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Is it finally time for RCB to end their winless streak or are Mumbai set for another winning year? Can any of the chasing teams upset those odds?
The schedule for IPL season has been released. That should be an exciting fixture particularly considering they round off the top 2 teams we have selected to be the strongest based on the auction results.
However, as we all know there can be plenty of surprises, particularlly as we were shown with Sunrisers Hyderabad in , so either way we await the entire season with great anticipation. Currently, there is a fairly tight grouping among 6 teams according to online bookies with only Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab falling outside the pack.
See our full analysis of the IPL 11 Auction. Another thrilling IPL campaign draws to a close and we witnessed one of the most dramatic finals ever with Mumbai Indians claiming victory over the Rising Pune Supergiant by just one run. Losing finalists Pune recovered well after a slow start and deserved their place in the final but just fell short in their run chase.
Ben Stokes, Rising Pune Supergiant: Bhuvneshwar Kumar Sunrisers Hyderabad 26 wickets from 14 matches at an average of David Warner Sunrisers Hyderabad. For the purposes of the the odds chart above, the odds max at It seems as if the top four had been settled for some time even though a late surge from Kings XI Punjab had threatened to challenge their monopoly.
However, as KXIP collapsed to 73 all out in Mumbai Indians were the first to book a place in the play offs and ultimately claimed top spot in the group table. Key to their success will lie in making big scores and to hope that their bowling line up, which has changed to accommodate Mitchell Johnson, can get them over the line.
The Knight Riders slipped to third place with their defeat to Mumbai on Saturday having been second for so long, and that could be a demoralising factor. Chris Lynn is back but Sunil Narine is not reliable at the top of the order and KKR may need to reconsider his pinch hitting role. That leaves Sunrisers Hyderabad who have the top two players in the race for the Purple Cap.
David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan have been prolific but they need better support and one concern will be their weaker form away from home. SRH lost four out of six games on the road so how will they fare on neutral ground in the eliminator?
Week 5 finally started to fill in the gaps in terms of who would progress to the next phase of the tournament and who we would say goodbye to ahead of the knockouts.
It was also a week where further records tumbled in what has been another thrilling edition of the IPL. A season of setting records for the wrong reasons, including the lowest IPL total of 49, is best forgotten and RCB will have to wait another year at least.
Also out are the Gujarat Lions who have entertained us and have recorded some memorable victories but four wins in twelve games so far was never going to be enough to make it out of the groups. Barring a miracle, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rising Pune Supergiant will be next to cement their places in the next round.
KKR have been their usual, consistent selves and with Chris Lynn back after injury, they could be peaking at the right time to claim another title. Rising Pune Supergiant have been impressive after a slow start with Ben Stokes getting much of the credit for their recovery but it was MS Dhoni who led that initially, smashing his team to an unlikely win over the Sunrisers.
Hyderabad are therefore hot favourites to progress but all will be confirmed over the course of the next few days. A week ago things were still very tight in the race for the knockout places but with some teams having just four games left to play, the group table is finally starting to take shape. Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders are together on 14 points at the top while the top four as a whole are beginning to pull away from the chasing pack. KKR may have lost to the Sunrisers at the weekend but they stay just ahead of Mumbai on net run rate and look like certainties for the next phase.
Their success is mainly built around the quality and depth of their bowling while Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa are finding enough form with the bat. Mumbai should join the Knight Riders in the knockouts and will go top of the table if they win their game in hand. Parthiv Patel, Jos Buttler and Nitish Rana have made the runs in recent games but they would like to see skipper Rohit Sharma find some touch.
David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are ahead of the pack but are getting plenty of support through the team and few will bet against this side making it through to a second successive final. Rising Pune Supergiant takes fourth place right now and have recovered well after a slow start.
A successful chase of just 67 did, however, show that with Martin Guptill, they finally have their best mix of overseas players. At this stage of the groups therefore, the battle to progress to the next phase seems to be between five teams. With most teams at the half way point of the group stage, RCB are now bottom of the pile and while we know that they have started slowly in the past, they really must start winning from their next game onwards to stand any chance of progressing.
Mumbai Indians stand at the summit having just completed their sixth win in a row and the leaders have everything they need to cement a top four place.
The change at the top of the batting order has started to work with both Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma making runs in unfamiliar positions while Nitish Rana has carried the team over the line when needed.
Bowling looks strong too and we can surely look forward to seeing Mumbai in the knockouts. Kolkata Knight Riders are second and may consider themselves fortunate to have overcome RCB but their best qualities were evident in that strange win.
We can probably book Kolkata into the last four and defending champions the Sunrisers should be there too, although they will need to improve a record that has seen them lose all three matches away from home. Their batting and balance of the overall side look much better now that Kane Williamson has been included and if they stay strong in Hyderabad at least, they should make it through to the knockouts. The remaining knockout places are very much open but the sides below the top two need to put together a consistent string of winning results to retain any hope of progressing.
There are some surprises, with pre-tournament favourites Royal Challengers Bangalore right at the bottom of the table while Mumbai and KKR are battling it out at the top. Both teams have been impressive with Nitish Rana top scoring in three games for the Indians while receiving support from Kieron Pollard and it would have been a relief to see Rohit Sharma back in the runs against Gujarat Lions.
Kolkata have overcome the loss of Chris Lynn to injury in an innovative way — promoting Sunil Narine to open the innings and his pinch hitting was effective in their win against Kings XI.
Of the teams outside of the top four, no-one has really shown any real promise so far. KXIP started brightly with two straight wins but their old problems have returned and a reliance on Glenn Maxwell for runs has exposed a weak bowling attack when the new skipper fails.
Rising Pune Supergiant has two wins but has played five games so will be hoping they can take some momentum from their impressive win over RCB on Sunday. Meanwhile, Gujarat Lions have been really disappointing , winning just once while taking only one opposition wicket in their opening two matches.
But, bottom of the pile are RCB who really should have claimed their second victory over Pune on Sunday. They are notoriously slow starters and were missing both Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers at the beginning of IPL 10 but their key men are back and they need to start winning games.
Khan has improved an already impressive squad and few would bet against SRH right now. We only have one other undefeated team but perhaps even more surprisingly, Kings XI Punjab are without a loss so far, even though they have only appeared once at the time of writing. The team who needs to improve most is Gujarat Lions who have lost both opening matches and have taken just one wicket so far.
They are clearly missing Ravi Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo and will want them back in the side as soon as possible. RCB lost their opener to the Sunrisers before overcoming a poor Delhi team. Things will become clearer over the next week for those franchises in what has been a fascinating start to the tournament. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore will get things underway on Wednesday but the focus at the moment is on the outright tournament and some significant withdrawals.
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