In an incredible twist on the season, the final week of the IPL still has plenty on the line for all involved – and the play-off berths are unsure.
The Rajasthan Royals’ win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday confirmed that the Chennai Super Kings qualified.
Both the Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore have done a great job in coming back from the dead.
Monday 29 April
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad (16:30)
Sunrisers Hyderabad 72/100
Kings XI Punjab 23/20
The Sunrisers blew their shot at just about cementing their place in the play-offs when they misfired in Jaipur, but they are still well placed to make a run for the title.
The men from Hyderabad have lost the services of English opener and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, which appears to have also robbed them of their impetus.
The Kings XI have suffered another falling away from the pace in 2019, but the likes of Chris Gayle and David Miller make them a dangerous side.
Last time out for the Sunrisers, David Warner couldn’t hit a boundary,y but he has still racked up 611 runs to be the leading run-scorer of the 2019 IPL season so far.
The pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium has played well this season – and seems like a great choice to host the final. The deck has something for everyone, making for enthralling contests.
Verdict: Sunrisers to win at home.
Tuesday 30 April
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru (16:30)
Royal Challengers Bangalore 82/100
Rajasthan Royals 21/20
Both these sides have had incredible fightbacks, but this will be the end of the road for one of them.
Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore couldn’t buy a win earlier in the piece but driven by the form of the India skipper and a sublime AB de Villiers, they have reignited hopes of a play-off spot.
The Royals, likewise, struggled initially, but have looked to be finishing strong. The departure of Ben Stokes to join up with the England ODI squad means the Royals are likely to persist with overseas professionals Liam Livingstone and Ashton Turner. Turner endured a horror run of three consecutive first-ball ducks before finally getting off the mark in the win over the Sunrisers.
RCB have lost both Nathan Coulter-Nile and Dale Steyn to injury – and will have to rely on their local pace-bowling talent.
Verdict: RCB to scrape it.
Wednesday 1 May
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai (16:30)
Chennai Super Kings 67/100
Delhi Capitals 5/4
The seasoned title winners face a team desperate to turn the fortunes of Delhi around under a new name.
The Capitals have proved to be a very good bowling side, led by Proteas paceman Kagiso Rabada, but they have some severely suspect batting.
CSK have yet to shake the suggestion that they rely heavily on Mahendra Singh Dhoni to get them out of trouble, but he isn’t the only match-winner around, with Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis all pulling their weight.
Spin will be a factor in Chennai, where Imran Tahir has been unplayable at times, assisted by fellow veteran Harbhajan Singh.
Shikhar Dhawan has grown into the tournament – and his upward curve could have come at just the right time for the Capitals, who need his runs up front to protect their fragile middle order.
Verdict: It is a tough ask to knock CSK over in Chennai – a home win.
Thursday 2 May
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (16:30)
The Mumbai Indians play their final two round-robin phase matches at home, which gives them a leg up on the competition.
The Sunrisers will have to hope to make the final to play in front of their Orange Army in Hyderabad, but they still have every chance of doing so.
The Mumbai Indians have been led by standout displays from national team stars Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, while the former has settled into a handy opening partnership with Quinton de Kock.
Both sides still have their fate in their own hands and can both make the play-offs, but Mumbai have been the more consistent side.
In their previous meeting, the Sunrisers suffered a batting collapse chasing a reachable total, which might give Mumbai the edge.
Verdict: Mumbai Indians to coast home.
Witten by @JonhenryWilson