwayne Smith signing when the tournament in progress proved to be an astute one as he won matches from no hope situation and seems to perform as opener in play-offs which was the real problem area for MI. If that move comes off then there is no stopping MI.
Kolkata Knight Riders riding on the bulk of runs scored by their skipper Gambhir finished at the 2nd position. The other player who performed as effectively as Gambhir but gone unnoticed was Sunil Narine. With his mystery yet to be unlocked, batsmen found really hard to find the kind of delivery he bowls. Watching his spin bowling is a joy too. Kallis and McCullum has a very average tournament by any standards and those are the only batsmen who supported Gambhir. Rajat Bhatia and L Blalaji chipped in with useful contribution with the ball. With half of the team not performing at required level it’s a credit to Gambhir’s captaincy that they finished 2nd. Yusuf Pathan still not able to sort out his problems and Manoj Tiwary didn’t done enough to mention him.
KKR hopes hinges on the form of Gambhir and Narine. If they both have a great day rest of the players can breathe easy as they have done for most of the matches in this season. Gambhir will be expecting some of his players to step up which will push KKR to their first ever IPL final.
Delhi Daredevils Bull Run which started with the Sehwag’s return to form and Morne Morkel’s blistering pace placed them at the perch of the points table. We have seen what an in-form Sehwag brings to the team. He scored fifties after fifties which mostly results in wins and DD placed themselves at the top. Pietersen too played an important part and as if it is planned earlier once he left Warner came into team making sure there is no letting off for opposition. They proved that seam attack is not something which fails in Indian pitches. They have the fastest Indian bowlers like Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav along with Morne Morkel who all proved effective.
They will hope their top order continues to fire as their middle order is yet to be tested seriously. Ross Taylor in the penultimate match against RCB has shown that he didn’t forget his swipes to midwicket or square leg which will be encouraging for them. But Morkel after a great start now looks like burnt out. DD needs him to be at his best to clinch the title. They have all the ingredients to win the title for the first time. Will they?
This is just a small explanation about the play offs instead of semi-finals which is implemented in IPL.
While the semifinal is just 2 matches play-offs consist of 3 matches.
1st Play off – Ist Place Vs IInd place à Winner of this match goes straight to final.
Eliminator – IIIrd place Vs IVth place à Loser of this match goes out of tournament.
2nd Play off – Loser of 1st play off Vs Winner of Eliminator match.
I like this method as it does plays some advantage to the table toppers for all the efforts they put in the league.