On May 7th, 2019, the 1st qualifier match between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians will be played. The eliminators will be held on May 8th between the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Delhi Capitals. Thereafter, the losing team from the qualifier round will be playing the winner of the eliminator round. The four teams, Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Delhi Capitals have managed to make it to the top of the table. This is the first time that the Delhi Capitals ever reached the finals. But for CSK, MI and SRH it is not new. While SRH won the IPL 2016 and reached the finals as well last year, MI and CSK have won the tournament three times each. All the three teams (not inclusive of Delhi Capitals) have been consistent in the IPL and it was not surprising that they got the top spots.
Chennai Super Kings
The Chennai Super Kings are defending champions with all of 18 points, having forged ahead in the IPL 2019 right from the beginning. They were also the first team to make it to the playoffs. As one of the most consistent units, CSK was always contending towards the qualifier round. In 2018, Shane Watson scored a couple of hundreds, but this season was surprisingly not in full form. A balance was derived when the other players stepped up their performance. Of course, the unstoppable MS Dhoni could not be ignored and produced another fantastic season with the bat. Later in the period, Suresh Raina upped the ante as well, while Faf du Plessis was in absolute form against the Kings XI Punjab. The bowlers including Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir did a great job for CSK with Tahir finishing the league states with 21 wickets out of 14 matches. Till date, in every season of the IPL they have played in, CSK has always made it to the playoffs.
Also, ahead in the tournament with 18 points, the Mumbai Indians, although not defending champions, did win the IPL in 2017 for the third time. But in 2018 they even failed to qualify for the playoffs. They seemed to have learned a lot from their miserable performance last year and were determined to turn the tables around this year. Hardik Pandya and Lasith Malinga helped their game immensely. In fact, this was Hardik Pandya’s best stint with the bat in the Indian Premier League up until now. The summer was good for Quinton de Kock who garnered plenty of runs for the team, but unfortunately, Rohit Sharma was not at his best only rendering a below-average performance. Kieron Pollard scored 81 runs for 31 balls against KXIP proving his importance. But other than that, his game has been a little meek as well. As mentioned before, Lasith Malinga was in full form and rattled the batsmen along with Jasprit Bumrah. The young and guile Rahul Chahar was a discovery. Finally, on Sunday, the Mumbai Indians were able to crush KKR in the league game of the season, by 9 wickets, thus finishing on top of the table at the Wankhede Stadium.
It has been 7 years since the Delhi Capitals last reached the playoffs and had a miserable season last year, as well. After a horrific start to the IPL, Gautam Gambhir stepped down as captain and Shreyas Iyer took over the reins of captaincy instead. Prithvi Shaw and Iyer were blazing even as Rishabh Pant gave a fantastic heated performance last year, but it just wasn’t enough. Coached this year by Ricky Ponting, the Delhi Capitals also had an additional advisor in Sourav Ganguly. Moreover, the team got Shikhar Dhawan who would also be paired up with Prithvi shaw in the top order. As the season progressed, Dhan picked up momentum and there were some great knocks from Iyer and Pant as well. Kagiso Rabada picked 25 wickets from 12 matches and returned home, while Chris Morris and Ishant Sharma gave some crucial strikes to help the team breeze into the playoffs with 18 points.
Runners up of 2018 and champions of the IPL 2016, the Sunrisers Hyderabad with only 12 points are the first team to reach the playoffs. David Warner did well for SRH along with Jonny Bairstow and currently holds the Orange cap with 692 runs. They both had to return back home to prepare for the 2019 World Cup. Kane Williamson filled in their shoes perfectly with a stupendous innings even as they thought they were going to scrape the bottom. But this wasn’t really enough to face the Royal Challengers Bangalore who were playing their last league game for the season. While the team did have a better run rate, they were tied on the table along with KKR and KXIP. Finally, KKR’s poor batting performance led to their defeat as they lost against the Mumbai Indians. This shifted the scales in SRH’s favor as they got into the playoffs to play against the Delhi Capitals with 12 points.
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