The thirteenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) being played at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reached the halfway stage with all eight teams having played 7 games each in their respective league assignments.
It took a little while for the players, support staff and match officials to get adjusted to the ‘new normal’ and be confined within the stringent bio secure bubble in the UAE amidst the threat of Covid-19 looming large on Season 13 of the marquee T20 league..
All the eight IPL teams were thrown up to a new challenge of playing on much bigger grounds with sandier outfields in the soaring heat of the Arabian desert.
While the batsmen ruled the roost on the batting paradise at the shimmering Sharjah deck, the bowlers seemed to have had their share of the pie at Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where the contest between the willow and white cherry was a bit more even.
The high flying actions has kept the fans engrossed and at the edge of their seats with some mammoth totals, record breaking chases, six hitting spectacle and game changing spells
At the half-way stage of the tournament, three teams in MI, DC and RCB have raced away to the top of the table, while others have blown hot and cold in the quick paced and highly erratic shortest format where the margins between winning and losing are very fine .
A closer look at the IPL 2020 points table gives you the first blue print of which teams stand a realistic chance of making it to the playoffs
Mumbai Indians (MI), Delhi Capitals (DC) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Front-runners To Book Playoff Spots
Mumbai Indians: Played 7 Won 5 Lost 2 NRR +1.327 Points 10
Delhi Capitals: Played 7 Won 5 Lost 2 NRR +1.038 Points 10
Delhi Capitals (DC), Mumbai Indians (MI) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) who occupy the top three places at the half way stage are the front-runners to book spots in the playoffs. With five wins each in their seven games and a handy cushion over the mid-table challengers; DC,MI and RCB would fancy their chances to end up among the top four teams and get into the knockouts.
Delhi and Mumbai also have an added advantage of good net run rates owing to their dominant wins in the first half of the season.
Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians seem to be the most well-rounded sides with firepower in both their batting and bowling arsenal. It is not just with the willow that their belligerent stroke-makers have made merry but the bowling unit has come to the fore by defending totals and restricting oppositions at the crucial death overs
Equation For MI And DC To Qualify For Play-Offs: 2-3 more wins from their remaining 7 matches will ensure MI and DC a place in the top 4. They will push hard and continue their winning momentum to finish among the top 2 and enhance their chances of making it to the finals with two attempts to qualify.
3. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Played 7 Won 5 Lost 2 NRR -0.116 Points 10
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) who were up and down in the opening week seem to have found their groove with most of their star players coming into form in the third week of the tournament.
Skipper Virat Kohli getting runs under his belt after a lackluster start is a big relief for the ‘Red and Gold’ Brigade who otherwise are faring well with opener Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch and AB De Villiers in good touch.
Bringing in Isuru Udana and Chris Morris in place of speedsters Dale Steyn and Umesh Yadav who proved to be really expensive in the first few games has worked wonders for Bangalore-based franchise
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washinton Sundar have been the nucleus of Kohli’s bowling Armory picking up wickets consistently and choking the opposition with some economical spells.
Kolkata Knight Rider and Sunrisers Hyderabad Very Much In The Race
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) – 4th Place
Played 7 Won- 4 Lost- 3 NRR -0.577 Points- 8
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) – 5th Place
Played- 7 Won- 3 Lost- 4 NRR +0.153 Points- 6
Over the past few seasons of the IPL, it has been seen that the battle for the fourth spot goes down to the wire with a couple of teams stuck on the same points. Sitting at the fourth and fifth spot not too far behind the table toppers, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad are very much in the race to make the playoffs at the half-way stage.
Equation to Qualify: Both KKR and SRH need to win at least 4 off their remaining 7 games to qualify for the playoffs. They would also hope for RCB to falter in the business end of the tournament.
Rajasthan Royals – 6th Place
Rajasthan Royals: Played 7 Won 3 Lost 4 NRR -0.872 Points 6
After setting up the tournament on fire with Samson-Smith pyrotechnics at the Sharjah batting heaven, Rajasthan Royals have been rather mediocre and subdued, showing vulnerability against quality oppositions in testing conditions.
Over dependency on skipper Steve Smith, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson have hurt their batting fortunes and their volatile bowling has shown some flashes of brilliance with some fiery spell from their lethal English seamer Jofra Archer. There have been some absolute blinders played by Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag but they will auger for a much more collective effort from their playing XI in the remaining games.
Equation to Qualify: Smith-led Royals too have a to win at least 4 off their remaining 7 games to qualify for the playoffs. They would also benefit if KKR and SRH go into a losing streak in the business end of the tournament.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS (CSK)
Chennai Super Kings – 7th Place
CSK: Played 7 Won 2 Lost 5 NRR -0.588 Points 4
It is hard to believe the ever consistent Chennai Super Kings stutter and struggle at the bottom half of after the first seven games of the season. Rare but a stark reality, Dhoni and Co. have an uphill task to resurrect their derailed campaign and make it to the top four at the end of the league assignment.
Injury concerns, lack of clarity in assigning roles, spinners lacking venom and an inconsistent batting performance are multiple baggage the 3-time champions carry along into the business end of the tournament.
Equation to Qualify: CSK need to win at least 5 off their remaining 7 games with a decent run rate too.
KINGS ELEVEN PUNJAB (KXIP)
Kings Eleven Punjab – 8th Place
KXIP – Played 7 Won 1 Lost 6 NRR – (.381) Points 2
It seems all but over for Kings Eleven Punjab (KXIP) after a nightmarish outing in the first half of the tournament. The points table may not reflect as the KL Rahul-team has squandered away some match winning positions to end up on the losing side. The bowling has been a major let down for ‘Kings’ conceding runs a plenty after the ever consistent KL Rahul-Mayank Agarwal opening duo have put them in the driver’s seat with the bat in quite a few games.
Equation to Qualify: Punjab need to win at least 6 out of the remaining seven games and would also want CSK, RR and SRH to falter