IPL 2019 has moved beyond the halfway mark but there are still plenty of teams in contention for the trophy.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore may be facing an uphill battle to make the play-offs, but even they have not been ruled out of the running after scoring their first win at seven attempts over the weekend.
Fellow basement-dwellers the Rajasthan Royals also picked up a victory on Saturday, chasing down a target of 188 with three balls to spare to see off the Mumbai Indians.
Monday 15 April
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (16:30)
Mumbai Indians 72/100
Royal Challengers Bangalore 23/20
RCB rocked up in Mumbai boosted by their first win of the tournament and the arrival of Proteas seamer Dale Steyn, who replaces the injured Nathan Coulter-Nile. The seamer was injured on Australia duty before he was set to join the franchise this week.
Despite suffering a home defeat over the weekend, the Indians are still up there with the teams fighting it out for play-off glory.
Quinton de Kock finally came good for Mumbai with a quickfire 81 off 52 balls in the losing cause against the Royals. That knock put the South Africa wicketkeeper at the top of the franchise’s run-scorers this season.
AB de Villiers fired RCB to their first win with another superb 50 – his third in seven outings and could be their key batsman.
After an indifferent start, Jasprit Bumrah has started to find his rhythm with the ball and his impending clash with Virat Kohli and de Villiers is a thrilling prospect.
Verdict: RCB to start a mini-run of wins with another triumph.
Tuesday 16 April
IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali (16:30)
Kings XI Punjab 67/100
Rajasthan Royals 5/4
The Rajasthan Royals turn up in Mohali to face the Kings XI Punjab after putting a two-game losing streak behind them.
English star Jos Buttler was at the centre of a phenomenal chase at the Wankhede and will be marked as the biggest threat in the pink of the Royals.
The Kings XI’s lynchpins at the top of the order – Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul – are in ominous form, backed up by the Proteas’ David Miller.
Mohammed Shami has shown his T20 chops are nothing to be scoffed at this term, but the Kings XI will be striving for more quality with the ball from their attack as a whole.
The Kings XI have lost two on the bounce heading into this clash and their fans will be concerned that another IPL challenge might be fading away.
Verdict: Kings XI to stop the rot.
Wednesday 17 April
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad (16:30)
Sunrisers Hyderabad 21/20
Chennai Super Kings 82/100
The clash between the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Chennai Super Kings is shaping up to be the highlight of the midweek IPL programme.
The Sunrisers have been superb at times during the 2019 IPL campaign, led by resurgent Australia bad boy David Warner – and a win over the pace-setting Chennai Super Kings will cement them as title contenders.
CSK are currently most people’s favourite to win the tournament after a confident start, but they will need to be wary of potential banana skins like the visit to Southern India to face the Sunrisers.
Last season it was the bowlers who carried the Sunrisers challenge, while this year the potent opening pairing of Warner and Jonny Bairstow has them well set for a big push in the second half of the season.
CSK have proven to be the bowling experts in the 2019 IPL, led by India seamer Deepak Chahar and veteran Proteas tweaker Imran Tahir, who have claimed 19 wickets between them in CSK’s first seven games.
Verdict: The Sunrisers to sting CSK with an upset win.
Thursday 18 April
Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi (16:30)
While Kagiso Rabada has been excellent for the Delhi Capitals, the newly-renamed franchise are struggling to overcome the same issues that faced them under the Daredevils moniker. The Capitals have come up short at crucial times, but remain in contention for honours.
The Mumbai Indians have just a couple of days to turn around from their clash with the Royals, before heading north to visit the nation’s capital for a clash that could be considered a four-pointer with the IPL mid-table really congested.
A lack of runs has been the problem for the Capitals, who will look to India rising stars Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant to reverse their fortunes with the willow.
The Mumbai franchise are in action twice this week, presenting them with two opportunities to set the most successful IPL franchise back on the path to glory.
The Capitals have won just one game at their home ground this season – and that victory was in a super over, after they somehow conspired to end level with the Knight Riders after 20 overs.
Verdict: Mumbai Indians to display their overall quality and triumph.
Written by @JonhenryWilson