Just two games remain in the 2014 Indian Premier League, and only three teams are left to fight it out to be crowned champions.
Kolkata Knight Riders beat Kings XI Punjab in Qualifier 1 on Wednesday to go through to the final, while Chennai Super Kings saw off Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator to stay in the competition.
Chennai will therefore take on Kings XI in Qualifier 2 on Friday to see who will be joining the Knight Riders in Sunday's final.
As ever, it has been a tournament of huge hitting and high scores, with a massive 670 sixes scored in 58 tournament matches so far, per IPLT20.
Here, we take a look at those players who have performed best with the bat so far in IPL 7.
Top Run Scorers
Let's take a look at the current leading run scorers following Chennai's Eliminator victory over Mumbai:
The Knight Riders' win against Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday was their eighth in a row, a run that has seen them come from anonymity in the tournament to favourites. They equalled a record in the meantime, per cricket statistician Mohandas Menon:
This amazing run of victories is in no small part due to the quite unbelievable consistency of opener Robin Uthappa, who has given them a start in every one of the last 10 games, per Opta:
10 - Robin Uthappa has hit 10 scores of 40+ in a row; previous IPL record: five straight 40+ scores (Michael Hussey & Virender Sehwag). Hot.— OptaJim (@OptaJim) May 28, 2014
The importance of his contribution cannot be underestimated, and he deservedly sits atop the top run scorers list by almost 100 runs. His consistency has been unparalleled in this year's tournament.
Dwayne Smith and Glenn Maxwell were fighting it out for the Purple Cap for much of the tournament, starring in two of the biggest-hitting sides in the tournament.
They now sit second and third, and Uthappa will be difficult to catch, but the Australian's opening three innings in the tournament of 95, 89 and 95—off a total of just 131 balls—will live long in the memory.
95, 89, 95 - Glenn Maxwell is doing everything except get the 100. Can anyone stop this man? http://t.co/tAuge18j8y— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) April 22, 2014
David Warner, Maxwell's compatriot, impressed for Sunrisers, one of the tournament's weaker sides, while Suresh Raina passed the 400-run mark for the seventh consecutive IPL against Mumbai, per cricket journalist Freddie Wilde:
While Raina is not the biggest of hitters, he must be regarded as one of the great T20 cricketers in the world today and an IPL legend.
Highest Averages and Most Sixes
Here are the leading batsmen in terms of averages and maximums hit:
|AB de Villiers||Hyderabad||13||24|
Tournament latecomer David Hussey heads the averages chart courtesy of some tremendous run scoring. His 115 runs have come off 91 balls, and he has finished unbeaten in two of three innings.
The 36-year-old Australian's 40 not out from 29 balls saw Chennai home in the Eliminator, while an unbeaten 50 came in a losing battle against Sunrisers.
Another man difficult to remove, MS Dhoni sits in second spot after showing his colours as one of the game's great finishers in this year's tournament.
The Chennai skipper is the ultimate man to win a game, and with a 22 off 12 balls against Mumbai and 26 from 16 against Rajasthan in consecutive matches, Dhoni took the Super Kings to the top of the table on May 13, which set his side up for their playoff place.
Lendl Simmons, another latecomer to the tournament, was immense for Mumbai as they made it into the top four, the West Indian scoring the first—and currently only—century in this year's tournament.
JP Duminy deserves a great deal of praise for breaching the 400-run mark and putting in consistent performances in a woeful Delhi team who picked up only two wins in their 14 matches.
When it comes to clearing the ropes, none have been better than Smith and Maxwell, who will go head-to-head in Qualifier 2 on Friday.
It should be quite an encounter, with Wilde indicating Chennai and Punjab have been the biggest six-hitters this year while also noting that the team with the fewest sixes are all-conquering Kolkata.
With two games left to go, there is still much to look forward to in IPL 7, as many of the tournament's best batsmen are still involved.
Kolkata are in the final, but who will be joining them there? Can Maxwell smash Kings XI to the last two, or will Smith, Raina, Dhoni and Hussey do the business for Chennai?