IPL-2021: Low-Scoring Matches In The UAE Low In Terms Of Cricket Too, Double-Headers To Decide The Fourth Play-Off Spot!

The low-scoring matches during the second leg of the Indian Premiere League-2021 (IPL-2021) held in the United Arab Emirates are mostly lacking in terms of cricketing charms—meaning exciting and memorable knocks by celebrated international players—barring the lone century of the tournament scored by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) opener Rituraj Gaikwad that turned out to be for a losing cause and an exciting hat-trick by Harshal Patel of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). We are missing the usual great cricket by players like AB de-Villiers who is playing lower down the order for unknown reasons, David Warner, Chris Gayle who came and went out of fatigue without causing any harm to any opponent, Steve Smith, Andre Russell as usual, Kieron Pollard, Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and others. There are of course good knocks by Kohli, Sharma, KL Rahul, Glen Maxwell, Faf du Plessis, Shikhar Dhawan, Paddikal, Sanju Samson, Ravindra Jadeja and few others, but failing always to stick on for memorable innings. However, the second league has produced quite a few last-over or last-ball thrillers in a few of the low-scoring and rare high-scoring ones. Obviously, most of the bowlers, both pacers and spinners, are doing better than the batsmen, but not in the category of ‘class cricket’.


The second league of the tournament is also marked by unpredictable performances of the franchises. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), after a listless first leg in India, displayed menacing performances in UAE winning several matches and becoming a serious contender for the play-offs, but then losing one or two due to tactical errors. While Sun Risers Hyderabad (SRH) has been consistently lowly the Rajasthan Royals (RR) had been very unpredictable beating the dominant CSK by chasing a very tall target of 190 runs and getting royally thrashed for 90 all-out by a desperate Mumbai Indians (MI). Delhi Capitals (DC) has been the most consistent team with ten wins so far while CSK and RCB had been more or less consistent with losses less and wins and Punjab Kings (PBKS) also showed ups and downs depending heavily on KL Rahul.


At the moment DC is sitting pretty on top with 20 points already qualifying for the play-offs; CSK is second with 18 points, already in the play-offs  having the highest net run-rate; and the third position is occupied by RCB with 16 points, qualifying for the play-offs quite some time back, because considering the  remaining matches for the other teams no team can accumulate 16 points, and their narrow and unexpected loss to SRH only hampered their chances of capturing one of the two top spots, but each of these three teams has still one more match to go like all others. The fourth spot for the play-offs has been the most suspenseful feature of the tournament, with four contenders of KKR, MI, Punjab Kings (PBKS) and RR—the latter seemingly ruled out though for having an almost irreparable net run-rate.


Two double-headers today and tomorrow, October 7 & 8 are set to decide the team for the fourth spot while the scenario of a 12-point-each stalemate between four teams cannot be entirely ruled out if RR happens to improve their net run-rate dramatically. In the first match today PBKS (with 10 points) is facing CSK and has to win the contest and also to improve their net run-rate to remain in contention still, provided KKR and MI lose their respective matches, and CSK would like to win it very much to occupy the top spot if DC lose their last match. The second match today is going to be the most the most exciting one with KKR playing a virtual semi-final against RR—a win for them would increase their chances of an almost sure spot in the play-offs expecting MI to lose and otherwise also they seemingly have a better chance to qualify as they have a better net run-rate than MI—and if both KKR and MI win their matches they would be locked with 14 points each and the net run-rate would decide the fourth spot.


In the double-header tomorrow, in the first match MI is likely to prevail over the lowly SRH easily thus increasing their points to 14 and probably improving their net run-rate which is still in the negative; the second match tomorrow between RCB and DC will be a tough one with both trying to register a win—DC to ensure their top spot and RCB to capture the second spot which is actually ruled out due to a huge difference of net run-rate with CSK. In the way the IPL play-offs are played the top two teams always enjoy an advantage of having two chances to fight for a place in the Final.


The Qualifier-1 and the Eliminator will be played on 10th and 11th October respectively and the Qualifier-2 on 13th October. The IPL-2021 Final is to be played on 15th October. All these matches will be held in Dubai and Sharjah. As we know, the ICC Cricket T20 World Cup-2021 is to be held in UAE and Oman from 17th October with the warm-up matches already starting. Therefore, the UAE venues are set to continue as the hotbed of T20 cricket for quite some time more, and are sure to regale cricket lovers. We hope the pitches of UAE would generate exciting matches with ‘class cricket’ coming back which can be expected as this time it would be all national teams fighting for their respective national pride.


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