It is the final week of the DLF IPL 2012 season. After a marathon run of 72 matches played across the length and breadth of India(9 teams playing each other twice), the playoff line up is decided. The last match is under progress as I write this piece.
It promises to be an exciting play off week, especially after lots of off-field action. Nonetheless, it has been a super tournament, loaded with cliff hangers and heart breakers.
Let us look at the teams who are in fray in the final week (and who couldn't make it to the last week).
The Also Rans
Pune Warriors finished last in the table. Under the leadership of Ganguly, and in the absence of Yuvraj, the team could not do much - winning just 4 matches.
Deccan Chargers also finished with 4 wins, and 9 points. The stand out point for DC in this year's tournament was Dayle Styen. He bowled like a champion and affirmed his place as the best fast bowler in the world today.
|Dale Steyn Dalai Lama|
Rajasthan Royals, under Rahul Dravid and Kings XI Punjab, under Adam Gilchrist did a respectable job by finishing in the middle of the table. They were in the fray to go into the playoffs but couldn't give the final push. RR didn't miss Shane Warne this year, and did well under Rahul.
RCB, whose fortunes were guided by Vettori and Virat Kohli fell at the final hurdle. They couldn't score 130 odd runs against DC in their last group match and failed to progress into the playoffs. It would be a huge disappointment for Chris Gayle, who played like a champion all season.
The Potential Champions
4 teams across India hold the key to be the champions of IPL 2012. They are - Delhi Daredevils (DD), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
It has been an extremely sucessful tournament for DD and KKR. Under the leadership of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, both of them have excelled from the moment go.
They do not have any star player akin Chris Gayle of RCB. Yet, they have gelled well as a team and come out with flying colors. If there were any teams who were sure to be in the playoffs based on the results of the initial matches, it was DD and KKR.
|Virender Sehwag Gautam Gambhir|
Mumbai Indian has also made its way into the playoffs at the number 3 spot. Led by Harbhajan Singh, backed by Sachin Tendulkar, and with the likes of Keiron Pollard and Dwayne Smith in their team, they have chugged into the final 4.
One thing that unites RCB, KKR and MI is that they are led by players who were not considered worthwhile for the post of vice-captain of the Indian cricket team.
Virat Kohli was chosen over Sehwag and Gambhir, and both these players have proved a point with this IPL. Harbhajan was even dropped from the team, and here he is leading a million $ team in the playoffs.
Last but not the least is Chennai Super King. Under the leadership of the Indian captain, Mahender Singh Dhoni, CSK got a back door entry into the playoffs when RCB lost to DC in the penultimate match of the group stage today.
The Playoff Schedule
The first qualifier is scheduled in Pune between DD and KKR on 22nd May 2012. The winner of this match goes directly into the finals.
MI and CSK play the eliminator on 23rd May 2012 in Bangalore. The winner of this match plays the loser of the first qualifier, on 25th May 2012, in Chennai, for a shot in the finals.
The final is scheduled in Chennai on 27th May 2012. Let the best team win.
The Off Field Antics
The IPL 2012 was loaded with lots of off-field antics.
It started with Pune Warriors pulling out of the IPL, only to join the party later. Disappointingly, they finished last.
A week or so earlier, 5 players were caught on camera willing to accept a bribe for spot fixing. The players were not known names. However, spot fixing had cast its shadow and threatened to open a Pandora's box.
Just a few days later, Shahrukh Khan (SRK), owner of KKR, had a fracas with the security after the match against MI. This story became a national headline, and almost become a battle against a super star, who claimed just to be a proud parent preventing his kids from being man handled.
|SRK Scuffle at MCA|
|SRK Off Field Antics|
If this was not enough, a RCB player - Aussie Luke Pomersbach - was accused by a lady of molesting her and hitting her boyfriend. This incident snowballed when Siddarth Mallya was served a legal notice for questioning the lady's character with some loose comments on Twitter.
All in all, it has been an exciting IPL. I couldn't follow much it. However, it has been an intense topic of discussions during tea and lunch breaks. The off-field antics notwithstanding, it is cricket that promises to come up as a winner in the next week.
It has been a heady mix of Politics, Religion, Entertainment, Business and Sports.
Going by the form book, I think KKR would win the DLF IPL 2012.
Who is your choice for the IPL 2012 Champions Tag??