With only a couple of days to go until the big final the Gujarat Titans wait to see who their opponent will be. Will it be the Rajasthan Royals or will it be the Royal Challengers Bangalore? Cricket analyst Rahul Patil analyses all the action from Week 9.

Game 67
Royal Challengers Bangalore 170 for 2 (Kohli 73, Maxwell 40*, Sai Kishore 0/20) beat Gujarat Titans 168 for 5 (Hardik Pandya 62*, Miller 34, Hasaranga 1/25)

If you needed a good example to explain “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” Virat Kohli’s innings in a must win game against GT would be a great example. RCB had to win this game to keep their hopes alive of making it to the playoffs. After winning the toss GT who had already qualified for the playoffs tried to test themselves by setting a target. They did a decent job of it too thanks to an attractive 62 not out from their captain Hardik Pandya. Chasing 169 for a win Kohli chose the most appropriate time to strike form. The Virat of old was back and the full repertoire his shots was on display. He drove, he pulled, he cut and he punched at will to seal the deal for RCB in the company of captain Faf du Plessis and the aggressive Glenn Maxwell. RCB now need the Mumbai Indians to do them a favor and beat the Delhi Capitals in their last league match so that RCB can qualify for the playoffs. Until then they just wait, watch and pray.

Game 68
Rajasthan Royals 151 for 5 (Jaiswal 59, Ashwin 40*, Moeen Ali 1/21, Santner 1/15) beat Chennai Super Kings 150 for 6 (Moeen Ali 93, McCoy 2/20, Chahal 2/26)

Although this game was inconsequential for CSK their opponent’s RR desperately wanted to win it so that they could displace LSG and grab the second place on the league table which would guarantee them a second chance of qualifying for the final if they lost the first game in the playoffs. Batting first in a weird CSK innings Moeen Ali top scored with 93 but CSK only reached 150 as none of the other batters could come to terms with the surface. In the run chase just when it looked like RR were losing their way Ravichandran Ashwin played a blinder with an innings of 40 not out in just 23 balls to win them the game and secure their second spot on the points table.

Game 69
Mumbai Indians 160 for 5 (Ishan Kishan 48, Tim David 34, Thakur 2/32) beat Delhi Capitals 159 for 7 (Powell 43, Pant 39, Bumrah 3/25)

The equation was simple for Delhi. Win this game and qualify for the playoffs but they made a royal (pun unintended) hash of it. Asked to bat first on a good pitch they only managed 159 in their 20 overs as all their batters for some bizarre reason batted with a defensive mindset rather than going all out and attacking in a must win game. In the run chase they had Mumbai at 95 for 3 requiring 65 of 33 balls to win. Tim David facing his first ball got a faint edge that was pouched by captain and keeper Pant. DC appealed but the umpire gave it not out. DC had two reviews left and their playoff qualifications were hanging by a thread and yet once again for some bizarre reason they chose not to review the umpire’s decision. Replays confirmed that Tim David had indeed edged the ball and DC were left clutching straws. Rubbing salt on their wounds David then went on to smash 34 of 11 balls to win the game for MI. DC captain had a really poor game with the bat, with the gloves and with his captaincy. DC were knocked out of the tournament and celebrations started in the RCB camp as their prayers for a DC loss had been answered by MI.

Game 70
Punjab Kings 160 for 5 (Livingstone 49*, Dhawan 39, Farooqi 2/32) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 157 for 8 (Abhishek Sharma 43, Romario Shepherd 26*, Harpreet Brar 3/26)

In the most inconsequential game of the tournament the Punjab Kings improved their standing on the league points table with a comfortable win over SRH. With a new captain in Bhuvneshwar Kumar as regular captain Kane Williamson returned home for the birth of his second child SRH looked listless with both bat and ball. Batting first they only managed 157 which was way below par against a strong Punjab batting line up. As expected Punjab reached the target with almost five overs to spare with Liam Livingstone signing off an extremely impressive IPL season with a swashbuckling 49 not out of just 22 balls which included five massive sixes.

Playoffs Qualifier 1

Gujarat Titans 191 for 3 (Miller 68*, Hardik Pandya 40*, Chahal 0/32) beat Rajasthan Royals 188 for 6 (Buttler 89*, Samson 47, Rashid Khan 0/15)

David Miller’s batting philosophy is pretty simple. “If it (the ball) is in the V, hit it to the top of a tree and if it is the arc then hit it out of the park”. Having a philosophy like this one is great. Executing it in an IPL playoff game against a strong RR bowling attack comprising of five international bowlers and in front of a capacity crowd of 70000 at the historic Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata is epic.

The GT love chasing targets which is why captain Hardik Pandya had no hesitation in fielding first after winning the toss. Thanks to a counter attacking 26 ball 47 by RR captain Sanju Samson & an extremely late surge by the tournaments highest scorer Jos Buttler the Royals managed an impressive 188 in their 20 overs. Buttler who at one stage was struggling with 39 of 38 deliveries flicked a switch and finished with 89 of 66 balls i.e. a whopping 50 runs of his last 18 deliveries.

