Which team will come out on top in playoffs? This is a question that will be running around the fans head in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 playoffs. Four power-houses will be battling it all out in the 11th edition. The Qualifier 1 will be between the first two finishers Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings. An eliminator will take place between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals likewise before the Qualifier 2.
So how have the teams fared? What are their chances? What could they offer? These are questions riding on every fans’ mind. Let’s give you a briefing of the same.
Kane Williamson’s team finished on top with 18 points and had a better Net Run Rate than Chennai Super Kings. For a team that has delighted the fans with some wonderful bowling performances, they take on CSK for the third time in this IPL season. The Orange Army have looked like a unit that went from strength to strength with skipper Kane Williamson leading the charge.
The side notched five successive victories in this IPL which is the best by any team. But having said that, their current form is a worry. They have lost their last three matches and the bowling hasn’t quite come good all of a sudden. Their strength so far has been the form of skipper Kane alongside southpaw Shikhar Dhawan in the batting. The duo have been crucial in stitching partnerships and paying freely.
Rashid Khan (16 wickets) is another player that has impressed largely with the ball throughout. But the weaknesses come in the form of pacers, who have looked off-coloured after the burst of energy for most parts of the tournament.
Top scorer: Kane Williamson – Runs: 661, Best: 84, S/R: 143.07, 50s: 8
Top wicket-taker: Siddarth Kaul – Wickets 17, Best 3/23, Econ 8.00
Estimated Finish: Qualifier 2
Chennai Super Kings
The Super Kings have been a top entity with plenty of firepower on a show. Their all-round performances have been notable and the impact of senior players grew along. MS Dhoni’s own form has been on the up and that has been backed by the leading players coming good more than often in taking responsibilities.
CSK enjoyed a stellar form in Pune, winning five out of six games. They shift their attention to the Wankhede now where they had earlier beaten the Mumbai Indians in a thriller. The last game victory against Kings XI Punjab will give them a lot of confidence especially after coming out strong from a difficult position. Their strength so far has been the form of senior pros and also the intelligence of youngster Lungi Ngidi.
Players like Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina and Shane Watson have impressed largely with 1275 runs between them. The middle-order is vulnerable at times especially with too much workload on MS Dhoni there. The bowling too has been on and off. But overall the team has the credentials to go the distance.
Top scorer: Ambati Rayudu – Runs: 586, Best: 100*, S/R: 153.40, 50s: 3 100s: 1
Top wicket-taker: Shardul Thakur – Wickets: 14, Best: 2/18, Econ: 8.82
Estimated Finish: Champions
Kolkata Knight Riders
The eastern giants finished a delightful third and made sure they ended the group stage strongly after some hiccups in the middle. For a team that was written off before the season started, a third-place finish was a majestic achievement. They ended the campaign with three successive wins and beating SRH away in the final game would have been a delight for the side.
KKR finished with 16 points and will be looking to complete a treble this season against the Royals. The impact of Sunil Narine has been vital for the side especially with his exploits atop. Chris Lynn has been very mature and the presence of skipper Dinesh Karthik has been an enjoyable journey with his finishing prowess being top notch.
KKR had a major weakness in their bowling which was visible many a times, but now they have somewhat gone on to rectify that. The impact of pacer Prasidh Krishna has been wonderful with the youngster coming good off late. The presence of Jason Searles too has strengthened the side. With the momentum they have gone on to extract recently, Kolkata Knight Riders need to come good in a tough road ahead.
Top scorer: Dinesh Karthik – Runs: 438, Best: 50, S/R: 149.48, 50s: 1
Top wicket-taker: Sunil Narine – Wickets: 16, Best: 3/18, Econ: 7.62
Estimated Finish: Runners-up
The Ajinkya Rahane-led side needs to credit Jos Buttler for all the finesse he showed to get them where they now belong. The Englishman has gone back for the Test series against Pakistan, but credit to RR for getting the job done in the final match of the group stage where they stifled RCB.
Rajasthan Royals finished with 14 points and will look to get the maximum out in Eden Gardens with their spinners. Beating KKR at home won’t be easy, but on their day RR could be ominous. In overall matches, KKR has eight victories to RR’s nine. At Eden Gardens, Kolkata Knight Riders have won five out of six meetings. So that says a lot on whose favour can the match go.
For RR, all eyes will be on their middle order besides the spin twins. RR need a complete performance against KKR to reach Qualifier 2. Their bowlers will need to come good after having disappointed for most parts.
Top scorer: Jos Buttler – Runs: 548, Best: 95, S/R: 155.24, 50s: 5
Top wicket-taker: Jofra Archer – Wickets: 13, Best: 3/22, Econ: 8.38
Estimated Finish: Qualifier 2