Race to the top turns interesting with all eight teams still in hunt
The Season 11 of the Indian Premier League is racing towards the business end of the tournament and the eight franchises are still battling it out for the top four spots.
Finishing among top four is the priority for the teams, but there are no clear frontrunners as yet, though franchises like Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab are showing intent to make the grade.
However, nothing is assured and the table is wide open especially after CSK's defeat to KKR at the Eden Gardens on Thursday and Kings XI Punjab's loss to Mumbai Indians on Friday.
CSK was pushed to being No. 2 and Sunrisers Hyderabad gained the top position on better run rate.
Mumbai Indians also made a giant leap from the bottom of the table to the fifth position after beating Punjab at Indore.
These changes are an indication that fortunes of teams can change dramatically and every team will look to win every match from now on.
Delhi Daredevils (DD) was discarded by critics after their defeat to CSK in Pune, but after a win over Rajasthan Royals (RR) they are still alive.
Mumbai Indians (MI) have also bounced back to life with the Friday's win and will be hosting Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.
The two others -- Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) -- can also squeeze into the top four, if they manage a healthy win percentage.
As of now, all teams in fray have the chance to make the knock-outs. However, the present toppers (top four) can keep their spots intact if they do not fumble in their remaining matches.
Interesting has been the battle for orange cap (top run getter) and purple cap (highest wicket taker) as there is no clear front runner here too.
The caps have changed heads frequently and a clear leader will emerge only after the league phase.
Same has been the case of big hitters. Chris Gayle has topped the list of batsmen who have scored the maximum of maximums so far. Gayle has struck 25 sixes from five matches, one ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has 24 sixes from 9 matches.
The others in the list are AB de Villiers and Andre Russell (23 sixes each) and Shane Watson (21).
The season, however, has only two ton makers in Gayle and Watson and more in this list may be hard to come.
The coming days will be as scorching as the heat of summer but expect cricket to be at its best.
(The author is the former Sports Editor of Times of Oman and a freelance writer.)