With only seven league games left in the season, ESPNcricinfo looks at how playoff qualification scenarios will be affected by the result of Wednesday’s game between Mumbai Indians (10 points, 0.405 net run rate) and Kings XI Punjab (12 points, -0.518 NRR).
If Kings XI Punjab win
Mumbai Indians will be knocked out, as four teams will already be on 14 or more points, while Mumbai will be on 10 with a game to go. Thus Kings XI, Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will be in contention for the last two spots.
Kings XI will move up to 14, but still won’t be assured of qualification, due to their poor net run rate. Knight Riders, and one of Rajasthan Royals or Royal Challengers could still take the last two spots ahead of them. Kings XI’s last game, against Chennai Super Kings, is also the last match of the league stage, so they will have the advantage of knowing exactly what will be required for qualification.
Knight Riders will be through if they win their last game, but even if they lose, they can go through if other results go their way. Since their NRR is much better than Royals’, they will have a good chance of qualification if Royals beat Royal Challengers.
Royals will need to win their last game, and hope that Kings XI lose to Super Kings, and Royal Challengers don’t win both matches. Royal Challengers will need to win their last two, and hope that at least one of Kings XI and Knight Riders don’t finish on 16.
If Mumbai Indians win
Mumbai keep their qualification hopes alive. If they beat Daredevils in their last game, they will have a great chance of making the playoffs, but even if they lose, they could still take fourth place on 12 points. For that to happen, Kings XI and Royals will both have to lose their last matches, and Royal Challengers will have to lose to Sunrisers. Then, four teams – Mumbai, Kings XI, Royal Challengers and Royals – will be on 12, with Mumbai likely to be leading on NRR.
For Kings XI to go through, they will have to win their last game, and hope that other results go their way. That includes Mumbai losing to Daredevils, Royals losing to Royal Challengers, who in turn should have lost to Sunrisers. Then Kings XI will have 14, while Mumbai, Royals and Royal Challengers will have 12 each.
Royals will have to win their last game, and then hope that neither Mumbai nor Royal Challengers go on to 14.
Knight Riders will then be assured of finishing ahead of Kings XI, but they could still miss out if they lose to Sunrisers, and if Mumbai and Royal Challengers finish on 14.
Williamson hails Sunrisers’ hard scrap
Two nights after being pipped by a late Faf du Plessis onslaught that cost them a four-day break and a direct entry into the final, Sunrisers Hyderabad did it the hard way at Eden Gardens. They snapped a four-match losing streak by beating Kolkata Knight Riders by 14 runs to enter their second IPL final and have another crack at Chennai Super Kings, who they are yet to beat in three attempts this season.
“It was a great fighting effort from the lads,” Sunrisers captain Kane Williamson told Star Sports. “The game ebbed and flowed. Kolkata are an outstanding side, they deserved to be here and the game could have gone either way, but it’s nice it fell our way in some crunch moments. Credit to the way the boys finished off the first innings to get a very competitive total. The game was slipping away at the start of the chase, but we knew if we held strong and picked wickets through the middle, we could squeeze. We’ve now got another game of cricket left.”
After being asked to bat, Sunrisers were struggling at 134 for 6 in the 18th over. Rashid Khan, however, smashed an unbeaten 34 off 10 balls to lift the total to 174 for 7. He then claimed 3 for 19 with the ball, including the key wickets of Chris Lynn and Andre Russell. In addition, he effected the run-out of Nitish Rana, who was promoted to No.3 to counter the legspinner’s left-handedness. Rashid capped the night with two catches in the last over.
“He (Rashid) was brilliant but he’s got another game, so we’re going to keep him wrapped up,” Williamson said. “The final is our focus now. As a team, we fight until the very last ball and we showed that today. It’s a real team effort. Rashid was certainly the Man of the Match and he was brilliant, but a lot of guys chipped in. It’s a great fighting effort, which is the attitude we want to see from Sunrisers.”
Sunrisers had made three changes coming into this knockout bout. They left out Manish Pandey, their costliest signing at USD 1.6 million (approx) INR 11 crores, after he had managed only 284 runs in 13 innings. at a strike rate of 115.44. Instead, they backed Deepak Hooda in the middle order and recalled a fit-again Wriddhiman Saha in place of Shreevats Goswami. Williamson underlined the importance of balance without losing experience as a key reason for the move.
