While batting second was advantageous in the early part of the tournament the tables seem to have turned as the pitches get tired and become slower. In their first year of competing the Gujarat Titans became the first team to qualify for the playoffs. Cricket analyst Rahul Patil analyses all the action from Week 7.

Game 50
Delhi Capitals 207 for 3 (Warner 92*, Powell 67*, Bhuvneshwar 1/25) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 186 for 8 (Pooran 62, Markram 42, Khaleel 3/30)

The highlight of this game was the unbeaten 122 run partnership between Warner & Powell of just 66 balls that powered Delhi to a score of 207. For a brief period when Markram and Pooran were batting Hyderabad were in with a chance but once that partnership was broken the rest crumbled under the pressure of the scoreboard. In the last over of Delhi’s innings Powell asked Warner if he wanted the strike to complete his century as Warner was on 92. Warner being the selfless team player that he is refused and asked Powell to just go after the bowling and not worry about personal milestones. A great example of putting team before self and a role model for all the youngsters watching.

Game 51
Mumbai Indians 177 for 6 (Ishan Kishan 45, Tim David 44, Rashid Khan 2/24) beat Gujarat Titans 172 for 5 (Saha 55, Gill 52, Murugan Ashwin 2/29, Sams 0/18)

For 39 overs of this 40 over game Gujarat dominated it. Needing 9 to win of the last over of the game, for once they couldn’t add the finishing touch. Even though David Miller and Rahul Tewatia (the Karan & Arjun of Gujarat) were at the crease at the start of the last over, Daniel Sams pulled a massive rabbit out of the hat by only conceding 3 runs and brought victory to MI from the jaws of defeat. Mumbai had no business winning this game but beating the table toppers Gujarat will definitely provide them with some solace considering the miserable season they have had so far.

Game 52
Rajasthan Royals 190 for 4 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 68, Hetmyer 31*, Arshdeep 2/29) beat Punjab Kings 189 for 5 (Bairstow 56, Jitesh 38*, Chahal 3/28)

Punjab did a lot of things right in this game. They batted first and put on a massive total. They got most of Rajasthan’s stars including Buttler & Samson out quite cheaply too. But what they failed to plan for was an onslaught by the returning Yashasvi Jaiswal who reminded everyone about his presence in the IPL with a timely 68 of 41 balls. Hetmyer as usual put the finishing touches for the Royals and they once again banked two points from the win leaving Punjab searching for answers.

Game 53
Lucknow Super Giants 176 for 7 (De Kock 50, Hooda 41, Russell 2/22, Narine 1/20) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 101 all out (Russell 45, Mohsin Khan 1/6, Avesh Khan 3/19)

The short nature of a T20 game tends to reduce the gap between good and bad teams and ensures a more even contest but in this case KKR were horribly outplayed by LSG. Apart from the first week where they led the points table nothing has gone right for KKR. Their auction tactics have been criticized, the constant chopping and changing of their team has been criticized and the results are there for all to see. Chasing a par 176 they got bowled out for 101 in the 15th over. Andre Russell and Sunil Narine continue to their bit but unless they get some good support from the others it might be too late for ex-champions KKR to reach the playoffs.

Game 54
Royal Challengers Bangalore 192 for 3 (Du Plessis 73*, Patidar 48, Suchith 2/30) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 125 all out (Tripathi 58, Hasaranga 5/18, Hazlewood 2/17)

Apart from being a one sided contest this match will be remembered for 3 reasons. First of all, Dinesh Karthik’s impactful 30 not out in just 8 balls which included 4 sixes. His ability to go big from ball number is one is his biggest USP and might well be the reason he gets picked for team India again. The second was the second 5 wicket haul of the tournament courtesy Hasaranga who broke the back of the Hyderabad batting. Last but not the least both Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson got out for a duck in this game. Virat bagged his second golden duck of the season whereas Kane did one better by bagging a diamond duck.

Game 55
Chennai Super Kings 208 for 6 (Conway 87, Ruturaj 41, Khaleel 2/28) beat Delhi Capitals 117 all out (Marsh 25, Moeen Ali 3/13)

Devon Conway is an all format batting beast. There is saying in cricket that form is temporary and class is permanent but in the case of Conway both form and class are permanent. If you look at his first class and international stats over the last four years they are top notch. Runs in every format, all the time like a run scoring machine. CSK will rue the fact that they didn’t give him a consistent run at the top of the order from the start of the tournament. Delhi on the other hand would want to quickly forget this performance and think about their next game as they are still in with a chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

Game 56
Kolkata Knight Riders 165 for 9 (Iyer 43, Rana 43, Bumrah 5/10) beat Mumbai Indians 113 all out (Ishan Kishan 51, Cummins 3/22, Russell 2/22)

Earlier in the tournament I mentioned how rare it was to pick up a 5 wicket haul in a t20 game and yet end up on the losing side. Well, Umran Malik was the unlucky bowler in that instance and guess what it happened again. This time the unlucky bowler was Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah with figures of 4-1-10-5 single handedly restricted KKR to 165 but all the MI batters apart from Ishan Kishan collapsed in a heap to be bowled out for 113 in the 18th over. Mumbai are already out of playoff contentions but this loss would have definitely hurt their pride. KKR on the other hand live to fight another day by a whisker.

Game 57
Gujarat Titans 144 for 4 (Gill 63*, Avesh Khan 2/26, Mohsin Khan 1/18) beat Lucknow Super Giants 82 all out (Hooda 27, Rashid Khan 4/24, R Sai Kishore 2/7)

Everybody had their eyes on this game as the winner of this game would be the first team to qualify for the playoffs. It was expected to be a nail biter between the table toppers but turned out to be damp squib. LSG never turned up and in a low scoring game and Gujarat won by a whopping 62 runs. In any t20 game that is a huge margin of victory. But it is colossal considering LSG were only chasing 144 to win. Gujarat thus became the first team to qualify for the playoffs this year which is a phenomenal achievement considering it is their first year in the competition. What’s more is that they look like they have it in them to go all the way. Will they do it though? We will know for sure by the end of the month.

Game 58
Delhi Capitals 161 for 2 (Marsh 89, Warner 52, Boult 1/32) beat Rajasthan Royals 160 for 6 (Ashwin 50, Padikkal 48, Sakariya 2/23, Marsh 2/25)

Although the Royals are currently placed 3rd on the points table they are not looking as strong a force as they did at the start of the tournament. When they send Ashwin at no 3 ahead of Padikkal, Samson, Parag & Van Der Dussen the messaging has to clear to him that he is a pinch hitter and that his strike rate has to be upwards of 150. There is no point Ashwin batting ahead of the regular batters and scoring 50 of 38 balls.  Still with two games to go their future is still in their own hands and they are still in reckoning for the playoffs. For Delhi Mitch Marsh made the most of his good fortune to bat himself into form. They badly needed the win to keep their hopes alive and actually deserve any luck that comes their way after the bad luck they have had with Covid and injuries.