With just a few days to go to the semi-finals, this- I must admit- is probably the most competitive Champion’s League group stage over the last three years. That automatically implies that the teams involved are cancelling eachother out with quality and ineptness alike, and end result is too close to call. Whatever it is, everything will be over by tomorrow night- and we will have the final four. As of now, the much-hyped and derided IPL teams look in danger of doing what they did so well in 2009. FAIL.
So here are the delicious possibilities, based on the current situation as well as intuition, sixth senses and a bit of statistical jargon:
Hit ‘n Miss
Group of Death, as the old Shastrisque cliché goes. Mumbai Indians were well on par for a berth after two wins. Rain saved them from a probable defeat without playing a ball against the Cobras- probably their toughest game. And then, of course, the law of averages caught up with them against New South Wales. All they can do now is sit back and hope for the following scenario:
-That Trinidad & Tobago BEAT the Cobras today. The Cobras will surely be out of the competition then, and Mumbai will be through. However, if Cobras win, they will reach 5 points and edge Mumbai on a superior NRR. Mumbai still have a chance on 5 points, ONLY if The SuperKings (who look the least likely to advance- surprise surprise!) beat a charging Wales outfit.
-However, if Wales beats CSK, which looks likely on form, Wales and Cobras will go through- leaving Mumbai in a helpless lurch. MI are the only team with all their games played out, and it is a tough situation to be in. Their destiny lies in the hands of Trinidad & Tobago as well as the SuperKings. Time for Dhoni to repay Harbhajan for finally exiting the Indian team and making way for a better spinner?
The situation will be resolved by tonight, with Group A certain to give rise to a few surprises. Trinidad can pull off a Vettel of 2010 (and advance with Mumbai) if they beat the Cobras HEAVILY and Chennai beat New South Wales heavily. That is the unlikeliest scenario, though, and we know only one thing for sure: Another Dhoni-led team has run out of luck, ideas and steam.
Things were blown wide open last night when Bangalore, yet again on the back of a Gaylestorm, absolutely mauled a Somerset team that were yet to be beaten in the entire tournament- right from qualifying to the main stages. Sadly for Somerset, this loss may have sealed their fate and NRR, such is the fickle game of T20 cricket. A 50-run loss could spell doom for anybody but…South Australia!
KKR have played their games, and now face the nail-biting prospect of resting in their custom-warmed Jacuzzis and watching the Wednesday games in the discomfort of their hotel rooms. Knowing their luck, they won’t make it. Sorry, SRK, but RA.One is your only hope now.
– A massive game that will seal the fate of most teams in this group will be the first of two games: Somerset v/s Warriors. Warriors are in pole position to go through with the highest NRR and with 4 points with a game in hand. If they beat Somerset, that’s about it for the English team. Also, in the second game, South Australia NEED to win to go through on points. Their NRR is too weak for them to bother with permutations, and if Gayle doesn’t fire, they do stand a good chance of going through ahead of the Knight Riders.
-If Somerset beats Warriors and RCB beat South Australia, there could be a shock semi-finalist line-up in Somerset and RCB (purely on NRR).
Sri Lankan Stumper
As of now, on current form, it looks like the Warriors and a charged-up South Australia outfit might make it to the final four.
It is too close to call, but for the first time in 3 editions, the fight for the final four spots goes down to the FINAL matches of each team in the group stages.
Was this what the League needed? We may find out, by Wednesday night. A few upsets, like IPL teams making it through, would do a world of good to the already-dwindling proportion of T20 enthusiasts visiting the stadiums in question.
Chennai? No chance. Bangalore, maybe.
Cliffhanger. It could be anybody, because no team is officially out of the competition yet. A minor miracle, that, in itself.