IPL5 – Eliminator, Playoffs and Finals
Its all a familiar story for Mumbai Indians. Assemble a team that can give anybody a run for their money, storm through or get through the league stages comfortably and then falter at knockout games. When they got 2 wickets in consecutive balls in the second over of the eliminator match against Chennai Super Kings they might have thought this is their year. But CSK had other ideas which included destroying Malinga. With their best bowler taken to cleaners, their captain shunning of his responsibilities by bowling just 3 overs it’s upto their batsmen to chase down a mammoth 187 runs scored by CSK. Response, as sound as it has given lost its hertz once Dwayne Smith got out after giving an explosive start. For strange reasons they hold back their best batsmen like Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, maybe for playoff or final, but whatever it is, it backfired big time and they lost once again to go home. While it’s apparent to many that their problem was their batting order, the men who associated with them doesn’t seem to get it.
After topping the league in style, it’s Delhi Daredevil’s chance to put themselves into final for first time but all they could manage was fluffing it in the first game against Kolkatta Knight Riders with a under par batting performance and then with stunning exclusion of Morne Morkel against Chennai Super Kings. Their two batting heavyweights Sehwag and Warner didn’t got going in both the games which increased the pressure on the middle order which wasn’t tested till the very last stages of league. It proved decisive. The decision of leaving out Morne Morkel in favor of all-rounder Andre Russell, how logical it may sound was big mistake made by DD as their bowlers were without a leader and they were taken apart. With failings on batting, bowling, and strategy-wise at knockout stages they weren’t deserved to win and they didn’t.
Many called it unfair and luck when Chennai Super Kings got into the top four but for sure not now. No other team who were in contention with CSK for the fourth place could have done better. CSK have put in performances in all 3 knockout games which was worthy of a winning one but narrowly missed it in the final game. All their players like Hussey, Vijay, Dhoni, Badrinath and Raina who were quiet till the league games started to explode which could be seen in the team scores like 187, 222 and 191 all which could be defended. They trusted their players, got their tactics spot on and fielded well. When they lost 2 early wickets in the eliminator match against MI they didn’t panic instead sent their anchor man Badri to join Hussey to repair the innings which they did with aplomb and then its all CSK till the finals where they lost to KKR by a smaller margin. Dhoni could have tried Jadeja for couple of overs in the final as Bravo was off-colour but it has been done and dusted. They should be proud with what they have done.
Kolkatta Kinght Riders after a rather poor start to the tournament got themselves up and running which placed them as champions. Riding on the outstanding skill and form of 2 players Gambhir and Narine till the league stages, their underperformed players like Yusuf Pathan, Kallis, and Bisla contributed heavily in the knockout stages to come out as winners. Yusuf Pathan reminded everyone the difference he can make to a good and modest score in the playoff match against DD which proved crucial in the outcome of the match. If Balaji has not injured, Bisla wouldn’t have got a place in the team and if he hadn’t played who knows what the outcome of the final could have been. Manvinder Bisla had always played short burst innings very well for a long time and he couldn’t chosen a better game to show how dangerous he can be when he scores big. With 191 runs to chase it needed somebody to play a knock which should be fast and steady. He turned himself on for that. There were contributions from all the players during their chase and they ended up as worthy champions after chasing down 191. They have formed a new team during last auction; they came near last time and now they nailed it in some style. Well done KKR!!!!