IPL 7 Finals Week: Team of the Play-Offs
The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League has ended with Kolkata Knight Riders beating Kings XI Punjab by three wickets in the final at Bangalore on Sunday.
The Kolkata Knight Riders won their second IPL title in three years, backed by some solid performances all season.
In the final week of this season, we witnessed four quality matches in the play-offs stage. There were some spectacular individual performances, including two out of the season's three centuries.
Here is our pick of the IPL play-offs team of the week:
1. Virender Sehwag (Kings XI Punjab)
Paunchy and bespectacled, 35-year-old Virender Sehwag wasn't expected to do any better than provide good starts to the Kings XI Punjab coming into the play-offs.
He had scored a half-century and a few 20s and 30s but had failed to move on.
However, the Nawab of Najafgarh took everyone by surprise as he rolled back the years and blitzed his way to a 58-ball 122 against the Chennai Super Kings in the second qualifier.
The knock was enough to see Punjab through to the final, repaying the faith the Punjab management had put in him. Unfortunately for him, he was to get out early in the final against Kolkata Knight Riders.
2. Robin Uthappa (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Robin Uthappa played a huge role in paving Kolkata Knight Riders' path to the final. After a quiet start, he had lit up the second half of the tournament with a minimum of 40 runs in all games leading up to the playoffs.
Against Punjab in the first qualifier, he again top-scored with 42 that took KKR to a competitive 163 for eight, which turned out to be enough to take them through the final.
This meant that going into Sunday's game, his last 10 scores read: 47, 65, 47, 46, 80, 40, 67, 83 not out, 41 and 42.
Uthappa's spectacular form in the second half of the season has ensured that KKR won their last eight matches on the trot before the final. He was unfortunately dismissed for just five in the final but still ended up on the winning side as the rest of his teammates stepped up and rewarded him for his consistency.
Uthappa ended up taking the Orange Cap with 660 runs in 16 matches.
3. Manan Vohra (Kings XI Punjab)
Kings XI Punjab's 20-year-old batsman Manan Vohra was drafted into the playing XI only in the second half of the tournament, which is why he finds himself lower down on the Orange Cap list.
Sent to open the batting with Sehwag, Vohra provided able company and scored 324 runs in just eight matches at an average of 40.5 and strike rate of 139.
In the play-offs week, he scored 26 and 34 against Kolkata and Chennai respectively before stepping up in the final by hitting 67 runs in 52 balls, which helped KXIP reach 199.
Vohra would come through as one of the tournament's emerging players and looks to have a bright future ahead.
4. Suresh Raina (Chennai Super Kings)
There was no way that Chennai Super Kings' Mr Reliable, Suresh Raina, was not going to make this list. A batsman who has the talent to win matches single-handedly, he did just that against Mumbai Indians in the eliminator, scoring an unbeaten 54 to help CSK chase 174.
Then, in the second qualifier, CSK were chasing an improbable 227 for victory. They lost their openers early, and it seemed like curtains before Raina played a whirlwind knock in the Powerplay overs to keep Chennai in the hunt.
Raina's once-in-a-lifetime innings of 87 off 25 balls was brought to an end on the first ball after the Powerplay via some brilliant fielding by George Bailey. But this was not before he had led CSK to the highest recorded score by a team in the Powerplay—100.
Unfortunately, Raina's knock was to go in vain as CSK ended up losing the match and were knocked out.
5. Wriddhiman Saha (Kings XI Punjab)
Forever overshadowed by MS Dhoni in the Indian national team, Wriddhiman Saha almost made the IPL final his day as he smashed 115 off just 55 balls to take Punjab to 199.
However, it wasn't to be enough as KKR got past the line with three balls to spare.
Nevertheless, Saha's innings would not go unnoticed, and he would hope he gets his due in the national side soon enough, having been selected on the Indian travelling party to England later this month.
6. Manish Pandey (Kolkata Knight Riders)
The only reason KKR were able to chase 200 in the final was Manish Pandey's heroics. The 24-year-old, who plays for Karnataka, lit up his home ground with a match-winning 94 off just 50 balls.
Pandey ensured that KKR's ship steadied after losing their openers within the first seven overs and then carved partnerships with Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan to take KKR past the line.
7. MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings)
It would be a sin leaving MS Dhoni out of any team related to anything at all if he is in contention. Dhoni scored an unbeaten 42 in Chennai's unsuccessful chase of 226 against Punjab in the second qualifier, which was one of the handful times he had been involved in a chase that didn't result in a victory.
Dhoni also led CSK to the Fairplay award for the tournament, which gets him extra points to make this team as captain.
8. Piyush Chawla (Kolkata Knight Riders)
The leggie is the reason Kolkata Knight Riders won the title and it's not his bowling that won it but his batting.
Chawla walked in to bat at No. 8 on Sunday with KKR needing 21 off the last three overs. Along with Suryakumar Yadav, he played out Akshar Patel in the 18th over to make the equation 15 off 12.
Yadav was out in the penultimate over, bowled by Mitchell Johnson. At 11 required off seven balls, it was getting tight with Sunil Narine the new batsman.
However, Chawla put all doubts to rest as he walked across the crease and launched Johnson into the stands beyond square leg for six.
Chawla then took the cherry as he hit the winning runs with a boundary in the final over to cap a remarkable win.
9. Umesh Yadav (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Umesh Yadav bowled a brilliant spell of three for 13 in the Kolkata win over Punjab that got them through to the final.
He could not replicate his performance in the final, where he went for 39 runs and got just the one wicket, but he was vital to KKR getting there.
10. Mohit Sharma (Chennai Super Kings)
We weren't going to leave the Purple Cap holder out of this list, were we?
Mohit Sharma started the play-offs well by scalping three wickets in Chennai's win over the Mumbai Indians in the eliminator.
However, he managed only one wicket in the second qualifier against Punjab, where Chennai conceded 226 runs.
However, Sharma finished the tournament as the leading wicket taker, with 23 victims.
11. Akshar Patel (Kings XI Punjab)
This wiry 20-year-old slow left-arm orthodox spinner bowled the spell of a lifetime in the final. Conceding just 21 runs in a Twenty20 match is no easy task, especially as a spin bowler with batsmen intent on clobbering you around the park.
However, Patel kept Punjab in the match right until the end and deserved credit for his remarkable effort in a high-pressure game.
Earlier, in the first qualifier, also against Kolkata, he recorded two for 11 in his four overs. Against Chennai later in the second qualifier, he took one for 23 to take Punjab through to the final.
Patel has been one of the finds of the season and a vital cog in Punjab's wheel.
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