The Indian Premier League has reached its midway stage with Faf du Plessis firing on all cylinders with the bat for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rinku Singh achieving a miracle in one of the greatest finishes of all time and MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings top of the table, captivating their fans everywhere they go.

Points table at the half-way stage

1 CSK 7 5 2 0.662 10
2 GT 7 5 2 0.580 10
3 RR 7 4 3 0.844 8
4 LSG 7 4 3 0.547 8
5 RCB 7 4 3 -0.008 8
6 PBKS 7 4 3 -0.162 8
7 MI 7 3 4 -0.620 6
8 KKR 7 2 5 -0.186 4
9 SRH 7 2 5 -0.725 4
10 DC 7 2 5 -0.961 4

Batting charts

RCB’s Faf du Plessis has lit up the competition for Royal Challengers Bangalore with a barrage of boundaries including one 115-metre (380-foot) missile into the stands.

The South African veteran tops the batting chart with 405 runs in seven matches, including five half-centuries, and has gelled with fellow opener Virat Kohli with two century stands.

Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, also at Bangalore, has similarly been no slouch in the powerhitting stakes with 23 sixes behind Du Plessis’ 25 – the only two to go above 20.

For Chennai, India’s normally more sedate Ajinkya Rahane has been a revelation with a strike rate of over 199 in five matches, including an atomic 71 not out off just 29 balls.

The top-order batsman has earned a recall to India’s Test squad.

Top run-scorers

Player Inns Runs HS SR
Faf Du Plessis (RCB) 7 405 84 165.30
Devon Conway (CSK0 7 314 83 143.37
David Warner (DC) 7 306 65 119.53
Shubman Gill (GT) 7 284 67 142.71
Virat Kohli (RCB) 7 279 82* 141.62
Ruturaj Gaikwad (CSK) 7 270 92 147.54
K L Rahul (LSG) 7 262 74 113.91
Venkatesh Iyer (KKR) 7 254 104 159.74
Glenn Maxwell (RCB) 7 253 77 188.80
Jos Buttler (RR) 7 244 79 145.23

Bowling charts

Is Yuzvendra Chahal going to be the all-time wicket-taker of IPL soon? All signs point toward that. With 12 wickets in the first half of the season, he is well on his way to overtake Dwayne Bravo’s tally of 183 wickets. Chahal has now moved up to 178. Couple of fellow wristies, Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla too could soon be making moves as the former is level with Lasith Malinga for the third spot (170) while the latter is just two behind (168). That is a chart to keep an eye on in the second half.

As for this season’s purple cap race, it is a close one with the lead changing head frequently. Rashid Khan has been superb for Gujarat Titans (even if a touch expensive) while Mohammed Siraj has been setting the tone for RCB in the powerplay.

Top wicket-takers

Player Inns Wkts Best Econ SR
Rashid Khan (GT) 7 14 31/3 8.07 12.00
Mohammed Siraj (RCB) 7 13 21/4 7.17 12.92
Arshdeep Singh (PBKS) 7 13 29/4 8.16 11.53
Yuzvendra Chahal (RR) 7 12 17/4 8.07 14.00
Tushar Deshpande (CSK) 7 12 45/3 10.97 12.66
Piyush Chawla (MI) 7 11 22/3 7.11 14.72
Mark Wood (LSG) 4 11 14/5 8.12 8.72
Ravindra Jadeja (CSK) 7 10 20/3 7.33 14.40
Mohammad Shami (GT)  7 10 25/3 7.51 16.20
Varun CV  (KKR) 7 10 15/4 8.25 15.40

Epic finishes

Rinku Singh became an overnight sensation with an incredible five sixes in the last five balls of Kolkata Knight Riders’ against-the-odds chase against a stunned Gujarat Titans.

The never-seen-before blitz, which conjured memories of the four sixes by West Indies batsman Carlos Brathwaite in the 2016 T20 World Cup final off Ben Stokes, is the highlight of this IPL so far.

A son of a hawker, left-hander Rinku has risen from humble beginnings to IPL fame after being picked by two-time champions Kolkata for $97,000 in the 2018 auction.

Teammate Venkatesh Iyer called him “Lord Rinku” after the match-winning unbeaten 21-ball 48 and the 25-year-old followed up his performance with two half-centuries in the next four matches even though KKR have struggled to put together wins.

There was a stretch of games from this finish where the matches went till the last ball with all results possible, making for an exciting phase in the tournament. But nothing might well match Rinku’s fireworks for the rest of the league phase.

Big-money signings have a mixed bag

Punjab made history by picking Sam Curran as the most expensive IPL player for $2.23 million and the all-rounder has delivered with some stellar performances including a match-winning 55 on Saturday.

England’s white-ball wizard has also led Punjab in three matches – two wins and a loss – in the absence of injured skipper Shikhar Dhawan.

Australia’s Cameron Green overcame some ordinary scores to hit 64 off 40 balls and took a wicket with his pace bowling for Mumbai Indians last week.

Exciting England batsman Harry Brook lit up the IPL with the first century of the season to set up a big win for Hyderabad, who bought the gifted 24-year-old for $1.6 million. But otherwise, the consistency has been missing.

For CSK, Ben Stokes has largely been a bystander so far despite some pre-season expectations that he could turn out to be a possible future captain for the franchise. Nursing an injury, Stokes hasn’t featured since CSK’s second match.

Delhi’s struggles

Delhi Capitals have now registered two successive victories but after five losses Ricky Ponting’s men remain bottom of the 10-team pile without injured talisman Rishabh Pant.

Skipper David Warner has been among the runs but admitted his struggles with a relatively poor strike rate of 120, well behind the likes of Du Plessis on 165.

After a scrappy first win, Delhi edged Sunrisers Hyderabad in their latest triumph and Warner remains hopeful of making it three in a row in his team’s bid for a first IPL title.

CSK, GT seem to be teams to beat

While home advantage hasn’t been too pronounced so far in the IPL, Chennai Super Kings have managed to maintain the tradition somewhat, losing only once in Chepauk so far against a strong RR side.

That, once again, has helped them in the early stages to set the pace on the points table that is rather crowded at the moment. With six teams at the top separated by just two points, and the bottom four not entirely out of the picture, the second half promises to be close. However, the likes of SRH, DC and KKR have to pick up their game soon or they could get left behind.

For the record five-time champions, things haven’t been working out too well. Perennial slow-starters, Rohit Sharma and Co began with two defeats but showed some signs of coming out of it with three straight wins. But that has once again been followed by two defeats. Consistency has been an issue across the board for MI, right from batting at the top of the order to death bowling and even selections. Jofra Archer has been in and out and yet to hit full flow, and their search for answers to issues that has plagued them in the last couple of seasons continue. Can Rohit turn this around for MI, personally with the bat as well as the captain?

As things stand, form-book suggests that CSK and GT are frontrunners for the top two spots. And while RR have hit a mini-slump after setting the pace early, they too appear strong enough to be in the top four. Those three have a strong case to be playoff contenders. Who will be the fourth?

Form guide

POS TEAM FORM (Latest first)

With AFP text inputs