We are in the third week of the IPL and now it is clear which teams will be in the top 4 of the IPL.
According to me, these are the teams which will be in top 4 and qualify for playoffs in this year’s IPL.
i) Chennai Super Kings– At the moment, CSK is in the top of the table with 10 points. They have returned to the IPL with a bang and are my favorites to win the IPL this season.
The biggest strength of CSK is their batting. In each of the 6 games, they have found their match winners be it Dwayne Bravo against Mumbai Indians, Sam Billings against KKR or Shane Watson against Rajasthan Royals. So far, Ambati Rayudu has been their most impressive player with the bat. Rayudu, over the years, was considered as a great talent who was not able to utilize it in a big stage, but this year he has been the unsung hero of CSK. With the ball, Dwayne Bravo has been their best bowler, especially in the death. MSD has so far used his bowlers quite well, He has used Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur in the power plays which worked against SRH and Rajasthan Royals.
The weakness of CSK – I feel their spinners have not performed well so far in the IPL. Tahir did bowl well in his final over against RCB but other than that he has gone for plenty in the middle overs. I feel MS Dhoni has under bowled Jadeja.
ii) Kings XI Punjab– Without the doubt, Kings XI Punjab has been performing quite well in the IPL. R Ashwin’s captaincy has been spot on so far in the IPL and this team has enough match-winners to not only qualify but to win the IPL. So far, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have given them flying starts at the top. Also, Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal have been doing their jobs quite well in middle order.
Biggest Strength of Punjab has been the form of their openers and Bowling. So far KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have given them the flying start in almost every game. KL Rahul has so far amassed 268 runs from 7 games at the strike rate of 170 and Chris Gayle, who was picked by the franchise in the last moment, has proved why he is called the Universal Boss. Also, Kings XI, Punjab has improved their bowling from last year’s IPL. R Ashwin has so far marshaled his resources well. Ankit Rajpoot, Barinder Iran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and he himself has been quite good in the opening and middle overs whereas Andrew Tye has been decent in the middle overs.
The weakness of KXIP– Their big players like Yuvraj Singh and Aaron Finch has to step up in big games. Both Finch and Yuvraj are match winners on the given day but so far they have underperforming which is a worry especially when the lower order of Punjab is not that great. I still feel both the players should be given the opportunity in remaining games.
iii) Sunrisers Hyderabad– I feel Sunrisers Hyderabad will be the third team to qualify for the playoffs. Despite the absence of their regular captain David Warner, Kane Williamson’s team has done quite well in the IPL so far.
Biggest Strength of SRH- SRH has one of the best bowling attacks in the IPL. Each and every bowler of SRH are match winners in the ownership rights. Despite the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in last two matches, SRH bowlers stood by and defended the small totals of 118 and 132 against powerful Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab batting. Their biggest match winner has been Rashid Khan who with leg spin has troubled the best batsman. Also, their biggest unsung hero has been Siddharth Kaul, who has quietly established himself as a death over specialist.
The weakness of SRH is their batting. so far, they are too dependent on Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson. The biggest worry of SRH is that if their bowlers fail, then they don’t have the batters who can chase a big total. Yes, they have Manish Pandey, Shakib, Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda but they need a match winner in the middle with the bat who can turn the game. I think they should bring Alex Hales in place of Nabi in coming games as they have enough bowlers.
iv) This is where it gets tough, as any of the remaining teams can come up. Despite having a bad run, still, teams like Mumbai Indians, Royal Challenger Bengaluru, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals can qualify. If I had to pick one team, I would go for Kolkata Knight Riders. As they are much better with the bat and also has World Class Spinners.