The league stage of IPL 2022 has finally ended, with the fourth and final playoff spot being guaranteed on Saturday once last-placed Mumbai Indians defeated Delhi Capitals to confirm that Royal Challengers Bangalore would progress.
Here’s a recap of the major talking points from May 16-22.
KKR ELIMINATED AFTER SEASON’S BEST THRILLER
It had been widely deduced that Lucknow Super Giants had a problem in the middle, so in their final league match the team’s two most important batsmen decided to take the middle order out of the equation. Before LSG’s match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Navi Mumbai last Wednesday, their numbers three to six had averaged 21.88 in IPL 2022, the worst for all teams. KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock, their openers, had averaged 36.13 together, which is the second-best in the tournament.
Come match day, and the two LSG openers combined to bat out all 20 overs to put up 210 for no loss against KKR. In doing so, Rahul and de Kock disturbed a slew of records – including becoming the first pair to bat through an IPL innings – and entirely avoided LSG’s middle order, a major weak point, even having to bat.
Chasing 211, however, KKR put up a performance that left viewers enthralled and nearly ended up winning. After the loss of the openers for single figures, KKR captain Shreyas Iyer (50) and Nitish Rana (42) kept pace with the asking rat. Iyer become Marcus Stoinis’ first wicket of the evening in a period in which LSG hit back, but then came a stunning counter-punch from Rinku Singh (40 off 15) and Sunil Narine (21* off seven) that so sealed the chase of the tournament.
Rinku and Narine hit 17 off Jason Holder in the 19th over to leave the asking at 21 from the final over, bowled by Stoinis. Rinku teed off by hitting the Australian for a four and two sixes followed by a sprinted two, which left KKR needing three runs off two deliveries. Then, stepping out of his crease, the left-hander sliced the ball over the offside and it looked like he would get two more, except that the boundary rider Evin Lewis ran in and grabbed the dipping ball in his left hand. That sensational effort – surely one of the all-time best catches in the IPL – brought to the crease Umesh Yadav, who had his stumps disturbed by a very canny yorker from Stoinis. This thrilling end to a riveting match meant that LSG joined fellow new franchise Gujarat Titans in the playoffs.
KOHLI FINDS FORM, RCB MOVE TO FOURTH
In their must-win last league match, RCB kept themselves in the tournament with an eight-wicket win over Gurajat highlighted by Virat Kohli finding a semblance of form in an otherwise dismal IPL season. Set a target of 169, RCB were indebted to Kohli’s 54-ball 73 as well as skipper Faf du Plessis’ 44 and Glenn Maxwell’s typically pugnacious 43* off 18 balls.
Kohli’s form has been almost a national talking point all tournament, and with three ducks this truly was a very sorry run of form. But in a must-win scenario, Kohli produced some excellent shots to score his second half-century of the season, one celebrated rather emphatically. With du Plessis, Kohli led an opening stand of 115 that hastened RCB’s victory over Gujarat – one that kept them in the competition, but just.
“I have worked really hard. Before this game, I batted non-stop in the nets for 90 minutes. I came in very free and relaxed,” was Kohli’s assessment when asked after the match what he had changed.
ALL-ROUND ASHWIN STARS, RAJASTHAN TAKE SECOND SPOT
Before this edition of the IPL, R Ashwin had never touched 150 runs in any season, or scored a half-century, and the most sixes he’d ever hit in a single IPL was the five he managed in 2018 when he was leading Kings XI Punjab. In 2022, for a new franchise in Rajasthan Royals, Ashwin has scored 183 runs at 30.28 and a strike-rate of 146.40, with one fifty and nine sixes.
Key to this has been RR’s decision to use him at No 3 in a few games, which resulted in Ashwin’s first IPL fifty (50 off 38 balls vs DC). During RR’s final league match versus Chennai Super Kings, Ashwin followed another economical outing with the ball by putting the finishing touches on a chase of 151 with 40* off 23 balls.
Yashasvi Jaiswal’s 59 held one end together for Rajasthan, but when Ashwin was promoted to No 5 the asking rate had crossed ten per over. Coolly, the 35-year-old began whittling away the target and finished with three sixes as Rajasthan won with two deliveries remaining in the match. The result put them at second place on the IPL 2022 leaderboard and set up a clash with top-ranked Gujarat Titan in Qualifer 1.
PANT STUMBLES, DELHI ELIMINATED
Despite winning two matches in a row, Delhi needed to win their final fixture versus Mumbai to take fourth place. It came down to the penultimate match of the league phase, played at the Wankhede Stadium where chants of ‘RCB, RCB’ reverberated around the ground and showed which team the Mumbai crowd was supporting. Because for RCB to progress to the playoffs, Delhi had to lose.
Lose they did, in a performance that underlined emphatically how inconsistent they have been this season. David Warner made 5, following on from his diamond duck in the previous match, and after two match-winning half-centuries it was Mitchell Marsh’s turn to perish first ball. Wickets continued to fall and only DC captain Rishabh Pant (39) and Rovman Powell (43) made scores of note as the innings ended at 159/7.
With the entire RCB squad and coaching staff watching the match from their hotel, the second half of this match turned out to be largely one-way traffic. Despite another failure from India’s T20I captain Rohit Sharma, who was made to look pedestrian by left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed in scoring 2 off 13 deliveries, Ishan Kishan cracked 48 off 35 balls and South African teenager sensation Dewald Brevis marked his return to the XI with 37 off 33.
However, the result could have been different if Pant had not dropped a skier off Brevis and then opted to review a not-out call off Tim David when the new batsman had not scored a run. Mumbai’s overseas signing should have been out first ball having feathered an edge to Pant off Shardul Thakur, but the Delhi skipper opted not to use the DRS even with two reviews available. Replays showed David had nicked the ball and he proceeded to make DC rue their inaction, getting off the mark with a 97-metre six and hitting two more into the stands before he was out for 34 off 11 balls.
Mumbai won with five balls to spare, thus ending Delhi’s campaign and putting RCB into the playoffs.