After an exciting penultimate week of blistering cricket action, the League enters the final stretch of the 2019 season with still one playoff slot wide open and three teams in with a serious chance of sneaking through. Mumbai joined Chennai and Delhi in the playoffs on Thursday and with Punjab going down to Kolkata on Friday night, after an impressive start last summer joins Bangalore in the eliminated list and the challengers have now dropped to three serious contenders for the last playoff spot. Chennai and Delhi have been the most consistent teams this season and it was no surprise that they became the first two teams to book playoff berths. Mumbai needed to win against Hyderabad at the Wankhede on Thursday and they picked up two valuable points after a Super Over thriller.
Over the next 2 days, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Rajasthan will battle it out for the remaining berth in the playoffs.
Had Hyderabad held their nerve on Thursday and defeated Mumbai, they would have knocked Rajasthan out but that did not happen. Rajasthan, 7th in the points table, are still in the fray. Now it has all come down to the last 4 matches this weekend.
Delhi take on Rajasthan in the first match on Saturday. Both teams would be keen to win this. Delhi, if they win today at the Feroz Shah Kotla, stand a great chance of finishing in the top two. If Rajasthan lose, they will be eliminated.
Later on Saturday evening, Bangalore, who are already eliminated, take on Hyderabad at home. Hyderabad have to win this one. If they lose, Kolkata will go through to the playoffs if they beat Mumbai on Sunday. Hyderabad arrive at their final stop – Bangalore, knowing what needs to be done, but also grudgingly aware of their depleted firepower. The equation hasn’t changed since their heartbreak at the Wankhede – a win would still almost certainly be enough to nab that last remaining playoff berth on account of a superior net run rate, which is more than what can be said of their competitors anyway who don’t have the luxury of being in charge of their own destiny.
SCHEDULE – FINALS WEEK
Saturday 4th May 2019
Match 53 – 04.00pm DELHI vs RAJASTHAN
Match 54 – 08.00pm BANGALORE vs HYDERABAD
Sunday 5th May 2019
Match 55 – 04.00pm PUNJAB vs CHENNAI
Match 56 – 08.00pm MUMBAI vs KOLKATA
Tuesday 7th May 2019
Qualifier 1 – 07.30pm @ M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Wednesday 8th May 2019
Eliminator – 07.30pm @ ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Friday 10th May 2019
Qualifier 2 – 07.30pm @ ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Sunday 12th May 2019
07.30pm @ Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Most Runs: 692 (David Warner, Hyderabad)
Most Wickets: 25 (Kagiso Rabada, Delhi)
Highest Score: 114* (56) (Jonny Bairstow, Hyderabad)
Best Bowling: 6-12 (Alzarri Joseph, Mumbai)
The tournament holds a lot more importance for international sides this year given the ICC World Cup that is to kick off in England and Wales less than three weeks after the final. That has, in turn, led to the franchises having to chalk out plans concerning the workloads of key players, although some have commented on the T20 tournament being an ideal way for players to warm up for the big ICC event later this summer.
Both Chennai and Rajasthan made it to the knockout stage of the 2018 edition after serving a two-year suspension over corruption charges last year. MS Dhoni-led Chennai went on to complete the fairytale by beating Hyderabad comfortably in the final in Mumbai, lifting the trophy for the third time as a result.
Chennai are now level with Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai in terms of number of title victories as a result.
Aside from the fact that the tournament is taking place right before a World Cup, instead of after as had been the case in 2011 and 2015, this edition is unique for an entirely different reason. The Committee of Administrators (COA) had earlier announced their decision to scrap the opening ceremony, stating the funds will instead be donated to the families of the CRPF personnel who were killed in the Pulwama terror attack on 14 February.
Chennai made a decision in the same vein, stating that the proceeds from ticket sales for the opening clash against RCB will be donated to the said families.
Ready for FINALS WEEK Folks?
Who is your Super 8?
Leagues up in the Lobby, Go get ’em champs!