It is safe to say that the Thirteenth edition of Indian Premier League has exceeded its expectations by a fair margin. The fans have been treated with some enthralling action, with youngsters rising to the fore in giving us some unforgettable cricket games.
The IPL 2020 started amidst so much uncertainties but the way it was organized and held together in these difficult times deserves a special mention to BCCI and the hosts UAE.
It was feared that the wickets in UAE would be a graveyard for the batters as the pitches are low and slow by nature in UAE. But the curators have managed to provide good sporting wickets throughout the course of the IPL, which turned out to be a massive add-on to this season.
With only four league games remaining, the playoff spots are yet to be sealed and as much as three playoff spots are up for grabs and 6 teams are in contention for 3 spots, it just goes on to show the sheer competitiveness of this league.
The defending champions and the mightiest team in this IPL in Mumbai Indians were the first team to qualify for the playoffs and they are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the tournament. They have also sealed the #1 spot in the points table which would mean that they will have that luxury of having an additional chance to qualify for the finals.
It was expected that MS Dhoni would weave his magic for one more time but it was not meant to be the case and CSK were the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs race. They were lagging behind the rest of the teams in each and every department. This was always coming with the percentage cricket they have played in the last two years.
They assembled a random squad in 2018 and managed to win the trophy and make the finals in 2019, which in itself was a huge achievement with the kind of team they have. So, them getting knocked out of the tournament shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Royals have upped their game in the second leg of the tournament after their blistering start to the season where they won their first 2 games. In short, they were benefitted by the return of the man who makes things happen, Ben Stokes. They have understood the dynamics of the format and their move to open with Ben Stokes is an example for that.
Ben Stokes, who is largely seen as a finisher in ODIs and T20Is has been nothing but a let down in T20Is in middle order. RR management have understood this and decided to give relatively better batting conditions by asking him to open the innings where the ball will be hard and new and field restrictions will be in place. And guess what, Ben Stokes has owned that position.
Though, them qualifying for the playoffs is bleak as they need to win the game against KKR by a huge margin and need KXIP and SRH to lose their remaining games, they have showed that any team can be a successful team on a given day if they understand the format.
Kolkata Knight Riders have had a nightmarish season to say the least. Their move to use Dinesh Karthik at the top of the order even after repeated failures is one of the many blunders they have done in this season. They did execute some shrewd strategies like sending Sunil Narine in the middle order to counter spin but they were below par in this season. It will require a separate post to cover the blunders that each team have made in this season.
KKR need to win their last game against RR by a huge margin and need KXIP and SRH to lose their game against CSK and MI respectively to qualify for the playoffs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have been the most unfortunate team in this IPL as they lost their pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar to injury even before the start of the second leg. Yet, they have their fate in their own hands, which is the most admirable thing about this team.
They have played percentage cricket with utility cricketers and have managed to stay ahead of the game, which has helped them to a great deal. The arrival of Jason Holder has given them a huge boost and they just need to win their last league game against Mumbai Indians to qualify for the playoffs.
KXIP have made one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the history of IPL ever. There were no doubts that they were the dark horse of this IPL as they performed extremely well at the auction and roped in Anil Kumble as the head coach who has one of the best cricketing minds going around. They defeated RCB in their very second game of the season courtesy a majestic innings from KL Rahul but a series of blunders almost saw them out of the tournament before the arrival of the UNIVERSE BOSS, Chris Gayle.
He came, he conquered and KXIP are just one win away from playing in the eliminators.
RCB and DC have had a strange season this time around. They both were dominating in the first leg of the tournament and have slumped to a series of defeats towards the fag end of the tournament. Though, they both can still make the playoffs if they win their last game where they themselves will be locking horns with each other.
The winner of that game goes straight through the playoffs and will play qualifier 1 against Mumbai Indians. The loser of that game needs either of KXIP or SRH to lose their last game and they should also hope that the winner of RR vs KKR don’t win by a huge margin.
With that permutation and combination, let’s hope the rest of the games are about as interesting as the one’s we’ve seen from day one.