At the end of the first phase of the Indian Premier League, which was staged at the United Arab Emirates the team standings show that Kings XI Punjab, a perpetual bridesmaid so far, has made it to the top. From a cricketing point of view their success has been well deserved because of how they picked their squad during the auctions – they have worthy replacements in every department and thus look set to march to the playoffs where they can aim to win their first tournament ever.
Chennai Super Kings, who had faltered in their first match to the KXIP, have gone on to win all their remaining games in the same calm and collected way that has been the hallmark of their game in the preceding seasons. Rajasthan Royals, which almost won the Champions League T20 last season, has appeared to be a little ragged this season but has still won 3 of its 5 games. Kolkata Knight Riders, which features in the top half of the league leader board, has contrived to lose some very close games and won a game, which it may well have lost, thanks to an outstanding piece of athleticism at the very last ball of the match by their Australian import Chris Lynn.
The other teams such as Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad, which find themselves in the lower half of the table, can mount a comeback given the depth in their side. However, there are some teething issues for both these teams – for Bangalore it is their batting, which has cost them a couple of games already, and for Hyderabad it is the lack of economy of their spinners. In fact for a team with a strong batting line up like that of Bangalore this is a strange occurrence of sorts. Still, if they can overcome these problems there is no reason as to why both the teams should not get back atop the chart.
The main problem with teams bringing up the rear – Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils – is that, perhaps, sufficient attention was not given when the teams were being picked at the auction. Delhi does not have sufficient Indian bowlers who can bat well, which means that they are going in with several overseas options in this regard. Their main bowler Mohammad Shami has also not been able to perform at his best. Mumbai does not have any allrounder in the reserves and the ones that they are playing – Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard – have been misfiring more often than not. Probably these teams would need to buy new players if they can and plug the holes in the side so that they can make an effort at a comeback later on in the tournament.
Glenn Maxwell – He has been at the forefront of the wonderful run of Kings XI scoring 300 runs from 5 games with an average of 60, a highest of 95 and a tremendous strike rate of 201.34. He has 3 fifties so far.
Dwayne Smith ¬– The marauding opener cum medium pacer for Chennai Super Kings has amassed 240 runs from 5 games at an average of 48. He has hammered 3 half centuries with a highest of 66 and gone at a strike rate of 143.71.
Brendon McCullum – His partnership with Dwayne Smith atop the order for CSK has been one reason for the Chennai team’s marvelous run. He has scored 193 runs at an average of 48.25 and a strike rate of 127.81. He has scored two 50s and his highest score has been a 71 not out.
Ajinkya Rahane – The soft spoken Rajasthan Royals opener has let his bat do the talking once again. He has scored 182 runs at an average of 36.40 and got those runs at a strike rate of 120.52. His highest so far is 72 and he has also scored one more 50.
JP Duminy – Perhaps one of the few bright spots of an otherwise gloomy campaign for Delhi Daredevils, JP Duminy has scored 173 runs at an average of 86.50 and a strike rate of 135.15. He has a brace of half centuries to his credit and his highest knock has been a 67 not out.
Sunil Narine – The wily offspinner from West Indies has led KKR’s campaign with the ball and claimed 9 wickets in 5 matches at an average of 11.88 and a strike rate of 13.3. He has given away 107 runs so far in 20 overs at a miserly economy rate of 5.35.
Varun Aaron ¬– The fast bowler has been the star performer for RCB’s bowling unit with 8 wickets in 4 games at an average of only 10.50. He has maintained an uncharacteristically fantastic economy rate of 5.66 and a tremendous strike rate of 11.1. His best bowling performance has been 3/16.
Mohit Sharma – The Chennai Super Kings seamer has picked up 8 wickets from 5 games and that too at an average of 13.25. His strike rate has been 11.8 and he has conceded 6.69 runs per over in the tournament so far. His best bowling performance has been a 4/14.
Lasith Malinga – Once again, Lasith Malinga has been the spearhead for Mumbai with 8 wickets in 5 games at an average of 14.87. Having given away only 6.1 runs per over he has maintained a strike rate of 14.6. His finest bowling performance has been a 4/23.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar – The SRH seamer has claimed 8 wickets in 5 games and outperformed the likes of Dale Steyn and Amit Mishra. His wickets have come at an average of 15 and a strike rate of 14.6. He has also conceded only 6.15 runs per over. His best bowling performance has been 3/19.