Although all the Gujarat Titans bowlers were expensive one man walked off the field with his head held high – Rashid Khan. In a match where batters from both teams scored at 9.5 runs per over Rashid bowled his quota of 4 overs for only 15 runs i.e. an economy rate of 3.75 runs per over. There is a reason why Rashid Khan is considered to be the GOAT (Greatest of all time) as far as T20 cricket is concerned and he just added to his legacy with yet another phenomenal performance.

In the run chase a useful 71 run partnership of just 43 balls between Shubhman Gill and Matthew Wade set the platform for their power hitters to come in and finish the job. When they both were dismissed in quick succession the score was 85 for 3 and the match was in the balance. But the next two batters i.e. captain Hardik Pandya and David “The Killer” Miller launched a vicious attack on all the Royals bowlers and dispatched them to all parts of the ground and at time beyond the boundary too. With 23 required of the final two overs the expectation was that the Titans would go big in over number 19 and try to finish the game, but West Indian Obed McCoy bowled superbly under pressure conceding only seven runs which meant 16 were still needed of the final over.

David Miller is a well-respected finisher in international cricket for South Africa. He has also made a name for himself in t20 franchise tournaments around the world. But until this season his credentials in the IPL were not proven. Yes, he played the odd good innings here and there but had never been as consistent as he has been this year. On strike requiring 16 to win cool as a cucumber he calmly unleashed three of the cleanest hits of the match to send the ball into the stands and booked Gujarat’s place in the final. It is a remarkable achievement for a brand new franchise to reach the final in their debut season.

Rajasthan on the other hand have both the highest run scorer of the tournament in Jos Buttler and the highest wicket taker of the tournament in Yuzuvendra Chahal but the truth of the matter is that they crumbled under the pressure. Although Jos Buttler scored 89 not out of 56 balls it hides the fact that his dot ball percentage is the highest in the tournament. Thankfully having finished second on the table in the league stage Rajasthan have another chance of qualifying for the finals when they play the winner of the Lucknow vs Bangalore game.

Playoffs Eliminator 2

Royal Challengers Bangalore 207 for 4 (Patidar 112*, Karthik 37*, Mohsin 1/25) beat Lucknow Super Giants 193 for 6 (K L Rahul 79, Hooda 45, Harshal Patel 1/25)

Luck and peaking at the right time in a long tournament are key factors in winning. RCB were lucky to qualify for the playoffs when Mumbai beat Delhi in their last league game and today in defeating LSG they played like a true champion team that is peaking at the right time.

With rain around LSH had no hesitation in winning the toss and fielding first. RCB lost their captain Faf Du Plessis for a blob and Virat Kohli at the other end was struggling to score any faster than run a ball. To win knockout matches teams need a Hero and RCB found theirs today in the form of Rajat Patidar. Patidar this year went unsold in the auction in February. RCB brought him in as a replacement for the injured Luvnith Sisodia in early April after the tournament had already started. Patidar though made the most of his opportunity at no 3 with an outstanding 112 not out of only 54 balls. The innings was decorated with 12 boundaries and 7 sixes. The innings will be remembered for a long time due as it came in a winning cause, in an IPL playoff game, against a good bowling attack and in front of 70000 screaming fans. Dinesh Karthik continued his terrific form in the tournament by putting the icing on the cake for RCB with an unbeaten 37 of 24 balls. The duo shared an unbeaten partnership of 92 in only 41 deliveries and helped RCB to 207 for 4 in their 20 overs.

The ever-impressive Mohsin Khan was the only LSG bowler to survive the Patidar and Karthik onslaught and finished with supremely impressive figures of 1 for 25 of his 4 overs.

To chase down such a mammoth total the chasing team requires at least two individuals to make substantial contributions with the bat. For a while it looked like captain K L Rahul and Deepak Hooda might be those two individuals to do it for LSG but Rahul got stuck in rut trying to anchor the innings and Hooda was dismissed trying to keep the asking rate in check. Although Rahul finished with 79 of 58 balls it was a poor innings in the context of the game i.e., at the start of their innings LSG needed to score at 10.4 runs per over to win the game. Rahul’s 79 of 58 meant that he scored at 8.4 runs per over. This means that all the other LSG batters had to score at 12.55 runs per over to win the game which is a huge ask. This is doable if you have players like Tim David, Dinesh Karthik, Liam Livingstone, Andre Russell and Glenn Maxwell in your side, but LSG had none of these and fell short of the target by 15 runs. Nevertheless it’s been an impressive debut for LSG in the IPL and they should be very proud of their efforts.

For RCB the ever-reliable Harshal Patel once again produced a magical spell of 4-0-25-1 to keep LSG at bay and take RCB a step closer to their first ever IPL title. They now play the Rajasthan Royals to decide who will meet the Gujarat Titans in the final. As always the final stage of the IPL delivers unlimited excitement. Sit back relax and enjoy the action.