We are at the business end of the tournament and it is worth reflecting on the journey that has brought us at Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad to this stage.
No team has been at its best all the time — that is virtually impossible in a tournament of this magnitude, and in a 16-match league phase — but the teams that have made it to the play-off stage are those that were not only the most consistent but also those that played the key moments better and handled pressure quite well, and therefore are now within a couple of wins from being crowned champions.
The four teams that are in the play-offs are the ones that deserve the most to be here. I am speaking not just for myself and Mumbai Indians, but for the other three teams as well when I say that reaching the play-offs is not mission accomplished.
It’s just the realisation of the first goal. All four teams will be eager to first make the final and then go all the way, so we are in for four wonderful games at neutral venues for all the sides.
It’s the first time since the play-offs were introduced that we will be playing at a neutral venue when we meet the Super Kings in Delhi on Tuesday. I have fond memories of the Kotla and the team has fond memories of the two clashes against Chennai this season — we beat them at home and away at the MA Chidambaram Stadium — but all that will count for very little when we square off today. The slate will be wiped clean at the toss; it’s the team that executes better on the day that will prevail.
Yes, we can carry some confidence with us in the knowledge that we know what it takes to beat a strong Chennai side with plenty of impact players and that is good for morale, but beyond that, we can’t afford to read too much into what has transpired thus far. The advantage of finishing in the top two is that it gives you two chances to make it to the final, but we are approaching this match against Chennai as if it was a semifinal. I am looking forward to a cracking game at the Kotla.
The writer is a former India spinner