After much drama, fist-pumping, broken hearts and general emotional atyachaar, the four teams that have qualified for the IPL playoffs are the Gujarat Lions, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Kolkata Knightriders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad. This post will explain the IPL Playoff Structure and will also cover our top fantasy cricket picks for Qualifier 1 – GL v RCB. Enjoy!
The IPL Playoff Structure: The IPL playoffs were invented in the wake of the Champions League T20. As only three teams qualified from each country, it was important to determine which team placed 3rd in the title race. Even though the Champions League T20 itself has been abandoned, the playoffs continue. The IPL Playoffs work as follows:
- Qualifier 1 (GL v RCB) – The teams placed 1st and 2nd in the league stage play the first game. The winner of “Qualifier 1” goes straight through the IPL Finals. The loser goes through to Qualifier 2 for a second chance at getting into the finals.
- Eliminator (KKR v SRH) – The teams placed 3rd and 4th in the league stage play the second game. A knock-out game. The winner of this “Eliminator” goes through to Qualifier 2.
- Qualifier 2 – The loser of Qualifier 1 meets the winner of the Eliminator in this knock-out game. The winner of Qualifier 2 goes through to the IPL finals.
- IPL Finals – The excitement reaches a deafening crescendo when the winner of Qualifier 1 meets the winner of Qualifier 2 for the grande finale. Nearly two months of non-stop cricket all come down to this!
As you can see from the above, the IPL rewards consistency and Qualifier 1 is extremely important. The winner goes straight to the IPL Finals but the loser still gets a second chance, something that life generally doesn’t offer losers.
The Teams: Coming back to the game on Tuesday, GL has had quite a smooth journey to the top of the table. The playoffs are par-for-the-course for the likes of McCullum, Raina, Smith, DJ Bravo and Sir Jadeja and they are all used to playing under the added pressure – their erstwhile employer CSK made it into the playoffs every year! RCB’s campaign, on the other hand, got off to a horrendous start but Kohli managed to spark them into life at just the right time. RCB look hungry for the trophy and Kohli looks like he will go to any lengths to grab this one, including continuing to play with an injured hand. However, despite having the Purple Cap holder in his ranks, Kohli will be aware that RCB’s bowling remains a weak link.
The Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. Undoubtedly one of this year’s flattest tracks, this ground can be expected to live up to its reputation as a batting paradise. In the last game here, RCB scored 211/3 in 15 overs with a Gayle special of 73 and yet another Kohli century! The Bangalore crowd is devoted in it’s worship of RCB so expect the RCB players to lift their game in front of their home supporters.
Our picks for your fantasy team
Virat Kohli – Nine years after the IPL was conceived, Virat Kohli could soon become the first batsman to score more than a 1000 runs in a single season- the mind boggles! He has already crossed 1500 runs in T20s in 2016 and with a minimum of two further matches to play this IPL, expect all sorts of records to crumble in his wake.
Dwayne Smith – Smith, an opening batsman at the start of this year’s IPL, is slowly becoming a first change bowler and middle order batsman for GL. He has provided crucial breakthroughs for GL in their last few games, including an incredible spell of 4 wickets for 8 runs against KKR! It will be interesting to see whether he opens the batting or whether GL wants to save him for the middle order. Either way, Dwayne Smith remains a top pick.
Yuzvendra Chahal – Our wildcard pick for this game, Chahal has proven to be the pick of the bowlers in RCB’s lineup. He is currently the IPL’s highest wicket-taker and Purple Cap holder, even though he has played only 11 games this season! Picking up wickets seems to be a piece of cake for him and Kohli will look to him to bamboozle GL line-up with his big leg breaks and googlies.
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(Original cover artwork by Ishita Mohanty. She tweets here.)