“The thing we didn’t change was our balance [despite the changes], he said. “We did make some adjustments because we had injuries obviously. Saha was injured, but he came back and it was nice to have his experience. [Shreevats] Goswami contributed well, got some exposure, but for us to have that experience in the final was a big thing. Every one of those guys in the squad have played a huge part, whether it’s on the field or carrying drinks. It’s been a huge collective effort, but we still have another game of cricket left.”
Shakib Al Hasan, now into his third IPL final and his first with Sunrisers in his debut season, gave a peek into the spirit in the team. Williamson also touched upon it as he spoke of Carlos Brathwaite. The West Indies allrounder had conceded 20 runs off the 18th over against CSK, but Williamson still backed him to defend 18 runs off the final over at the same venue, where he had hit Ben Stokes for four sixes to deliver West Indies’ second World T20 title two years ago.
Brathwaite took the wickets of the well-set Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi to close out the game. “Carlos will be happy because he might have thought he was responsible for the loss against CSK, even though he really wasn’t, and might have taken it personally,” Shakib said. “The way he came back today was terrific.”
SLC to support investigation into pitch-fixing allegations
Sri Lanka Cricket will cooperate fully with the ICC in its investigations into allegations of pitch-fixing in two Test matches in the past, and potentially one later this year against England.
The board’s response came after TV news channel Al Jazeera claimed that a person involved in preparing the pitches in Galle for the Tests against India in 2017 and Australia in 2016 had tailored the surfaces according to instructions from a person involved in betting. The report also alleged that the Galle pitch for the Test against England later this year would also be made to order for betting.
“Mr Ashley de Silva, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket is in contact with the CEO of the International Cricket Council Mr. David Richardson and the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit on the matter,” SLC said. “Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to state that it has zero tolerance towards corruption and will take immediate action against any person involved in the alleged incident, if found guilty.
“In the meantime, Sri Lanka Cricket is constantly engaged with the ICC and is following its guidelines on how to handle anti-corruption operations for the forthcoming tours in Sri Lanka.”
The ICC confirmed it was investigating the report. “The ICC is aware of an investigation into corruption in cricket by a news organisation and as you would expect we will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously,” Alex Marshall, ICC general manager Anti-Corruption Unit, said in a statement. “We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from Member countries based on the limited information we have received. We have made repeated requests that all evidence and supporting materials relating to corruption in cricket is released immediately to enable us to undertake a full and comprehensive investigation.”
According to another head curator in Sri Lanka, however, the individual mentioned in the Al Jazeera report is not a curator, but someone in charge of the temporary staff working at the Galle stadium and was not in charge of either of the two Test pitches specified in the report.
The Al Jazeera report claimed that the individual – under instructions from the bettors – had made a batting-friendly surface for the India Test and a spin-friendly one for the Australia Test, but ESPNcricinfo can confirm the Sri Lanka team had in fact requested the actual curator for such surfaces. Additionally, Galle surfaces have often tended to be very spin-friendly, and are routinely result-oriented pitches, the last draw there having come in 2013.
Hasan Raza caught on camera in alleged spot-fixing sting
Former Pakistan batsman Hasan Raza has been filmed on camera by news channel Al Jazeera in the same room as another former cricketer – Robin Morris from Mumbai – talks about facilitating spot-fixing in T20 tournaments.
Raza does not participate in the conversation between Morris and the undercover reporter, but is seated in the chair adjacent to Morris. Raza and Morris both played for Mumbai Champs, a team in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League between 2007-08.
Al Jazeera said Hasan Raza did not respond to its allegations, while Morris “denies any wrongdoing” and said the channel invited him “to audition for, and act in, a commercial movie ‘for public entertainment’.”
In the video, part of a broader investigative documentary the channel will air from Sunday, Morris talks about setting up a T20 tournament for the purposes of spot-fixing and betting. He says that no A-grade players will be involved, but that he can bring in B, C, and D grade players. He talks of taking such tournaments from Dubai, to Hong Kong, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.
In another location, poolside at a hotel, a person identified by Al Jazeera as Gaurav Rajkumar is seen and heard talking about organising a four-team T20 tournament in the UAE. Morris is also present during this conversation and later details how much money a corrupt player stands to make by facilitating spot-fixing in such tournaments.
Al Jazeera said Rajkumar also claimed the channel invited him to act in a movie for public entertainment.
The videos were released on the same day that Al Jazeera also alleged that a person involved in the preparation of pitches in Galle, Sri Lanka, for the Tests against India in 2017 and Australia in 2016 had tailored the surfaces according to instructions from a person involved in betting. The report also alleged that the Galle pitch for the Test against England later this year would also be made to order for betting.
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