CRICKET NEWS - The final week of league action saw the closest jostle for play-off positions in IPL history with all eight teams technically capable of finishing in the top four – although Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals were assured of participation in the last week of the tournament.
The first game of the week, however, saw the first casualty as Royal Challengers Bangalore had their penultimate game against Rajasthan Royals, initially reduced to five-overs per side, washed out – just when they seemed sure to win it when Virat Kohli’s 25 from seven balls led them to 62-7 and the Royals were reduced to 41-1 with just eight balls remaining when rain returned.
Chennai confirmed their place in the play-offs with an 80-run victory against the Delhi Capitals which was as unlikely as it was comprehensive.
The men in yellow limped to 7-1 in the first four overs with Faf du Plessis making a cautious 39 from 41 balls but smashed 77 in the last five overs with MS Dhoni finishing 44 not out from 22 balls. Spinners Imran Tahir (4-12) and Ravi Jadeja (3-9) dismissed the Capitals for 99.
Sunrisers’ Afghan allrounder Mohammed Nabi needed to hit the last ball of the match against Mumbai Indians for six to force a Super Over – and did so. But Jasprit Bumrah was too smart with the ball and conceded just eight runs which Afghan legspinner Rashid Khan was never going to be able to defend.
The Kolkata Knight Riders kept their hopes alive with an excellent run-chase against the King’s XI overhauling a total of 183-6 with a couple of overs to spare with opener Shubman Gill making an unbeaten 65 from 49 balls.
Delhi bounced back from their drubbing by Chennai by restricting the Rajasthan Royals to just 115-9 with 17-year-old Riyan Parag contributing an excellent 50. Rishabh Pant made short work of the chase with 53 not out.
Bangalore finished their season with another consolation victory – this time against Hyderabad – but still finished bottom of the log. Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson finally came good with 70* from 43 balls to lead his team to 175-7 but Guyanese left hander Shimron Hetmeyer trumped him with 75 from 47 balls.
The penultimate game of the weekend had nothing on it for either team but Chennai continued their wobbly finish to the league campaign with a fourth defeat in their last six matches. Faf du Plessis posted a personal best 96 in Chennai’s 170-5 but KL Rahul (71) helped knock off the runs for the King’s XI on a perfect batting pitch. A poor net run-rate meant the King’s XI had no chance of qualifying.