5 best comebacks by IPL teams to reach the playoffs
3. Chennai Super Kings – 2010 & 2012
The most consistent team in the IPL by far, the Chennai Super Kings also had to show resillience and get a bit of fortune in order to make it to the back end of the tournament a couple of times. In the 2010 edition, they were in trouble after winning just 2 out of their first 7 encounters. However, the team, that has made at least the playoffs every single edition so far, showed their character by winning 5 out of their remaining 7 to scrape through.
Powered by some of the best finishers in the game, CSK once again held their nerves till the end as they edged Punjab in Dharamshala in a humdinger. Batting first, Punjab did well to reach 192 in their 20 overs, but skipper MS Dhoni blasted 30 off the final 2 overs to take his team over the finish line, remaining not out with 54 off 29 balls. That turned out to be Chennai’s lucky charm as they finally won the IPL trophy after having gone close the last 2 times.
They did that again two years later. With 9 teams and 8 matches in the league stages, CSK were unlikely to progress to the playoffs having won just 5 out of their first 12 games. But they won 3 out of their remaining 4 and then rode their luck to qualify with a greater Net Run Rate. Along the way, they won some nail-biting contests but as always found finishers when it mattered most. The greatest case in point was their penultimate game against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, which they won off the last ball.
Even after finishing their matches, they had to wait for the outcome of the KXIP, DD and RR matches to confirm qualification. Even though fortune favoured them to reach the playoffs that season, in the finals they came up against a rampaging KKR side who stopped them from winning the title the 3rd successive time.
4. Kolkata Knight Riders - 2014
After 7 games in the 2014 edition, the Kolkata Knight Riders had registered just 2 wins. Anyone who had watched them lose 6 wickets for just 2 runs against RR, to falter in a chase where they were 121-0 in 14 overs, and lose to the same side again a couple of games later in a super over, would’ve been foolish to give them any chance of even progressing to the next round.
However, right after promoting Robin Uthappa up the batting order, and balancing out the side after leaving out a struggling Jacques Kallis, KKR registered one of the most remarkable resurgence stories ever to be told in the IPL. They won each of their remaining 9 matches to win the competition for the 2nd time in 3 years.
The script was nothing short of a fairy tale, as against SRH at the Eden Gardens in their final group game, they needed to chase down 161 in 15.2 overs to finish in the top two. Not willing to risk an eliminator, the side went all out and Yusuf Pathan blazed 72 off just 22 balls, including the fastest 50 off 15 balls, to accomplish a miracle.
Ever since the appointment of Gautam Gambhir as captain, KKR has managed to get together one of the most balanced and consistent sides, with arguably the most potent bowling line up in the competition.
5. Mumbai Indians - 2014
We have seen some brilliant comebacks by teams in the history of the IPL, courtesy of which they have reached the playoffs when they were on the edge of the precipice. But Mumbai Indians' story in the 2014 campaign has got to be the mother of them all. Having lost all their 5 games in Abu Dhabi, they returned to India to win 7 out of their remaining 9 games.
Against Rajasthan in their final group game, they had to chase down 190 within 14.3 overs to qualify for the playoffs on the basis of a superior net run rate. The previous night had already seen a miracle with the way KKR chased down 161 in 15 overs. However, even the most hopeful Mumbai fans weren’t ready for what followed.
With the side on 109/3 after 9.3 overs, Corey Anderson 95 (44) and Ambati Rayudu 30 (10) put together a remarkable 80-run partnership from 5 overs. However, it still didn’t seem enough as they got stuck at 189/4 at the end of 14.3 overs, and RR were already celebrating. Even as new man Aditya Tare walked into bat, calculators were working over time as complicated mathematics ultimately left MI needing a 4 or a 6 out of the remaining 3 balls to qualify. A wide from RR would push their NRR above MI, enabling them to qualify.
James Faulkner was the bowler and Tare was the batsman, and their heads must have been spinning with all the drama and confusion. Ultimately, Faulkner produced a full toss outside leg-stump and Tare deposited his first ball out of the ground to secure the most incredible of qualifications for the playoffs for MI.