After 21 matches in IPL 2015, the race to the Play Offs is now in full swing. Rajasthan Royals stand high atop the points table but the race is just heating up.
Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad show signs of making the ‘middle muddle’ interesting to watch. Ironically, the two star studded teams – Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians – are struggling at the bottom of the ladder.
Let us take a look at which franchises are most likely to end up in the semi finals.
Top Contender for IPL 2015 Play Offs – Rajasthan Royals
With 5 wins out of 6 matches, and the solitary loss coming in a Super Over, Rajasthan Royals look well set to recreate some of the magic that they had conjured up in 2008. And the Aussie influence on RR is still going strong!
From Shane Warne in the first few editions, to the trio of Shane Watson, Steven Smith and James Faulkner this time – Rajasthan have sourced much of their leadership from Australia.
Their never ending emphasis on harnessing the vast potential of the youngsters in the squad has worked yet again. Deepak Hooda appears to be the find of the season. The openers – Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane – have done the bulk of the scoring for the team in the last couple of games.
Pravin Tambe, the standout spinner in the squad has defied the barriers of age to provide crucial breakthroughs under pressure. Chris Morris has bowled a tight line and length as the frontline seamer. Dhawal Kulkarni, James Faulkner and Stuart Binny have complemented him well. In short, RR have all the ingredients to make it to the last 4 this time.
The Evergreen Franchise – Chennai Super Kings
Like all the previous editions of IPL, Chennai Super Kings are at their evergreen best.
The openers – Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum – have plundered runs at will, and put CSK ahead of the opposition on a number of occasions. Dwayne Bravo, MS Dhoni and Faf du Plessis make up the rearguard of this powerful batting line up.
Ravindra Jadeja is available as a floater on any given day. The bowling has found new rhythm owing to the reemergence of veteran Indian pacer Ashish Nehra, who is the current purple cap holder. Ishwar Pandey has aptly proved his utility at the top of the bowling order, with tight spells every now and then. Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are tough to negotiate because of their clever variations. With 4 wins out of 5, CSK look well poised to be seal a Semi final spot this year.
Defending Champions – Kolkata Knight Riders
Defending champions KKR look formidable enough to mount a defence of their title. Gautam Gambhir has led from the front, scoring the quick runs at the top with Suryakumar Yadav taking over the reins of the middle order quite well.
The absence of Shakib Al Hasan, owing to national commitments, might hurt KKR a little. But they have capable enough replacements in Ryan Ten Doeschate, Johan Botha and Azhar Mahmood. Andre Russel has gradually evolved into a mature T20 finisher, and has already single handedly won a match for KKR(against KXIP).
Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav’s intimidating pace in combination with Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine’s tweakers lend an aura of robustness to the KKR bowling unit. Even though they have lost 2 of their 5 matches so far, KKR have all that they need to make it to the last 4 yet again.
Middle Muddle – Kings XI Punjab/ Sunrisers Hyderabad/Delhi Daredevils
Three teams are currently fighting it out to establish some sort a toehold on the tournament this year. All three have been on and off the radar, showing periodic glimpses of excellence, which have been interspersed with occasional exhibitions of mediocrity.
While SRH appear overdependent on the performances of their skipper David Warner, KXIP have not been able to collect themselves as a team in most of the matches this year.
While Delhi Daredevils have managed to get out of the protracted slump of the last edition, they have not been consistent enough to become clear-cut contenders of a last 4 spot. As of yet, the likelihood of one among these three reaching the final lap look high.
Given this is a prediction post, we would bet on Delhi Daredevils getting to the semi finals as the spin twins, Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir are doing well and it is likely that Yuvraj Singh will also take off at some point in time !