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The league stage of TATA IPL 2023 concluded with a bang as Mumbai Indians became the fourth team to qualify for the playoffs at the end of the last league match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Titans.
The level of competition in the Toughest T20 can be gauged by the fact that the fourth and final team to book the playoffs berth was decided after the result of the last league game of the tournament after GT prevailed over RCB.
GT and Chennai Super Kings finished as the top two teams and gave themselves one more shot at lifting the coveted trophy. They will be taking on each other in the Qualifier 1 on May 23 at MA Chidambaram. While MI and Lucknow Super Giants will be locking horns with each other in the Eliminator at the same venue, a day later.
The losing team in Qualifier 1 will then take on the winner of Eliminator in Qualifier 2 on May 26 at the Narendra Modi Stadium to set up a title clash with the Winner of Qualifier 1 on May 28 in Ahmedabad.
In the first match of the doubleheader on Sunday, MI showcased the batting skills of the highest order to defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad in a big run chase at home. Cameron Green - who notched up his maiden IPL century with the winning shot for MI - lived up to the billings in his debut season and sent a warning to LSG ahead of the knockout game.
Hailing Green's sensational batting performance against SRH, former India cricketer Irfan Pathan suggested the young Australia all-rounder should bat at number three in the coming games.
Speaking on Star Sports' Cricket Live, Irfan Pathan said, "MI invested big money in Cameron Green (at the TATA IPL Auction) and the big-hitter didn't disappoint. He's a potential match-winner for MI. He should be batting at number three for MI in the coming games because pitches in Chennai and Ahmedabad will not be easy to bat like Wankhede. Green can come in at number three and SKY can be the number four batter on slow pitches."
The evening game on Super Sunday saw centuries being hit from either side as the present of India Cricket Virat Kohli and the future Shubman Gill slammed stupendous centuries. The duo smashed two consecutive tons in as many games to establish their supremacy but the youngster's knock trumped the veteran's. It was a memorable day in TATA IPL history as an unprecedented three centuries were slammed across two games in one day of IPL.
Hailing Virat Kohli for his batting masterclass at M Chinnaswamy, former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar termed King Kohli's innings against GT as the better of his two centuries in this season.
Speaking on Star Sports Studio, Sanjay Manjrekar said, "This century from Kohli is more special than the previous one because the bowling attack of Gujarat Titans was far superior to Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kohli also batted almost single-handedly in a pressure match and took his team to a respectable total."
Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh commended Kohli for his knock which hardly had any risky shots and this quality makes him a dangerous batter across formats.
Speaking on Star Sports' Cricket Live, Harbhajan Singh said, "You never see Virat Kohli play risky shots, he always looks to play in the 'V'. He has proper cricketing shots and that is why he's such a great batter. Kohli is a proper batter and he can play any format of the game be it Tests, T20s or even T10s because of the supreme technique."
Harbhajan Singh also hailed the future of Indian cricket, Shubman Gill - who many believe is an heir-apparent to Virat Kohli. The former India cricketer went on to highlight the stark contrasts between Kohli and Gill.
Speaking on Star Sports' Cricket Live, Harbhajan Singh said, "Shubman Gill constructs his innings brilliantly. He has his own persona and possesses that lazy elegance, unlike intense Virat Kohli. He can play all kinds of shots with ease just like Kohli, but he won't appear as aggressive as Kohli with his body language. He is a different character. He's such a prospective talent for India."
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