The league stage of the 2017 IPL concluded on Sunday with Rising Pune becoming the final team to seal a spot in the play-offs. The first qualifier match will be played on May 16 at the Wankhede Stadium between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant, while the Eliminator will be between defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad and and two-time winners KKR in Bangalore on May 17.
The second Qualifier will also be in Bangalore on May 19 and the final in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Tuesday May 16th First Qualifier
Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiants
The winner of this match goes directly to the final with nearlya week’s rest so it’s a huge game for both teams who finished 1st and 2nd in the group stages. Mumbai host the game as they topped the league. The loser will play against the winner of eliminator on 19th May.
Mumbai Indians won 10 matches of their 14 group matches but they lost both games played against their opponent here Rising Pune Supergiants this season. As their results indicate though, they are a strong team. Fast bowlers Bumrah and McClenaghan combined for 33 wickets in the group stages while batsmen like Pollard, Pateland Rana all scored over 300 runs.
Rising Pune Supergiants started the tournament slowly and lost three of their first four matches and then improved markedly to win eight matches of the next ten to finish second on the points table. Steve Smith scored over 400 runs, Tripathi nearly 400 and Unandkhat and Tahir combined for 39 wickets.
Both teams are without important English players, Buttler and Stokes having returned to the UK for the start of the International season. Stokes, with over 300 runs and 12 wickets in IPL 2017 is probably the bigger loss of the two.
Wednesday May 17th Eliminator
Sunrisers Hyderabad v KKR (in Bangalore)
The winner of this match, between the teams who finished 3rd and 4th in the group stages will then face the loser of the Mumbai/Pune match on May 19 in the second Qualifier.
Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner topped IPL 10’s batting charts with over 600 runs and will aim to emulate MS Dhoni by leading the team to a successful title defence. Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (25 wickets) and spinner Rashid Khan (17 wickets) have been crucial in their performance. Sunrisers lack some depth compared to other play-off sides. Occasional inconsistencies have come when Warner has failed for example, so they asa team are a bit more boom or bust than some others.
Gautam Gambhir, who captained Kolkata Knight Riders to triumph in 2012 and 2014, is also seeking a title hat-trick. KKR have a fearsome top 4 in the batting order when Gambhir and Uthappa, the most successful opening partnership in IPL history stepped down the order to 3 and 4 to allow Narine to pinch hit and the superb Chris Lynn to open the innings. Lynn has recovered from injury an has 285 runs in the IPL in five inning with 18 sixes. A real match winner if he comes off.
The match is played at a neutral ground, Bangalore, suiting big hitters.It entirely depends which batting order fires but my slight preference is for KKR because of depth yet they are marginal underdogs. Ladbrokes have them at Evens and Sunrisers a shade of odds.