Spice up your life

It’s the day after the best weekend in IPL history and I am absolutely stoked. All the matches went as I wanted them to go and the Mumbai Indians got knocked out. The latter event was celebrated by all of humanity. I don’t know if the weekend was as good for your team as it was for mine, but oh well, sit back, relax and enjoy the third bi-weekly IPL review of the playoff madness.

Irrelevant start

Friday’s game was the most irrelevant game of the whole weekend. It was Delhi against Chennai. One was already knocked out and the other was already through to the playoffs. No one cared about this game, honestly, no one did.

Delhi won it after they heroically defended 162 runs at home. Rishabh Pant was the best batsman again, as he scored thirty-eight runs. Generic Indian fast bowler #5234 Harshal Patel managed to amass 36 runs in 16 balls after he swung his bat like there was no tomorrow.

Chennai took part in one of the most horrific chases ever, it was as if they didn’t care about the game (well I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t, after all, it wasn’t like anyone watched it). Ambati Rayudu was the top scorer with a half century. Shane Watson, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni all played some phenomenal test innings. The trio had strike rates of 60, 83, and 73 respectively and scored 46 runs in a combined 64 balls. This is cricket.

It was courtesy of these innings that Delhi robbed a 34-run victory against the Super Kings.

Royal Showdown

Now this game was brilliant if you’re a Rajasthan Roylas fan (MEEEEE) but was the most painful exit ever if you’re a Royal Challengers Bangalore fan (most pre-pubescent boys in India). Whoever won, had a chance to go through and whoever lost was out. Now the Royals were without the man himself Jos Buttler and the other English lad Ben Stokes. Surely an already average team without their best player would lose to Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and company?

Rajasthan opened with Rahul Tripathi and Jofra Archer, probably to give them a start that Jos Buttler would give. The former made eighty runs whereas the latter played four balls and got out for zero. Ajinkya Rahane and Heinrich Klaasen both contributed 30+ runs to the innings, albeit in totally different fashions. Rahane was his usual, slow self, whereas Klaasen was smashing balls out the park. All that added to Gowtham’s 14 runs in 5 balls took Rajasthan to a decent total of 164 at the Jaipur stadium. The stadium is commonly referred to as a fortress and its pitch is considered to be a drier than the nearby Thar desert itself.

The Bangalore side had a decent start, even though captain Virat Kohli was bowled within nine balls. AB de Villiers and the ageless midget Parthiv Patel were smashing the Royal bowling lineup. At around the eighth over though, two leg-spinning saviours appeared at the bowling crease. New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi and Bangalore’s Shreyas Gopal (oof).

Gopal took full advantage of the dry pitch and within four overs, dismissed Patel, de Viliers, Moeen Ali and Mandeep Singh. Three of the four dismissals involved some fine wicket-keeping from Heinrich Klaasen too, who is now called the South African Dhoni. Sodhi also picked up the wicket of Colin de Grandhomme, and dug Bangalore’s grave in the process.

Rajasthan eventually won by 30 runs but needed two more results to go their way so they could make the final four.

Kolkata through

Apologies for not coming up with a witty subheading there, Hyderabad and Kolkata aren’t the easiest to make puns out of ;-(. Anyway, in this match the equation was simple. Kolkata win, they’re through, they don’t, they still could be through. Hyderabad wouldn’t mind anything, as they were already top of the table.

The Sunrisers batted first and put up a score of 172. Moustache merchant Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson being the best batsmen (again…). Prasidh Krishna, who I didn’t know of until this game turned out to be the best bowler as he snapped up four wickets for the Kolkata outfit.

Kolkata got over the line fairly comfortably. Lead by a typical blinder innings from Sunil Narine (29 runs off 10 balls) and a proper innings from Chris Lynn (55 in 43), the Knight Riders chased the total down with two balls to spare.

This meant that Kolkata sealed the third spot and would play in the playoffs. It also means that Shah Rukh Khan will act like he cares again and will be seen waving his hands at the playoff games, drunk and high as ever.

Delhi Daredevils: The People’s Club

Delhi Daredevils have been the laughing stock of the IPL ever since it began. They’ve had different owners, different logos, different captains, but have always failed and bottled everything. On Sunday evening though, they did the entire Indian subcontinent a huge favour. They did something so huge, and so delightful that every corner of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka was found celebrating. They knocked the Mumbai Indians out of the IPL.

The last placed side in the tournament, plagued by all sorts of issues, filled with youngsters managed to defeat the Fixers Extraordinaires of Mumbai. Playing at home, Delhi scored a high score of 174 (well high for the Delhi pitch). Rishabh Pant was the hero once again as he made 64 runs, Vijay Shankar also played his part with a decently played 43 runs. Prithivi Shaw however (I’m convinced he was paid by Mumbai) got run out while walking to the other end. Shaw also dropped a few catches but was rightly thrown to the bench and replaced by a substitute fielder.

Just like the Bangalore one, the Mumbai Indians innings was murdered by leg-spinners. The Nepali Shane Warne Sandeep Lamichhane picked up three wickets, including that of hard-hitter Suryakumar Yadav. Veteran Amit Mishra also snapped three batsmen. Mumbai’s top scorer Evin Lewis, Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan were all dismissed by the Indian spinner.

Glenn Maxwell and Trent Boult were involved in two fantastic catches that seemed as if they were replays of each other. Maxwell catches the ball on the boundary, throws it to Boult, steps out of the boundary while Boult catches it and the world celebrates. It was beautiful I tell you.

Ben Cutting’s innings of 37 in 20 that almost got Mumbai over the line was denied by a Harshal Patel ball and Maxwell catch. It was almost as if the cricketing Gods didn’t want Mumbai to win, and we can’t thank them enough.

This meant that Mumbai were knocked out (HALLELUJAH!) and Rajasthan had a foot into the land of promise, the playoffs. Punjab could still qualify if they beat Chennai by 53 or more runs though.

Lungi Dance

Although the title of this heading will make no sense to those unaware of Indian culture, it will be hilarious to those who are, and that’s fine by me.

Punjab were batting first against Chennai, and needed to win by a margin of at least 53 runs to ensure that they would make the playoffs. Did they? LOL.

South African pacer Lungi Ngidi bowled the entire Punjab batting line-up after dismissing K.L Rahul for a measly 7 runs (see entire line-up because Rahul’s the only good one? No? Okay I’ll show myself out). Ngidi also took the wicket of the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle. Karun Nair, Manoj Tiwary and David Miller almost got Punjab to a respectable score but threw their wickets away in true Punjabi fashion.

Chennai needed 154 to win, but only 101 to guarantee Rajasthan’s qualification, so basically they needed 101. After Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis and Sam Billings all went early, I started trembling. Could Punjab actually bowl Chennai out for 101 and not bottle something? Well no, they couldn’t, they’re Punjab, they’ve won one game in seven after being at the top of the table.

Dhoni sent Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar, two tail-enders to just heave their bats and score as many runs as possible. It worked as the pair together scored 58 runs in 42 balls. Suresh Raina was at the other end, anchoring the innings. It was his shot that got Chennai to the 101 mark and prompted me to squeal like a little girl. Rajasthan had made it to the playoffs, and Punjab were out.

Chennai did win the game in the end after a shocking start, but everyone stopped watching as soon as the 101st run was scored.

That brings us to the end of this week’s review, and although it is extremely long, I hope you will enjoy it. If you’re a Mumbai fan however, I don’t care. I’ll be back on Friday reviewing the playoff games.