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IPL: The final four

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 23-05-2016


© Provided by BSkyB

After a dramatic final day of the league phase, the IPL is reaching its climax with just four teams remaining as the tournament heads into the home straight.

Gujarat Lions take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday with the victors advancing straight to Sunday's final.

Defeat will not spell the end for the losing side, though, as they will be given another shot to reach the final when they play the winners of the clash between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders.

A pulsating play-off campaign awaits but how have the lucky quartet got this far and who have been their stars? We take a look…


League position: First

Top run maker: Suresh Raina (397)

Top wicket taker: Dwayne Bravo (15)

Unheralded star: Dhawal Kulkarni

League-stage story: The newly-formed team got off to a flyer by winning six of their first seven games, including a couple of last-ball classics against Rising Pune Supergiants and Delhi Daredevils, to put themselves in a strong position to qualify with Aaron Finch looking unstoppable. An injury to Finch and a run of three straight defeats allowed the chasing pack to catch up, but they finished strongly to finish top of the pile.

While Finch struggled to rediscover his best form, Suresh Raina stepped up and with Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith also in their ranks, they do not lack hitting power. With the ball, Dwayne Bravo remains the standout but was ably assisted by Dhawal Kulkarni, who took 14 wickets, and Praveen Kumar.


League position: Second

Top run maker: Virat Kohli (919)

Top wicket taker: Yuzvendra Chalal (19)

Unheralded star: Lokesh Rahul

League-stage story: With a batting line-up that boasts Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson it is perhaps little surprise that RCB have made it through to the play-offs. However, just two wins in their first seven games showed there is more to T20 than just batting with the deficiencies in their bowling attack clear to see. Chris Jordan was drafted in help out and while the Englishman did well, it is hard to look past the RCB batsmen, in particular Kohli and De Villiers when explaining their sharp upturn in fortunes.

Kohli is on course to become the first player to reach 1,000 runs in an IPL campaign, having hit four tons and six half-centuries, the Indian making De Villiers' one century and five half-centuries look like a meagre haul! Even after five wins in six, RCB still needed to beat Delhi in the final game of the league phase to reach this stage but, again, Kohli stepped up to see them home by six wickets. They are very much the team in form.


League position: Third

Top run maker: David Warner (658)

Top wicket taker: Bhuvneshwar Kumar (18)

Unheralded star: Barinder Sran

League-stage story: Captain David Warner has been in sparkling form for the Sunrisers, who, after two early defeats, won seven of their next eight matches to all-but seal their place in the top four. They slipped to defeat in three of their final four fixtures, though, and the worry for them may be that they have lost form at just the wrong moment.

They can take comfort in the fact that Warner, at least, shows no signs of slowing up with two half-centuries in that run, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Barinder Sran have performed consistently throughout. Mustafizur Rahman, meanwhile, has arguably been the bowler of the tournament but has shown signs of fatigue in the past couple of games.


League position: Fourth

Top run maker: Gautam Gambhir (473)

Top wicket taker: Andre Russell (15)

Unheralded star: Sunil Narine

League-stage story: The two-time IPL champions sneaked into the top four with victory over the Sunrisers on the final day of the league phase. However, after four wins from their first five games, the Knight Riders would have hoped to have secured qualification far sooner, only to win just two of their next five. They remained in a strong position, though, going into their final four games, but defeats to RCB and Gujarat Lions kept them waiting until the last.

Captain Gautam Gambhir has been the main man with the bat, with his opening partner Robin Uthappa also making a number of useful contributions and the experienced Yusuf Pathan finding form at just the right time. Andre Russell has starred with the ball taking 15 wickets, while Sunil Narine has been as economic as ever since his return, claiming 11 wickets.

See whether Gujarat or Bangalore clinch an immediate place in the IPL final, from 3pm, Tuesday, Sky Sports 1, before finding out who gets dumped out when Sunrisers Hyderabad tackle Kolkata Knight Riders, from 3pm, Wednesday on the same channel.

Slideshow: Meet the captains of IPL 2016

IPL 2016: MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli, a brief look at the captains: MS Dhoni had led Chennai Super Kings for eight years before being forced to move due to CSK's suspension. He called this move difficult. "If all of a sudden if you want me to say that I am very excited to play for a new team, it will be wrong," said Dhoni who had won the title twice and finished runner-up four times. This time, though, in new colours of Pune Super Giants and a new look team, things would be very different for India's limited overs captain. Will Dhoni's inspirational touch carry on, it remains to be seen. IPL 2016: MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli, a brief look at the captains

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