The “IPL Playoff” has been part of the tournament since 2011. Before that, like most multi-team tournaments, the top 4 teams would qualify for the semifinal on equal merit and battle it out to reach the final. But in 2011, the format changed for the better. Extra impetus was handed over to the top two teams from the group stages. They would be given two chances to qualify for the final instead of one. Qualifier 1 would see the winner advance to the final, and the loser would play the winner of Qualifier 2 (between 3rd and 4th placed teams) for a place in the final. Thus, a team finishing 3rd or 4th would have to win three consecutive matches to win the title.
IPL 2019 is already swiftly heading to the playoff stages. As of now, KKR, RR, and RCB seem to be out of the race, while KXIP, SRH, and MI seem to be battling for 3rd and 4th place. CSK and DC seem safer at the top, but a few losses could change that order.
Let’s take a look at 3 memorable IPL playoff games (not including the final) since 2011:
RR v/s SRH (Eliminator, 2013)
Back in 2013, Rahul Dravid was still opening the innings for and captaining the Rajasthan Royals. SRH was in its first year, and they put on a paltry 132 in the eliminator. But the Royals top order – including Rahane and Watson – imploded and they were 57/5 in 10 overs. Which is when Brad Hodge, who was back then the most experienced T20 player in the world, walked in. He turned the game on its head with a spectacular assault: an unbeaten 54 off 27. And his 33-run sixth wicket partnership with James Faulkner sealed the deal. Hodge was the hero of an unlikely run chase with one of the coolest displays of destruction in IPL cricket.
KXIP v/s CSK (Qualifier 2, 2014)
Not exactly a cliffhanger, this. But easily the most high-scoring and electric playoff of the IPL. KXIP’s dream run in 2014 peaked when they defeated CSK in this game. A Virender Sehwag century meant that KXIP scored a mammoth 226. But CSK isn’t known to go down with a whimper. They came out all guns blazing. Suresh Raina was well on his way to the fastest ever T20 century and CSK reached their 100 in just 6 overs. Raina then fell for an astonishing 87 (25), after which McCullum, Dhoni and David Hussey failed to continue the momentum. CSK scored only 100 runs in the next 14 overs, and ended up losing by 24 runs despite having 4 wickets in hand. Raina’s innings, though, even trumped Sehwag’s for its sheer belligerent beauty.
SRH v/s KKR (Qualifier 2, 2018)
It was one of the greatest individual all-round performances in T20 cricket. Rashid Khan scored 34 off 10 balls to drag SRH to 174, before picking 3/19 and a stunning few catches to restrict a superb KKR team to 160 at Eden Gardens. He picked up Lynn, Uthappa and Russell, three of KKR’s batting mainstays, mesmerizing an Eden Gardens crowd that applauded the Afghan spinner’s brilliance.
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