The IPL 1/3rd Season Round-up

Right, most teams have played around five games by now, so I'm going to evaluate their performances based on my own predictions so far.

Royal Challengers Bangalore 5 4 1 0 8 1.331
Mumbai Indians 4 3 1 0 6 1.330
Deccan Chargers 4 3 1 0 6 0.450
Chennai Super Kings 5 2 3 0 4 -0.004
Rajasthan Royals 5 2 3 0 4 -0.425
Kolkata Knight Riders 5 2 3 0 4 -0.851
Delhi Daredevils 5 2 3 0 4 -0.919
Kings XI Punjab 5 1 4 0 2 -0.5333

The points table suggests that this is the most wide-open title race the IPL has seen so far. RCB are at the top with 8 points, having played a match more than MI and DC. They also have an identical net run rate to MI, so should MI beat CSK tomorrow they will overtake RCB. The bottom 2 are, surprisingly, two quality sides in DD and KXIP, who are capable of turning things around quick - adding evidence to my point about the title race being wide open. Even RR and KKR are still in it, as much as I'd like to deny it.

Now then, the teams.

Kolkata Knight Riders - Started brightly with a couple of wins, but since then their haplessness has resurfaced and the scratchiness of Hodge and Ganguly has hurt them a great deal. I never thought I'd say they're missing Agarkar, but they are - they need a third seamer pronto as they don't really seem to trust Dinda too much, which is odd. But it's not odd that they're being odd. Anyway, Gayle seems in good touch now, and B-Mac's return (still some time away) will reinforce them, they just need to hang on.

Rajasthan Royals - They had a predictably terrible start, losing three in a row as they experimented with the lineup. Warne seems to have found a working one now, and they've won two games. Michael Lumb found some form today, and the likes of Faiz Fazal (who said should play in the first place), Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (ditto) and Sid Trivedi are turning out to be consistent performers. Worrying signs are Warne's own lack of impact, and Tait's super-leaky spells. They may not last long enough until Watson arrives.

Deccan Chargers - Their success can attributed largely to Vaas' early wickets, he's been a phenomenal seat-warmer and he's lost none of his prodigious swing. Gilly has provided consistently quick starts, Gibbs and Symonds have controlled the middle overs, and Rohit Sharma + T Suman have provided good finishes. RP Singh has gotten thrashed. Ojha has been economical. That's pretty much the whole story, what a boring team.

Kings XI Punjab - Because every competition needs a disaster team. Punjab just look like a team short of confidence. After rapid starts, the middle and lower order has failed over and over again. Look no further than Yuvraj's poor form - he's the icon player and has thrown his wicket away every match. The one match he played well in was the only one Punjab has won, and that too marginally via a Super Over. Kaif is unreasonable being persisted with. As for the bowling - Sreesanth has been a buffet bowler, Irfan Pathan is a batsman, Srivastava is a lefty Sreesanth, Powar was dropped after a good game, and Chawla's been good. Haha. Good news: Shaun Marsh and Brett Lee are back and Preity has not lost her optimism.

Chennai Super Kings - Not much to say here. Dhoni fit - CSK wins. Oh wait, some other stuff. Murali's back in form and CSK still have crappy quick bowlers. News is that they've bought Bollinger, that would be sensational if true. Haydos is using a bat that is all middle, and bar one innings he still can't find the middle. Boo.

Delhi Daredevils - Injury has weakened them. Nehra's absence means the bowling's lacking some sting. Sehwag needs his buddy Gambhir at the top. Dilshan didn't score many and was dropped. And when Warner finally came up with the goods, the middle order failed. Looking at you, AB. They actually played Henriques, that's what they've come to. Oh, and Karthik sucks as captain.

Bangalore Royal Challengers - Continued where they left off last season - Kallis and Pandey firing at the top, Kumble bowling amazingly well, the Kumars - Praveen and Vinay - among the wickets. Uthappa has been outstanding, I may add - superb clean hitting resulting in some of the biggest sixes in the IPL. Morgan and Dravid haven't had to bat much at all, too. Definitely champ-material, and Taylor hasn't even joined them yet.

Mumbai Indians - The other team that's looked the most balanced - they've changed the lineup a huge deal from last season, placing more trust in Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu, and it has paid off. Sachin has rolled back the years and provided good starts - Tare at one-down has fulfilled his pinch-hitter role adequately, and Tiwary and Rayudu have ensured that none of the momentum is lost in the middle and death overs. Bravo and Pollard haven't had a big role so far, which shows how strong the team is. Zaheer and Malinga are keeping a lid on the runs and Harby has impressed. The medium-pace trio of Bravo, Pollard and Sathish are the most vulnerable thing about this team, but the other areas are covering up for them.

That was tedious, pat on the back for me. Expect a much shorter one, the 2/3rd season round-up, in another 10 days or so. Can't imagine the workload next year, with the Pune Pompoms and the Kochi Katerwaulers being added to the list and players being thrown around like nobody's business. Damn those $ 210 million deals.