The Indian Premier League 2020 has crossed its halfway mark and is nearing its fag end. Each side has played 9 matches out of the total of 14. The points table is shaping up nicely at the moment. The IPL which was shifted to the UAE this year has already seen a plethora of great knocks, tight spells, amazing catches and nail-biting encounters.
As the tournament enters its second half, we take a look at each side’s chances of making it to the playoffs.
1. Delhi Capitals – 14 points
Delhi Capitals’ (DC) have gone from strength to strength since Ricky Ponting took over as their head coach. They now find themselves level at the top of the table after 9 games. DC seem to have all their bases covered this season – they have a solid batting line-up comprising of talented Indians and a nice mix of overseas middle-order batters. Further, they boast of a terrific bowling attack. Their pace bowling department consisting of South Africans Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje has troubled many a batsman.
DC players have suffered from injuries a bit. Rishabh Pant has been ruled out for a week and Ishant Sharma will miss the rest of the tournament. However, DC definitely have it in them to make it to the playoffs or even to win the title. DC’s priority will be to finish in the top two.
2. Mumbai Indians – 12 points
Defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) have arguably the least problems to worry about. Their team combination looks perfect and well-set. They don’t have a lot of injury worries concerning them. Their pace bowling trio of Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah and James Pattinson are breathing fire at the moment. Their batting line-up consists of a mix of promising and potentially future international players like Surya Kumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan.
They are ably led by their captain Rohit Sharma and coach Mahela Jayewardene. As far as evaluating their probability of making the playoffs is concerned, it looks certain that MI will make the playoffs despite their recent Super Over debacle against Kings XI Punjab, unless a stunning implosion occurs. Their aim will now be to ensure they finish in the top two spots and play in the Qualifier 1.
3. Royal Challengers Bangalore – 12 points
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) who have never won the IPL in the past looks like a team that is capable of finally winning it this year. Their team embodies balance this year, something they’ve seldom had in the past. They have a settled batting line-up led at the top by the young and impressive Devdutt Padikkal. They then have the ever-dependable Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. They also have good finishers in their armory.
Their bowling attack has been bolstered since the arrival of Chris Morris and with Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal weaving magic, RCB look to be in good stead to make it to the playoffs this year. Once again, RCB’s biggest rival will be their own self-belief and their troubled past where they have choked from promising situations. But this year, there seems to be no sign of a potential choke but RCB will be wary.
4. Kolkata Knight Riders – 10 points
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) find themselves at the fourth and final playoff spot at the halfway point of the tournament. KKR this year have done a lot of chopping and changing with regard to their team combination. Their batting order has changed quite a lot over the course of the tournament and so has their bowling options and combinations. But KKR have flourished thanks to good captaincy by Dinesh Karthik ably assisted by deputy Eoin Morgan.
KKR have a few problems to deal with, however. Following Sunil Narine being reported for a suspect action and his subsequent axing from the playing XI, KKR’s bowling attack seemed to lack teeth during the game against RCB. But Lockie Ferguson breathed fire in KKR’s next game to ensure Narine wasn’t missed. However, KKR will want to have Narine available as soon as possible. KKR still have a long way to go as far as their bid for a playoff spot is concerned. Though they are in a position of strength, things can very easily change in the IPL and KKR will have to be careful and clinical as the tournament progresses.
5. Sunrisers Hyderabad – 6 points
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) did look very good as a unit with their captain David Warner at the helm at the beginning. They seemed to have got their team combination right. They also seemed to have ticked all boxes – a strong top order, young but capable middle order and dependable bowlers as always. However, they haven’t seized key moments to win games. This has meant they find themselves at 5th spot 4 points adrift of 4th placed KKR following a Super Over loss against the same team.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s loss to injury came as a huge blow to SRH and it is evident that they miss his services. The race to the top won’t be easy by any means. They will have to be consistent in their performances to displace KKR from the top 4.
6. Kings XI Punjab – 6 points
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) found themselves languishing at the bottom of the table with just a solitary win to show for their efforts at the halfway stage. In all honesty, they hadn’t been too bad as the table suggested. A lot of close moments and encounters had gone against the KL Rahul-led team. Despite their skipper being on top of the Orange Cap list and bowlers Ravi Bishnoi and Mohammad Shami shining, KXIP weren’t able to do the most important thing in the tournament: win. However, they seem to have an outside chance now to make the playoffs following two consecutive wins including the insane Super Over match against MI.
With just 3 wins in 9 and 8 being the magic number to get to the playoffs, it still looks highly unlikely that KXIP will make it to the playoffs. Even if they manage to put on one extraordinary performance after another, one false note and their whole season will come crashing down. If KXIP do manage to pull it off i.e. qualify for the playoffs, it will be a story for the ages.
7. Chennai Super Kings – 6 points
Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) form has been the biggest talking point of the IPL. The franchise which has never failed to reach the playoffs in IPL history is staring down the barrel at the prospect of missing out on the playoffs for the first time. So many questions have been raised on CSK this year. Their team combination, batting order, intent shown, MS Dhoni to name a few. And CSK have found it difficult to address the problems in their squad and hence the questions raised.
CSK look shakier than ever. Their team is aging and tiring. None of the players look like they can pull off miraculous chases like they did in the past. It’s all looking grey for the Dhoni-led side. They will have to pull off something remarkably special to make it to the playoffs. They will have to come together as a unit and be ruthless in their approach to do so. Unless they do it, it will be curtains on their chances to maintain a perfect record with regard to qualifying for the playoffs.
8. Rajasthan Royals – 6 points
Rajasthan Royals (RR) have had a strange season so far. They made a terrific start to the tournament by winning two in a row at Sharjah courtesy of Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia’s brilliance. But once they moved out of Sharjah, they lost four in a row. Their batting did not come together. The likes of Steve Smith, Jos Buttler and Robin Uthappa all failed with the bat. They looked to be heading to a fifth consecutive defeat before Rahul Tewatia bailed them out again along with Riyan Parag. They then lost their following game thanks to an AB de Villiers show for RCB.
RR haven’t come together as a unit this year. They’ve always looked for moments of individual brilliance. That will have to change if they are to have any chance of making it to the playoffs. The return of Ben Stokes is a huge boost to their hopes and the Englishman will look to inspire the team with his performances. A playoff spot looks highly unlikely.