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IPL talking points: The business end of the season awaits as Hardik Pandya's return to Mumbai Indians fails to work

In his latest column, Matt Kabir Floyd chats the business end of the IPL season, Hardik Pandya's move to the Mumbai Indians and it failing to work for all sides, as well as looking at the English batters' peaks and troughs; watch every IPL match live on Sky Sports

Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya waits at the dressing room as it rains before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 11, 2024. (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --
Image: Hardik Pandya returned to the Mumbai Indians from the Gujarat Titans

Matt Kabir Floyd reflects on the business end of the IPL season, as Hardik Pandya's move to the Mumbai Indians from the Gujarat Titans fails to work for all sides.

And so after a gruelling few weeks we have reached the business end of the IPL. It's no good charging out of the blocks in this tournament only to get overtaken on the final lap. T20 may be the shortest international format by a distance but the IPL is very much a marathon, not a sprint.

Mumbai and Punjab never really looked like lasting the course and Gujarat fell away having got themselves in a decent position to challenge for the top four.

This was a side that had been to the final in each of its first two years of existence and was starting to look like it could be on the way to creating the next big IPL dynasty. But Hardik Pandya's decision to head back to Mumbai seemed to diminish the aura around the Titans.

Not only did they miss his inspirational leadership, but his runs too. Bizarrely, Hardik's captaincy seemed to make the Indians weaker and he even ended up getting booed by sections of his own fans, which is almost unheard of in India. Rarely has a move worked out so badly for both teams involved!

Gujarat may have fallen away, but Rajasthan are the specialists in falling away. At least this year they had enough wins in the bank to still make the play-offs, but their four game losing streak doesn't exactly inspire confidence for the knockout stages.

This has happened a number of times in IPL seasons now and it can't just be chance. Lack of depth has to be a major factor - while the Royals' first XI looks immensely strong, there is a big drop off in quality when it comes to the back-ups. I hope I'm wrong but I'd be surprised if they turned it around and made it to the final.

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The Sunrisers on the other hand seem like they have got their mojo back. A slight wobble of three losses in four raised some concerns but Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma's destruction of the Super Giants sent another fearsome message to the rest of the tournament.

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Highlights from the IPL as Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Lucknow Super Giants by 10 wickets, chasing their target of 166 in just 58 balls!

I reckon they may even finish in the top two ahead of the Royals, who have to play table-toppers Kolkata in their final group match. If they do, that first qualifier between the Knight Riders and Sunrisers is sure to be a blockbuster starring runs, runs and more runs!

Delhi and Lucknow's negative net run-rate means you can rule them out of the play-offs, which leaves us with the Royal Challengers and Super Kings. And guess what? They play each other on Saturday. It will effectively be winner takes all at the Chinnaswamy, a stadium with arguably the best atmosphere in the competition, this is not one to miss.

IPL says goodbye to England's T20 World Cup players

Sadly, it's adieu to the England T20 World Cup players who are done and dusted at the IPL. It was a funny old tournament for them.

Lots of troughs but some massive peaks too, namely four centuries scored by English players, the most ever in a season.

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Phil Salt showed what he can do against Delhi Capitals as he smashed five sixes in an emphatic IPL win for Kolkata Knight Riders

Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Will Jacks showed that on their day they are as destructive as any batter in the world, while Phil Salt was the most consistent of the lot.

Sam Curran continued his all-round rehabilitation, Moeen Ali was underused and Liam Livingstone underwhelmed before picking up an injury.

Spare a thought for Reece Topley though - he's had to bowl on one of the flattest decks at the smallest stadium, in a year when batters have been running riot like never before. Keep your chin up Reece, it will hopefully be slightly easier for bowlers at the World Cup!

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