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Australians at the IPL – David Warner times it right, Steven Smith departs and two big names dropped

The group stage of the IPL is completed which means the end of the road for some of the Australians on display, while a few retain hope of getting their hands on the prize. Here’s how the final qualifying matches played out for them

Warner times it right

Another IPL and another consistent performance from David Warner, if not quite at the levels of his previous three editions in 2016, 2017 and 2019. He has come to the fore in the final week as Sunrisers Hyderabad strung together three consecutive wins to nab the final qualifying spot. He thrashed 66 off 34 balls against Delhi Capitals followed by an unbeaten 85 off 58 balls which powered them to a decisive 10-wicket victory against Mumbai Indians. The opening stand with Wriddhiman Saha certainly clicked, after the previously pairing with Jonny Bairstow was broken up, as they added 107 and 151 in the space of three matches.

Cummins’ late surge as KKR fall short

Pat Cummins took three times as many wickets in his last four matches as he managed in the first 10, but a Player-of-the-Match performance in the last group match – where he took 4 for 34 – against Rajasthan Royals, which included the wicket of Steven Smith, was not enough for Kolkata Knight Riders when SRH won their final match. His spell did not start in the best way, with the first five balls going for 19, before Robin Uthappa picked out deep square. In his next over he had Ben Stokes brilliantly caught behind then nabbed Smith. Given three consecutive overs in the Powerplay a short ball removed Riyan Parag to leave the Royals 37 for 5. Their season was over, KKR’s was a few days later.

ALSO READ: Shane Watson retires from all cricket

Finch and Maxwell dropped

Two of Australia’s key limited-overs players did not finish the group stages in their respective XIs. Aaron Finch was dropped by Royal Challengers Bangalore at the beginning of the last week, to be replaced by fellow countryman Josh Philippe at the top of the order, after a tournament where he had failed to build on his starts except for one half-century. When asked if that created any concerns ahead of the India series, Australia head coach Justin Langer said: “Nah…I had a good talk to him last night, if anyone was going to replace him I’m glad Josh did because he’s getting some great experience. I’m not concerned about Aaron’s form, we know what a brilliant leader he is developing into and he’s one of the best players in the world.”

Meanwhile, Glenn Maxwell’s forgettable tournament concluded by being dropped for Kings XI Punjab’s final match which they lost heavily against already eliminated Chennai Super Kings to miss the knockouts. Kings XI picked Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Jimmy Neesham and Chris Jordan as their four overseas players. Maxwell finished the competition with a top score 32 and without hitting a six.

Stoinis’ fading returns

Marcus Stoinis started the tournament with a bang with a 21-ball 53 and then added 53 off 26 against RCB a couple of weeks later, but since then it has been a case of diminishing returns. His 10 not out against RCB in the final group game was his first double-figure score in five innings as Delhi Capitals clinched a knockout spot. With Mitchell Marsh not picked for the India limited-overs matches, as he continues his recovery from his ankle injury, Stoinis can expect to retain his spot in Australia’s team although could be pressured by the uncapped Cameron Green.

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Smith’s Royals finish bottom

It has been one of the most tightly contested group stages in IPL history but someone has to finish bottom and this year that’s Steven Smith’s franchise Rajasthan Royals. Their mid-season struggles became too much to overcome despite two late wins inspired by Stokes, the tournament ending with a heavy 60-run defeat against KKR. Smith’s tournament finished up being underwhelming – 311 runs at 25.91 – as he shuffled around the order having started as an opener then finished at No. 4. It was his lowest average for any IPL, although the strike-rate of 131.22 was higher than the 2017 and 2019 editions.

Bench warming

While there were 19 Australians with IPL franchises, a significant proportion of them have not seen much action. Chris Lynn (Mumbai Indians) and Billy Stanlake (Sunrisers Hyderabad) have not played a match in the group stage while AJ Tye (Royals) made just one appearance as did Chris Green (KKR). Alex Carey briefly filled in for the injured Rishabh Pant at the Capitals, Daniel Sams has made two appearances for them and Adam Zampa (RCB) has not been used since two early-tournament outings. Josh Hazlewood played three times for CSK so there will be fewer concerns over any physical weariness heading into the India series.

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