The IPL 2020 extravaganza is only a couple of fixtures away from its culmination. Over the past seven weeks, the tournament has been an absolute treat to watch. From record-breaking bowling spells to match-winning batting knocks, the thirteenth edition has produced many memorable moments so far.
Over the past seven days, fans witnessed the exit of multiple IPL franchises as the race to achieve a top-four finish ended in a thrilling manner. While Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) missed the playoffs spot by a whisker, SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) peaked at the right time to emerge as title contenders.
Let's take a look at the key moments:
KXIP's disappointing exit
Despite delivering a decent performance throughout the tournament, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) missed qualifying for playoffs by a thin margin. In their last league-stage fixture against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), KXIP failed to defend a 153-run total, leading to their exit from the tournament.
With CSK playing party-poopers, KXIP suffered a batting debacle while batting first at Abu Dhabi. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals but Deepak Hooda's resurgent 30-ball 62 steered KXIP past the 150-run mark. The total, however, wasn't enough for a victory as CSK hunted it down with seven deliveries to spare. Ruturaj Gaikwad's scripted a hat-trick of half-centuries to end his tournament on a positive note.
The Punjab side, led by skipper Rahul's brilliance, fizzled out in the end and missed out on the opportunity to squeeze into the top-four. With six wins in 14 games, KXIP finished sixth in the league, two points behind SRH and RCB, who finished third and fourth respectively.
"If you look back at it, we had a lot of games in our pocket but we couldn't get over the line. We only have ourselves to blame. At the start of the tournament, that short-run [call] has come back to bite us very hard. We all make mistakes and we have made a few this season. We need to accept it, learn from it and come back stronger," said Rahul after the end of their IPL 2020 journey.
Finding rhythm at the right time, David Warner-led SRH cruised into the top-four by thumping defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in their last league-stage game. Defying all odds, SRH registered an emphatic 10-wicket victory over MI to finish third in the points table with 14 points.
After electing to bowl first against a tweaked MI line-up, Sandeep Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem rose to the occasion with the ball. While Sandeep scalped three, Nadeem registered two wickets under his belt. Jason Holder also stepped up and pluck two wickets to restrict MI to a partly total of 149.
In response, the SRH opening duo of David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha annihilated the MI bowling unit. The duo stitched an unbeaten opening stand to register a 10-wicket triumph. No MI bowler was able to leave a mark in the game as the Orange Army booked playoffs berth in style.
Warner scored a 58-ball 85 while Saha gathered 58 off 45 deliveries. SRH's impressive run didn't end there as they also knocked out RCB in the Eliminator. Outclassing the Virat Kohli-led side in all departments, SRH booked a place in the Qualifier 2 by winning the game by six wickets.
DC's batting collapse
Delhi Capitals have been struggling to achieve consistency in their top-order. To add to their woes, DC slumped to 0/3 in the crucial Qualifier 1 tie against defending champions Mumbai Indians. Succumbing to the Jasprit Bumrah-Trent Boult duo, DC lost first for wickets on 20 runs.
In an encounter which turned out to be a lop-sided one, DC's opening batsmen -- Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan -- all three departed on ducks, scripting an embarrassing record to their name. After suffering early blows, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel tried to revive their run-chase. However, hunting down a 200-run total proved to be an impossible task for Shreyas Iyer's men.
In the end, they managed to post just 143 runs on the board and missed out on a glaring opportunity to book a place in the final. Capitals, in their last six games, have been able to register only one victory, which came against RCB in their last league-stage match.
RCB missing out on IPL trophy yet again
The 13-year-long hope of RCB fans shattered on Friday after Virat Kohli and Co failed to shine in the Eliminator against SRH. Since the inception of the IPL, RCB have missed out on opportunities to lift the coveted trophy.
In the crucial tie against David Warner's men, RCB delivered a below-par performance in all three departments. After managing to post a modest 131-run total on the scoreboard, RCB failed to mount any pressure on the Hyderabad batting force. Led by Kane Williamson's gritty half-century and Jason Holder's vital cameo, SRH booked a place in the final as they hunted down the total with two deliveries to spare.
The RCB bowling force never looked on top of the game and their gloomy run in IPL playoffs continued. Skipper Kohli had to face the heat of fans and experts after failing to clinch maiden IPL title.
"It was amazing to have had this opportunity to come out and play. There's a bigger picture going around here and we are all contributing to that. To all our fans who have supported us like every year, we just want to thank them," said Kohli after their disappointing defeat against SRH.
Pat Cummins' lethal show
KKR failed to achieve a top-four finish but they finished their IPL 2020 journey on a positive note. After batting first against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Abu Dhabi, KKR, led by skipper Eoin Morgan's 68* off 35, posted a daunting 191 on the board.
In the second innings, it was Pat Cummins who stepped up and dismantled RR's batting force. Cummins' early blows derailed Royals as they left five wickets in the powerplay itself. Justifying his hefty price tag, the Australia speedster finished with figures of 4/34. He was assisted by Shivam Mavi and Varun Chakravarthy, who also plucked two wickets each.
Overall, it was a majestic performance by Morgan's men as they grabbed two vital points. They, however, failed to book playoffs berth after MI failed to defeat SRH in the last league game of the tournament. Riders ended their campaign on fifth place with 14 points under their belt.