The Indian Premier League is halfway done with 3 franchises (KXIP, RPS, RCB) facing a tall order to earn a playoff spot. It comes as no surprise that all the aforementioned sides are unevenly balanced and deficient in options in one or the other department.
The Mumbai Indians have had a middling tournament so far, while GL, DD, KKR and SRH are strongly placed thanks to their settled XIs, leading to consistent showings.
Gujarat Lions boast of as many as 4 in-form top-order batters in McCullum, Smith, Finch and Raina. Allround options aplenty but it is Dwayne Bravo who has quite often been the game changer for them. Their bowling attack is seasoned but has often been laid bare in recent games.
Mumbai Indians have had a customary slow start, but things are starting to fall in place for them as they stare into the business end of IPL. In fact, it is the strongest team overall, on paper, at this stage.
*All the numbers are on a scale of 10, 0 being the weakest and 10 being the strongest (Updated till the 33rd match of IPL 2016).
Delhi Daredevils have been the real dark horses this season. Employing the horses for courses strategy has worked effectively and despite their lack of experience, they've managed to click as a unit. Led inspirationally by Zaheer Khan, the Daredevils have built themselves up as serious contenders for the title.
Kolkata Knight Riders are a well-oiled unit who have ‘been there, done that’ a lot many times. Spoilt for choice, KKR have a daunting first XI as well as the sort of bench strength which other sides envy. Their big hitters are in hot form and unless something drastic happens, KKR should ideally finish in the Top 2.
Sunrisers Hyderabad can thank their skipper David Warner for literally carrying them on his shoulders. He has been supported superbly by the talismanic Bangladeshi Mustafizur Rehman, with others contributing very little. Their recent form has been excellent but would want their batsmen to take more responsibility. Yuvraj's addition, though, betters the balance of the team.
MS Dhoni has just not found the winning formula with Rising Pune Supergiants. Worse, he’ll no longer have the services of his four key foreign recruits (Pietersen, du Plessis, M Marsh, and Smith). Except for the consistent Ajinkya Rahane, there is very little to speak of here and their current standing reflects just that. Badly in want of an X-Factor, they've roped in Usman Khawaja, but worries in the finishing remain, both on batting and bowling front.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s story remains unaltered, year after year. Their astoundingly strong batting attack continues to consistently post monumental totals only for their bowlers to gift the same in wholesale. In the absence of Mitchell Starc and Samuel Badree, their bowling's been unreliable and Kohli's poor luck with tosses hasn't helped.
Kings XI Punjab are weak on paper, and the story is no different on the field. Sting-less bowlers when combined with woefully out-of-form hitters (Miller and Maxwell) means a recipe for failure and KXIP unsurprisingly have been unwatchably poor. Only time will tell whether a new captain in Murali Vijay will turn things around for them.
Stats by: Karan Yajnik