CSK see the finish line, Kings XI pray and hope

Amol Gokhale
Sunday, 20 May 2018

Pune: Until the result of the match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Indian Premier League (IPL) points table looked like an ‘Enigma’, with million possibilities with five teams in contention for the final two spots in the playoffs.

But, after RCB’s meek surrender from a point where they looked in a strong position, means that they are out of the frame, but it still leaves all to play for and the riddle of top four still unanswered.

Pune: Until the result of the match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Indian Premier League (IPL) points table looked like an ‘Enigma’, with million possibilities with five teams in contention for the final two spots in the playoffs.

But, after RCB’s meek surrender from a point where they looked in a strong position, means that they are out of the frame, but it still leaves all to play for and the riddle of top four still unanswered.

On Sunday, when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will face opponents Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at the MCA International Stadium in the last league match of the 11th edition of the IPL, one might be close to answering the riddle but one needs to wait till the last ball of the match is bowled. 

Despite the fact that now RCB cannot qualify, by the time Kings XI Punjab players wake up, they might see that there is just one slot up for grabs if Kolkata Knight Riders win their game against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Chennai Super Kings will also be keeping an eye on Saturday night’s other result as Sunrisers victory will ensure them top two finish, which guarantees them another shot at final if they fail to make it in the first attempt.

And, by the time the first ball is bowled, things might even be out of Punjab’s hands if Mumbai Indians win their game at the Wankhede Stadium against bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils.

On field affairs
Coming to the on-field matters, both home side and visitors come into the final league game on the back of the shock defeats in their previous outings against Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians respectively.

Just when CSK and KXIP looked on course to win after the kind of start they had, things took the turn in different directions. 
It has been a similar story for Chennai and Punjab as the top order has fired consistently but once the top order is back in the hut, the rest of the team has failed to pick up the pieces.

MS Dhoni after their loss against DD mentioned that his team needs to sort out the death bowling, while middle order needs to be ready for their chances hereon.

On the other hand, Ravichandran Ashwin also needs his middle order to fire as KL Rahul and Chris Gayle cannot alone win matches. In the bowling department, Andrew Tye has kept a strong hold on the purple cap for most wickets, but on the eve of the match Kings XI coach Brad Hodge hoped that Afghanistan sensation Mujeeb Ur Rahman will past the fitness test, whose absence has hurt his side the most.

Pray and hope
“Pray and hope!” was the brief answer by Hodge when asked about how his team is approaching the game when most of the things are out of their hands.

“Pray and hope! I just hope we are in a position tomorrow where we can go out there and give an entertaining performance and try and make playoffs,”  said the 43-year-old coach.

When the last ball will be bowled on Sunday night, the ‘Enigma’ will no longer be an Enigma, but all Kings XI Punjab players can do is pray and hope, while their counterparts need to ensure that there is no miracle which hampers their own campaign.

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