So finally league matches at IPL 2017 have come to end. Playoff teams have been decided. It has been a tightly fought tournament so far. The gap between those who are in the play-off and those who are not is subtle, very subtle. All the eight franchises are full of talented youngsters and proven match winners.
Other day I was reading blog by Jacques Kallis, the legendary South African and chief coach of KKR. Kallis opined that the difference between best and worst team in IPL 2017 is not more than 5%. Kallis was actually spot on with this statement. It’s all depend how you put your act together on given day. Can be a king today and pauper next day.
Look at the top two teams at league stage in 2016, RCB and GL. With same set of players, these two teams are at the bottom just a year later in 2107.
But as mentioned, fight was close, which is marked by two facts. Seven out of eights were in the fray for play-off spot till very later stage of group matches. Moreover final play-off line up was only decided in the penultimate game of league stage.
Teams were so neck to neck that had RPS lost their last match against KXIP, they would have knock out, whereas a victory in this match not only put them in play-off but also catapulted them to number two spot. Now RPS will play with MI for the first spot in final now.
RPS has been the most outstanding team in IPL 2017 over the past fortnight. They did something which RCB did last year. RCB last year ended at number two in point table even after a sloppy start because of outstanding show in last few matches. RPS was at the seventh position in point table at one point in time this year but then they won five out of their last six matches.
On other hand KKR did the opposite. Once looking for top spot in table, KKR finished at number four. They lost four out of their last five matches.
In any tournament, peaking at the right time is the key. In 1992 and 1999 World Cup Pakistan and Australia were mediocre during early stage but struck form in the final stage of the tournament and finally lifted the trophy.
Moreover you are as good or as bad as your form in last few games. Going by this logic, RPS and SRH look strong contender. All of sudden KKR is looking jaded. MI though over all looks good but slipped off late a bit. Out of four matches MI lost in 14 league matches, two were in last three matches, MI played. Particularly the way they chocked against KXIP in their penultimate match, would have hurt their confidence.
Nonetheless it would be fierce battle in play-off and by and large it is fight among equals. The team who would manage its nerves better will lift the IPL 2017.
(The author is NewsMobile iJourno)