There have been 41 games so far in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League and we’ve been treated to some magnificent, and some awful, cricket. The table is beginning to take shape and we’re getting a clearer picture as to the sides that are looking likely to make the top four.
Perhaps the biggest surprise so far has been the performances of defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders and last year’s final four qualifiers Delhi Daredevils. Delhi are cast adrift with Pune Warriors at the foot of the nine team table with only four points from nine games, whilst Kolkata are only two points better off. They have slumped a long way from the side that lifted the trophy in Chennai 12 months ago.
Last year’s defeated finalists and the IPL’s most decorated franchise, Chennai Super Kings, continue to set the pace with 14 points from their nine fixtures. Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals are hot on their heels with 12 points each.
Add to that group Sunrisers Hyderabad on 10 points and it looks very much as though those will be the five franchises in contention for the four knock-out spots. Kings XI Punjab lurk just behind them on eight, but it would a huge surprise were they to make the top four.
On the player front there are some familiar faces topping the run scoring and wicket taking charts. The biggest story of IPL 6, so far at least, has without doubt been one Christopher Henry Gayle. If you missed it, he hit a rather brisk 175* for RCB against Pune the other week…
Of all the centuries that have been scored in senior men’s cricket, none has been quicker than Gayle’s 30 ball effort. After 66 balls he had closed on 175* comprising 17 sixes and only 13 fours, RCB were closed on 263/5, the biggest team score in T20 history.
It was quite the afternoon and has powered Gayle to the top of the scoring charts with 484 runs at a scarcely credible strike rate of 166.89 – not bad for an opener.
Old hand Michael Hussey is offer Gayle the most competition for ownership of the orange cap (awarded to the top run scorer in the IPL) with 445 runs for CSK. Virat Kohli lies in third, some way behind on 366 runs.
Of the fellas charged with supplying the deliveries that are to be tonked several rows back, young Australian all-rounder James Faulkner is currently topping the charts with 16 wickets from seven appearances for Rajasthan. His form has caught the eye of the Australian selectors and the Tasmanian has been given the nod to tour England this summer.
The Australian First Class system clearly isn’t producing players of Test match quality, so why not rely on the IPL?
Faulkner is closely followed by last season’s top bowler, Sunil Narine, on 15 wickets. Dwayne Bravo and Vinay Kumar join him.
Moments like Chris Gayle’s innings are what make the IPL worth watching and his pyrotechnics were a huge fillip to the tournament. There has been some outstanding fielding, too, and Dwayne Bravo leads the way with 10 catches.
Hopefully Hyderabad can stick in there and challenge for a top four spot to keep the intrigue alive before the knock out stages commence. It seems shocking, but the defending champions are highly unlikely to feature in the final reckoning.
The IPL title will change hands once again. We predicted RCB ( http://www.thecricketblog.com/ipl-6-preview-and-prediction-part-two/) to claim their first title and with Gayle in the ranks, who wants to rule that out?
By Miles Reucroft
all stats correct as of close of play, April 29