IPL 2020: Super Cricketing Matches Over the Weekend!

Whenever we get to watch cricket of the highest order involving star national and international players we tend to forget about the format of the game and in which ‘type’ it is being played, international Tests or ODIs or T20Is or commercial league T20 matches, and we consider and cherish such games as treats. This exactly has been the case in all of the four matches of the Indian Premier League-2020 (IPL 2020) played over the weekend, that is on Saturday and Sunday, 17-18 October 2020 in UAE, each of the four matches being a humdinger down the wire, and several national and international cricketers displaying tremendous competitive spirit and superlative cricket.


Photo: espncricinfo.com

The first game on Saturday was played between RCB and RR in Dubai. RR set a competitive target of 178, and RCB started the chase on a pitch slowing down and found shot-making increasingly difficult. They needed 76 runs off the last 41 balls when Virat Kohli departed for 43 runs off 32 balls, and in came AB de Villiers. Despite his attacking shots from the word go, it came down to needing 35 runs in the last two overs for a win. The incredible prowess of de Villiers unfolded, and he won the match for RCB making 55 runs in just 22 balls, comprising of 6 sixes and with two balls to spare. He thus snatched a victory by 7 wickets from the jaws of an impending defeat, and RCB needed this victory badly, after its listless performance in the game against KXIP on 15th October when de Villiers was demoted to number six in the batting order with only three overs to play with, this unusual move by Kohli contributed largely to the KXIP, a team on the verge of being ousted from the tournament, getting a new lease of life. More significantly, de Villiers delivered another superlative knock of 73 runs off 33 balls that helped his team win the match against KKR on 12th October.


The second match on Saturday was played between DC and CSK in Sharjah and it also went down to the last over and last-minute fireworks. Again, chasing a competitive CSK target of 180 DC proceeded mostly thanks to a brilliant century by Shikhar Dhawan as wickets on the other end fell in regular intervals slowing down the scoring-rate. 17 runs were required in the last over, and the new batsman Axar Patel had the strike, not the set batsman Dhawan. And what followed was just breathtaking. Axar, as if on a mission, kept on hitting sixes from the first ball, scoring a scintillating 21 in 5 balls and DC winning the duel by 5 wickets.


The two matches yesterday, that is Sunday, the 18th October, were not only close encounters, but both were also tied ones, keeping the viewers riveted with unending twists and turns. The first match was played in Abu Dhabi between KKR and SRH, both teams desperate for the next couple of points. KKR, Russel still not delivering, reached a somewhat respectable total of 163/6 thanks largely to the unbeaten Morgan-Karthik partnership. Chasing a modest target, SRH, despite a rollicking opening partnership between injured Williamson and Bairstow, faltered eventually losing wickets regularly. Finally, skipper Warner still in command, SRH could not get the 30 runs from the last two overs and the match was tied. SRH had also no clue to the incredible bowling by pacer Lockie Ferguson who was playing his first game of the tournament. In came Warner again for the super over, but fell to Ferguson first ball, and KKR had triumphed finally with new skipper Morgan partnering with keeper Dinesh Karthik overhauling the small target easily.


Photo: espncricinfo.com

The last match yesterday was played in Dubai between MI and KXIP. Chasing a competitive MI target of 177 runs KXIP, riding on another super knock of 77 by KL Rahul, failed to score the victorious 2 runs off the last ball of the last over in spite Jordan’s last-minute heroics, getting brilliantly run out coming for the second run, and the match was tied. Bowling the super over MI’s main strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah bowled yorker after yorker kept the winning score for the MI at just 6 runs. However, the twists could not be foreseen even by MI’s season openers Rohit Sharma and de Kock as KXIP’s strike bowler Mohammad Shami surpassed the brilliance of Bumrah by bowling a beauty of an over, and Rohit, again for the defining 2-run for victory was run out with classic precision by a diving Rahul, and the super over was also tied. Things were different in the second super over, because batsmen and bowlers in action for the first super over could not feature in the second. So, Pollard and Hardik Pandya came in to bat the second super over for MI while Jordan bowled it for KXIP. They could manage only 11 runs and the final target was 12 for KXIP. MI's pacer Trent Boult proved to be a poor man's Bumrah. And, Gayle coming in as an opener for the first time in IPL 2020, started the proceedings with first-ball six, and then Mayank Agarwal who earlier saved a sure Pollard six followed it up with the fours. So then, finally KXIP got the much-fought two points and still remained in contention with 6 points. A match, forget the IPL format or type, of historical proportions finally ended. Results:


Now, DC with 14 points is set to enter the playoffs, followed by MI and RCB with 12 each, KKR with 10 and the remaining four teams locked with 6 points each, leaving the doors still tantalizingly open for IPL 2020. All the franchises have played 9 matches each so far and 5 matches each are remaining. This new-normal IPL 2020 in UAE, has somewhat reversed the pattern of winning-toss-fielding-first-and-mostly-winning in Indian settings, and has also seen batsmen struggling for runs on rather slowish pitches instead of the undaunted rain of fours-sixes in Indian settings. These factors have made the tournament hard-fought, closer and absorbing as we have seen in the last four matches over the weekend.


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