Will Dhoni be third time lucky or will it be Viru, Bhajji or Gauti’s day out in IPL-5

It is official. After too much of anticipation and suspense, four teams have made it to the playoff round of Indian Premier League Season V. It has been the most open and tightly contested IPL of all the editions and it kept people guessing as to which teams would finally make it to the penultimate stage of the tournament till the last day of the league matches.

The teams that would vie it out at the play-offs would be Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. With the Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai qualified much ahead of the defending champions, Chennai who could seal its spot only after Royal Challengers Bangalore lost their do or die match against Deccan Chargers on Sunday.

Now with the teams that have qualified, expect the play-offs to be one hell of a battle field with all the teams giving it everything they have to win the tournament.

Here are the four teams that qualified for the next stage of the tournament and let’s have a look as to how do these teams are expected to perform in play-off stages.

Delhi Daredevils: They are looking like the best bet to win this year’s Indian Premier League. This is the second time that Daredevils have gone past the league stages. They are looking in great shape and dominated the league stages completely. They have topped the table with 22 points. They have won 11 matches while losing five. They have a net run rate of 0.617, the best among the teams that qualified, which shows the way they played. They look like a team on mission and their skipper Virender Sehwag is leading the team very well.

Their bowling attack has been the best in the tournament and pace attack has created problems for all the teams. Finishing as the top side in the group stages gives them two chances to qualify for the finals but the way they are playing it does not look like that they would require the second chance. They take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in their next match and they are evenly placed with as they won one and lost one. They are most well balanced side in the tournament and if one of the key players fails to perform on a given day, other complements them well.

The key players to watch out from Delhi would be Virender Sehwag, David Warner whereas in the bowling department the trio of purple cap holder Morne Morkel, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav is sure to create some serious problems for their opponent in the matches to come.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Kolkata Knight Riders’ fortune changed after Gautam Gambhir took over the captaincy from Sourav Ganguly. The team has developed leaps and bounds under his reign and has become a major force to reckon to in IPL. This is the second consecutive times that they have made it past the league stages. They ended the league stages as the second placed team with 21 points.

They did look inconsistent at the start of the tournament but picked up their performance at the crucial time of the tournament. But there only problem in the tournament is their over dependence on their skipper Gautam Gambhir and mystery man from West Indies Sunil Narine.

Gambhir is the third highest run getter in the tournament till now whereas Sunil Narine is trailing behind Morne Morkel in the list highest wicket takers. If a look is taken at how the team performed in the tournament, it can be easily established that most of the matches they won was due to the performance of these two players. KKR camp would be wary of that and there other players would have to deliver if they have to make it past this stage and live their dream of winning the IPL for the first time. 

Mumbai Indians:
The best side on papers has not lived up to the standard that gets set by default considering their line-up. They have been fairly inconsistent throughout the tournament but then did manage to seal a spot in the play-offs. Taking into consideration the way they played in the tournament, they can easily be given the title of ‘king of last over’. The number of matches they won in the last over shows how well they have maintained pressure. They finished the league stages at the third position on the points table a record that could have been better if they were little consistent.

Out of 16 matches played, MI won 10 matches and lost six to end the league stages on 20 point. Mumbai would have immense confidence while going into the play-off round. First they would take on Chennai Super Kings in the eliminator, a team whom they beat on the both the occasions they met this season. This fact would give them an upper hand over the defending champions. And also the fact cannot be undermined that the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar who had a pretty ordinary tournament scored his second half century of the tournament in the last match. His jump to form came at the right time much for the Indians’ camp. And if Sachin can continue his consistency any debate on as to who might win the championship would be a wasteful thing to do. Key players from the Mumbai side would Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Keiron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Dwayne Smith.

Chennai Super Kings:
Defending champions and the most successful team of the IPL, Chennai Super Kings has become the only team in the history of the tournament to have made past the first round in all the five editions. Now call it luck or destiny they still are at it. Their fate hung by thread and they could qualify only after Deccan Chargers beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in the last league match of the tournament.

Bangalore’s loss was Chennai’s gain and the two times champion pipped Bangalore to the next stage due to better run rate. Talking about their performance they looked very ordinary this season and were very inconsistent. Super Kings losing at their home grounds sounded like a myth in previous seasons, but this time around there fortress was breached over and again. They look the weakest side to have made it to the play-offs but one can never when can they jump back. Chennai already showed enough resiliency and would definitely look to better their performance than how it was in the league stage. They have been defeated by Mumbai twice, and definitely would have vengeance on their mind when they take them in the eliminator.

Chennai has already won it two consecutive times and would for hat-trick of titles and to make that possible Dhoni would require his big guns to perform well. Players who the Mumbai should be wary of are Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Mike Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus.

By Samikshan Dutta Choudhury
Indian Sports News