The IPL playoff format is similar to that in Aussie Rules Football. The teams that finish in 1st and 2nd play each other, while the teams that finished 3rd and 4th play each other.
The winner of the former match goes directly to the final, while the loser has to play the winner of the latter match. The loser of the latter match is eliminated. Or something.
In Aussie Rules Football, however, the playoffs include eight teams instead of four, last an entire month, and honestly are ridiculously hard to comprehend when reading about them for the first time.
Now, I get why this format exists: you reward teams for finishing higher in the table, give underdogs a chance, and give the fans more meaningful matches to watch. But, to me, it just feels like yet another money grab by the IPL. I mean, why not just give the higher table teams a bye, like the NFL does? But in the interest of TV revenue, they are doing everything they can to make the players play as many matches as humanely possible.
Now, I know, the system has been in place since 2000 in Aussie Rules and while they do last the entire month of September, it is widely considered one of the more exciting tournaments in sport. (I tend to agree). So, I guess, I should cut the IPL some slack like I am always asking others to do.
However, one thing: stop calling every match a “final”. There can be only one final. That’s why it is called a final.
Also, another thing, and this is a big thing: the “qualifying” match between the 1st and 2nd teams feels absolutely meaningless. Yes, yesterday, Chennai stormed back to shock Bangalore, but at the end of the day, who cares? Yes, Chennai play one fewer match, but it’s not like they would have been out of the tournament if they had not completed such a thrilling chase.
(Sidebar: are underarm deliveries illegal in the IPL? Something to look into.)
Today, there is a proper knockout match: Mumbai v Kolkata. Tendulkar v Gambhir. Prime time at the Wankhede Stadium. Should be a good one.
And, tomorrow: day one of the first test between England and Sri Lanka. I am pretty excited for this one.
(Sidebar 2: come one, ECB, you couldn’t wait two weeks to start the tour? Stop being petty and wait for the IPL to finish up next time. You too, WICB.)
Anyway, first ball is at 5am my time in Cardiff; Sophia Gardens to be exact. More on the ground tomorrow.