The Indian Premier League 2018 league stage came to end last Sunday. Sunrisers Hyderabad qualifies as the number 1 team with the returning Chennai Super Kings in 2nd place ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals, both of whom secured their qualification on the final weekend. This was the tightest IPL we have witnessed till now with the difference between the first and last placed teams being just 8. Delhi Daredevils resurgence wasn’t enough to paper over what has been a really disappointing season, however, the teams which would be the most disappointed from their performance this season are Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab.
KXIP were top of the table at the half-way stage but endured a horrible run in their last 8 matches which eventually saw them finish shockingly 7th on the table, while RCB who arguably have the two best batsmen in the world struggled all season to find the consistency required to go through to the playoff stage. Defending Champions Mumbai Indians started the season in a typically disappointing fashion but changed the momentum soon after the initial few weeks. However, final day defeat against Delhi Daredevils knocked them out of the tournament and with that one big contender for the title was gone. IPL 2018 Playoffs will see SRH take on CSK in the Qualifier 1 with KKR taking on RR in Eliminator 1 at the Eden Gardens. Remember the Final will be held at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on 27th May. In this article, we will look at the four teams in the playoff and try and answer the all-important question – IPL Playoffs 2018: Who will win IPL 2018?
After losing David Warner prior to the start of IPL 2018, many people feared for Sunrisers Hyderabad. However, Kane Williamson appointment as the captain worked wonders for the franchise as they not only good a capable captain but a fantastic batsman who flourished under the added responsibility. The Kiwi international has been the best player for the franchise, but their biggest match winner was their bowling unit, which on more than one occasion won the match for the team at times when the batting unit underperformed. However, they enter the playoffs on a three losing streak, something that will definitely worry the SRH team management. Even the batting performance against CSK in qualifier 1 as nothing to write home about. The weakness has been the middle-order and if they are to win the championship one or two players apart from the top 3 have to contribute to the batting effort.
Sunrisers Hyderabad definitely have the bowling line-up to win them the title and in Kane Williamson the form player of the league but if the other batters don’t contribute more it will be extremely hard for them to win their 2nd IPL Championship.
Chances – 8/10
Chennai Super Kings
Even though CSK have been out of the IPL for the past 2 seasons, no one was ever going to underestimate them especially with MS Dhoni leading the team. For all the CSK fans, the team hasn’t disappointed and has performed above expectations with a squad that is the oldest in the league but by far the most experienced. The biggest positive for the franchise has been the form of their captain MS Dhoni. The former Indian captain has scored 452 runs this season at an average of 90.40, his ability to finish game has come saved his team on more than one occasion. Ambati Rayudu has been another big player for the team and has scored runs in abundance, helping his team get those perfect starts.
However, the most impressive thing about this CSK team 2018 is the togetherness in the squad and the complete team effort that is working for the franchise more than anything else. Dhoni has been brilliant at using his experienced resources in perfect places and from here on, it will be extremely difficult to beat a team that has around 6-7 bowling options and bats till number 9, not to forget the most successful Indian captain leading them.
Chances – 9/10
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders looked down and out at one stage of the tournament but three consecutive wins at the end of the league stage propelled the team to the playoff round. The west Indian duo of Andre Russel and Sunil Narine have been fantastic both with bat and ball, which is one of the reasons for their place in the last 4. Post Gautam Gambhir era, Dinesh Karthik has done very well captaining the team, at points, he has looked a little lost but overall he has been a fantastic replacement. Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the most balanced teams in the league and with players like Lynn and Uthappa starting to come good in the last few matches, one feels that reaching the Final should be least they would achieve this season but then they have had an issue with producing performances on a consistent basis and if the opposition can rattle them at the start of the match, it will be highly difficult task for this KKR side.
Kolkata Knight Riders are a highly talented squad that has good bunch of young players who are surely set to flourish in seasons to come but this season the task could be a bit too far for them. However, with players like Lynn, Narine and Russel in the squad, you would be silly to write them off.
Chances – 7/10
At the half-way stage, no one gave Rajasthan Royals a chance but the Ajinkya Rahane team managed to sneak into the playoff round thanks to 4 big wins in their last 5 matches. Unfortunately for the franchise, the player who single-handedly drove them to the last 4, Jos Buttler has left the squad to join up with the England national team in order to prepare for the test series against Pakistan. He will be missed a lot by RR team but they showed in their last match against RCB that even without the English duo of Buttler and Stokes that they can achieve success and for them self-belief will be hugely important if they were to win the IPL 2018 Title.
RR have lost both their matches against KKR this season so the first thing they need to do is change that trend in the Eliminator 1. KKR is very strong at Eden Gardens and it will be a tough task for RR to get over the line in the first hurdle itself.
Chances – 6/10
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