Source - sify.com
The Royal Challengers of Bangalore and the Deccan Chargers are pretty much out of this year's DLF Indian Premier League, but they are perfectly capable of spoiling someone else's party.
There are five teams vying for three places in the semi-finals and they will be hoping that the Chargers and the Challengers will continue to play as badly and not cause an upset. The Rajasthan Royals are already in the semis, but they will want to maintain the winning rhythm.
What they can do is to try some of the players who haven't played so far or give a bit of a break to some of their bowlers since it is hot and there is every likelihood of them picking an injury in these conditions. So it may make sense for them to be careful with the bowlers and keep them fresh for the semis and beyond.
As for the Mumbai Indians, they might have won six consecutive games, but it only becomes tougher for them as they are set to play two of their competitors for a place in the semi-finals after which they have to play the Rajasthan Royals. So they have a hard grind ahead of them, but the manner in which they have responded has been brilliant.
They will no doubt miss the services of Dwayne Bravo, who made such a massive contribution as soon as he joined the team. He lifted the team with his fielding and his energetic batting and bowling, giving the Mumbai Indians options and flexibility. It won’t be easy to fill his shoes, for all-rounders of his class are not easily available in international cricket.
The big plus for them is the return to destructive form of Sanath Jayasuriya. He has batted quite superbly in the last few games and if he gets the team off to a flying start again then the Mumbai Indians can put up a challenging total on board. The bowling of Pollock also has been a big factor as he has not allowed the opposition to get a good start. And don't forget Tendulkar hasn't fired as yet with either bat or ball. So they have a big chance of getting into the semis.
The other teams fighting for a place in the semis are the Chennai Super Kings, the Kings XI Punjab, the Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knightriders. They are going to be up against good teams and so will have to be at their best to move ahead. It is their inconsistency that will worry their supporters, for they have some fine players, but not all of them have clicked and they cannot afford to have that going into the final leg of the tournament.
Yuvraj needs to replicate his form from the ICC World Twenty20 and while Gambhir has been aggressive and consistency personified, the same cannot be said of his skipper Sehwag, who can demolish any attack but is getting out even before the main course is served. He batted splendidly against the Challengers and could well be getting back to his destructive best.
If the Mumbai Indians beat the Kings XI Punjab that will put the latter under tremendous pressure, for they will have to win their remaining games to have a chance to qualify for the semis.
Despite two teams being out of the reckoning, the DLF Indian Premier League has reached a nail-biting stage, where the supporters will egg their favourite teams on towards the knockout stage.