The history of IPL reveals that it’s not necessary that the strongest team or the one which gets off to a steady start always wins it. There are exceptions though, like the Rajasthan Royals in 2008 and the Chennai Super Kings in 2011 when their consistent performances culminated in title wins. That’s why ‘peaking’ at the right time is so very important in sport. With only four matches to go before the play-offs in this edition, only two teams have been confirmed of their fate; Mumbai Indians is the only team to have made it to the next stage so far and the Chennai Super Kings the only team to play for just pride.
Shreyas Iyer would be the most worried captain at the moment. Having won seven out of their first nine games, the Delhi Capitals looked like the team to beat. The skipper and the young Prithvi Shaw were firing with the bat, the South African bowling pair of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje looked sharp and the team looked impressive. But, things changed for them in the last couple of weeks with the Capitals losing all of their last four matches. Hammered by the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, by 59 and 88 runs respectively, Shreyas Iyer appeared happy when the stand-in Mumbai Indians skipper Pollard invited them to bat first last Saturday. But the happiness would vanish in no time. For a Mumbai Indians unit high on confidence and form, the target of 111 runs was chicken-feed and completing the formalities of a chase was just a stroll in the park for them. Yet another loss for Delhi, this time by 9 wickets.
Injuries to some of its key players might have robbed the Delhi Capitals of the momentum, but it might also be that they must have taken it a bit too lightly once they were at the top of the table. The team hasn’t shown any real intent lately and hence finds itself in a bit of a hole from what was a position of clear dominance. And when they face the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday, it becomes a battle of two teams with a similar tale in the tournament. Like Delhi, Bangalore was also comfortably placed with six wins in nine matches but with three consecutive losses, there is a question mark against them after losing three matches in a row. Notwithstanding the contributions of the exciting Devdutt Padikkal, the over-reliance on the Virat Kohli-AB de Villiers duo seems to have come back to bite them. Should these two teams look up to the Kings XI Punjab and draw inspiration from the way it fought back into the reckoning after being down and out at one point,
When a team knows that it has nothing to lose, it might be the most dangerous opponent one can encounter. The Chennai Super Kings, finding themselves in a rather unfamiliar territory, handed over such a lesson to the Kolkata Knight Riders the other day. Having 27 runs to defend with just nine balls left, the Knight Riders would have fancied their chances but Ravindra Jadeja had other ideas. That innings from him was a reminder of the fact that in a scenario like that, the experience is just as important as any other aspect. KKR have their play-off chances dented with too many ‘ifs and buts’ and too much dependence on the numerical aspect of it.
Think of ‘peaking’ and the Rajasthan Royals just seem to be doing that. An impressive run chase against the Kings XI meant that they have got the momentum going but has it come a tad too late? Although placed fifth on the table, they are still in it. Ben Stokes coming to the party with two back-to-back ‘Man of the Match’ performances and Sanju Samson showing consistency with the bat are heartening for the Royals. With the Sunrisers and the Kings XI running neck-to-neck, the race has gotten tantalisingly close. If one takes the two most successful teams in the history of the IPL as a case study, it tells you one thing. That it’s about sustaining the momentum and peaking at the right time.
However, Kings XI couldn’t make it to the play-offs after yet another defeat from Chennai Super wickets. This was a must-win game for Rahul and company but Chennai outshined them completely. Ruturaj Gaikwad scored an unbeaten to end the IPL on a winning note. However, it looked an end for Punjab much earlier but they came back strongly with five straight wins and then loosing the last two matches to end their journey finally. Poor team selection in the last much could be a cause.
Chennai fans couldn’t have felt better than this epic moment. Danny Morris asked Dhoni during the toss as if this would be his last match in the yellow jersey to which Dhoni smiled and said – ‘Definately not!’
All the teams in the mix have shown that they have adequate resources and now it’s all about hunger, intent and a bit of luck. It’s a mouth-watering prospect for the fans and yes, there is enough in it for a writer, too. He doesn’t have to worry about the moments that passed him by anymore!
The Sydney Thunder have signed New Zealand paceman Adam Milne ahead of the 2020/21 Big Bash League. Milne made his international debut as a teenager in 2010 and has since taken 66 wickets for New Zealand. He was at one stage of his career the fastest bowler in New Zealand’s short-format squad, reaching speeds of over 150km/h. The 28-year-old boasts a T20I bowling average of 21.64, his career-best figures of 4/37 coming against Pakistan in January 2016. Milne will join a formidable pace attack at the Thunder, which already boasts local talent Chris Tremain, Daniel Sams, Brendan Doggett, Ben Cutting and Nathan McAndrew.
He has also previously represented the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League but has recently been hampered by injury. Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond has mentored Milne since he was plucked from his high school team over a decade ago. “Adam is fast, he can swing the ball at 140-plus km/h; he’s a good fielder and is handy with the bat,” Bond said. “When you’ve been to a World Cup, and some of the world’s top competitions, you’re a serious player and a hardened pro. “The fact a player of Adam’s quality is available for the entire tournament is a real bonus for us. On a personal level, I’m really looking forward to working with him again.”