It’s the final week of the Indian Premier League 2017, which means the playoff berths are all taken and the race to make it to the final has begun afresh.
Wisden India looks back at key moments from Week 6, which separated the men from the boys. From the Chris Lynn-Sunil Narine blitz to Hashim Amla’s grace, and from Shreyas Iyer’s bittersweet symphony to Martin Guptill’s flight of the bumblebee.
If one had to pick a moment to call it ‘the beginning of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s end’, it would have to be their game against Kolkata Knight Riders, when they were bowled out for 49 in pursuit of 132. In the return fixture at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, things were looking relatively better as they put up 158 for 6 with plenty of help from half-centuries from Mandeep Singh and Travis Head. That feel-good died in 36 balls as Narine and Lynn unleashed such carnage that 105 runs came in the Power Play with the loss of a wicket. Narine was out for 54 from 17 balls, equalling the record for the fastest IPL 50, and Lynn was gone for 50 from 22, but long before that, the game too was gone from Bangalore’s grasp.
Amla let down
Hashim Amla has made an art out of making the toughest of things seem all too simple to be true. Case in point: his second century this season; 104 from 60 balls with eight fours and five sixes to carry Kings XI Punjab to 189 against Gujarat Lions. A win here would’ve helped Punjab gain ground on the table and push for that playoff berth. It was nicely poised, until Punjab’s bowling landed it in all the wrong areas to Dwayne Smith (74) and the rest. That turned out to be the second time this season that an Amla century couldn’t get his team over the line.
Is there a classier cricketer than @amlahash. Super innings again, understated celebration. 190 not easy but still chasable for our boys.
— Brendon McCullum (@Bazmccullum) May 7, 2017
There it is ???????????????? well done @amlahash 2nd ???? what an innings
— David Warner (@davidwarner31) May 7, 2017
— Parvinder Awana (@ParvinderAwana) May 7, 2017
Iyer special, but no century
What’s with boys from Delhi Daredevils and their penchant for big knocks in pursuit of big scores? Not long after Rishabh Pant’s 97 had powered Delhi past Gujarat Lions’ 207, Iyer came to Delhi’s rescue in their chase of 195 against the same opposition. It wasn’t quite as refined as the innings from Pant, but Iyer took the game away en route to 96 from 57 balls. A century continued to elude Delhi but the win did briefly ignite hopes of a playoff berth.
The big game
Kings XI Punjab were fighting for a spot in the playoffs and Mumbai Indians were right on top. Their priorities were very different at this point, but Mumbai showed that they’re always up for a challenge. On the back of a fine 93 not out from Wriddhiman Saha and quick contributions from Glenn Maxwell and Martin Guptill at the top, Punjab made 230 – the highest score this season. Mumbai weren’t going down without a fight. Fiery half-centuries from Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard, and pacy 30s from Parthiv Patel and Hardik Pandya. With that, the equation came down to 16 from 6. Pollard ran one short intentionally and drew enough criticism going forward. Mohit Sharma conceded a six after but held his nerve thereon to give away just eight in an exciting clash.
The big flop
A win for Punjab in their last league game could’ve seen them make it to the playoffs ahead of Kolkata. Sunrisers Hyderabad delivered when they were pressed against the wall a day earlier, and Punjab would’ve fancied themselves against Rising Pune Supergiant. It wasn’t a good toss to lose but there isn’t an excuse for being bowled out for 73. Pune hunted that score down in 12 overs to finish second on the table, while Punjab ended fifth – among their better IPL performances – and crashed out of the tournament.
Best fielding moment
Picking between the Ben Stokes catch against Delhi and Martin Guptill’s catch against Mumbai was always going to be tough, but the New Zealander’s stunner will have to get the nod. Lendl Simmons, on 57, gave a full toss a good thwack and it looked headed over Guptill’s head at long-on. Guptill, waiting on the line, unleashed an epic leap and plucked the ball out of thin air with one hand. The control. The poise. The brilliance. Sorry, Mr Stokes.
Watch it here
“Absolutely PATHETIC that Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler have to go drink a few beers in Spain instead of playing IPL finals!” – Kevin Pietersen’s dismissive rant after the England and Wales Cricket Board summoned Stokes, Buttler and Chris Woakes to a training camp in Spain despite their respective teams making the playoffs.
Lynn and Narine added an astounding 105 runs in 36 balls to make it the highest ever score in the Power Play. It was also the joint fastest team century in IPL history. Narine equalled Yusuf Pathan’s record for the fastest IPL half-century, reaching his 50 from 15 balls.
Also read: Bangalore’s free fall and the Gayle rut
Game to look forward to
Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant
The perks of finishing 1 and 2 on the table is that you get two bites at the cherry. Not only that, a win in the Qualifier 1 means you get more time to prepare for the final. Going by Mumbai’s pedigree and track record this season, you’d expect them to see Pune off, but Steven Smith’s men have shown that it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.