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IPL 2019 mid-season review: where the teams stand and what they need to do

MS Dhoni leads Chennai Super Kings onto the field BCCI

Halfway through IPL 2019, how have the eight teams fared? What are their biggest strengths, and what potential strategy changes can they employ to make up for their weaknesses? Here's an analysis.

Note: All stats and numbers updated till Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore match on April 15.

Chennai Super Kings: 14 points

Making the best use of home conditions, Super Kings have started the season at an all-time high, winning seven of their eight matches. Last year, their batsmen had to make up for the bowlers in batting-friendly conditions in Pune (their home games were moved out of Chennai). This season, it has been the bowlers that have made up for the batsmen's shortcomings in spin-friendly conditions at Chepauk, on a pitch that has been criticised by many including captain MS Dhoni. What has not changed is Super Kings having multiple match-winners, which has once again made the defending champions strong favourites in the title race.

Impact performers

  • MS Dhoni - 230 runs at an average of 76.66 and a strike rate of 127.07

  • Imran Tahir- 13 wickets at an economy rate of 5.76 and a strike rate of 13.8

  • Harbhajan Singh- 7 wickets at an economy rate of 5.12 and a strike rate of 13.7

  • Deepak Chahar- 10 wickets at an economy rate of 6.64 and a strike rate of 18.6

Where can they improve?
Super Kings' batting has the highest dot-ball percentage and the poorest balls-per-boundary figure in this IPL. They also have the lowest average (18.68) and the lowest run rate (6.22) in the Powerplay. Shane Watson has been weak in the first half and the team needs good starts from him.

Death bowling also remains a concern, with Super Kings having three of the top five most expensive death bowlers since IPL 2018.

Potential strategy change

Dhoni doesn't like to tinker with the playing XI. Still, Sam Billings for Watson might be something to try out.

Availability: All overseas players are available

Delhi Capitals: 10 points

A change in name has resulted in a change in their game. Capitals have made a sound start to the season, and are well-placed to claim a spot in the playoffs. A vibrant and young squad, consistency in selection and team effort are the ingredients that let them recover from a shaky first few matches. This is also a team with many match-winners, and one of their big strengths has been death bowling. It's the best in the competition so far, with 25 wickets at the death at an economy rate of 8.43 and an average of 9.56.

Impact performers

  • Kagiso Rabada - 17 wickets at an economy rate of 7.70 and a strike rate of 10.9

  • Shreyas Iyer - 266 runs at an average of 33.25 and a strike rate of 120.36

Where can they improve?
While batting in the Powerplay, they have lost 12 wickets with an average of 31.58 - the second lowest in the league. Shikhar Dhawan couldn't get going at the start of the season, before hitting 97 not out against Kolkata Knight Riders, but he and Prithvi Shaw will have to provide more consistent and rapid starts at the business end of IPL 2019.

Potential strategy change
Who among Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia and Amit Mishra are likely to play the high-pressure games is something the team should look to answer in the next six games.

Availability: All overseas players are available.

Mumbai Indians: 10 points

Mumbai have won five of their first eight games, a change from their usual slow starts. And this is despite stars like Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya not making a big impact yet, and the team scoring well below par on at least three occasions.

Impact performers

  • Kieron Pollard - 185 runs at an average of 37.00 and a strike rate of 177.88

  • Hardik Pandya- 186 runs at an average of 46.50 and a strike rate of 191.75

  • Jasprit Bumrah - 8 wickets at an economy rate of 6.81 and a strike rate of 23.0

Where can they improve?
Mumbai's batting average in the middle overs (7-16) is just 23, and they have lost 27 wickets in that period - the most for any team in the league.

The bowling of the Pandya brothers has also been below par so far: Hardik has gone at 9.91 runs per over, while Krunal has taken just five wickets while conceding runs at 8.28 per over.

Potential strategy change
Perhaps Hardik and Pollard could be split to ensure that there is a run-rate acceleration in the middle overs too. Krunal, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav can float according to the situation.

Another possible change is getting Bumrah to bowl more in the Powerplay. Right now, the overseas options of Lasith Malinga, Jason Behrendorff and Alzarri Joseph (before he was injured) have done the bulk of the bowling in the first six overs. Mumbai could get Bumrah to bowl a couple of overs and target early wickets, while Hardik can bowl in the middle overs.

Availability: Jason Behrendorff will leave after May 1.

Kolkata Knight Riders: 8 points

This has been a strange first half for Knight Riders. Having got off the blocks with four wins early on courtesy Andre Russell's all-round brilliance, Dinesh Karthik's team has now lost three consecutive matches. Historically, Knight Riders have dominated at home, but this year they have lost two of the three games played at Eden Gardens. Their top order has failed consistently with Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana being patchy. Karthik, too, is yet to make an impactful score.

Impact performers

  • Andre Russell - 312 runs at an average of 78.00 and a strike rate of 213.69

Where can they improve?
Knight Riders have depended on three spinners for a long time, but this season they have not delivered. Has the team become a bit too predictable with plans and personnel? The spinners average 39.11 and have an economy rate of 7.93 this season, the joint second-worst on both counts.

Potential strategy change
Break the Narine-Chris Lynn opening combination and let Uthappa, or even Shubman Gill, bat at the top.

Availability: All overseas players are available.

Kings XI Punjab: 8 points

With four wins and four losses, Kings XI have their task cut out in the remaining six games, but they remain in contention for a final-four spot. They have wonone match which they should not have, and lost two that they should have won. The loss against Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium could come back to haunt them, as they would have had five wins at the halfway mark if they had pulled through.

Impact performers

  • R Ashwin - 9 wickets at an economy rate of 7.62 and a strike rate of 21.3

  • Chris Gayle - 322 runs at an average of 53.66 and a strike rate of 157.07

  • KL Rahul - 355 runs at an average of 67.00 and a strike rate of 130.85

Where can they improve?
Gayle and Rahul have contributed 50% of the team's runs, but the middle order has failed to capitalise on the starts. In the middle overs, Kings XI have slowed down, resulting in under-par totals.

Potential strategy change
Including Moises Henriques not only provides balance to the batting order, but also provides a sixth bowling option. Also, Mujeeb Ur Rahman needs to play the remaining matches because he can tie up an end as well as take wickets with his mystery spin.

Availability: All overseas players are available.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 6 points

Last year's runners-up, Sunrisers have been disappointing mainly due to the failure of their usually strong bowling attack and a near non-existent middle order. If Sunrisers are afloat, the credit goes to the overseas opening pair of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. They have not only provided explosive starts, but also gone on to bat deep. But with both men expected to leave for their teams' World Cup preparations, Sunrisers need to get their batting sorted if they want to advance to the playoffs.

Impact performers

  • David Warner - 400 runs at an average of 80.00 and a strike rate of 140.35

  • Jonny Bairstow - 304 runs at an average of 43.42 and a strike rate of 156.70

  • Rashid Khan - 6 wickets at an economy rate of 5.78 and a strike rate of 28.00

  • Mohammad Nabi - 7 wickets at an economy rate of 5.49 and a strike rate of 13.5

Where can they improve?
If last year the team was dependent on Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson for runs, this year they have been heavily reliant on Warner and Bairstow. The two have scored 66% of their team's runs. Meanwhile, Nos. 4 to 11 average just 12.75 and score at a run rate of 6.83, which is the lowest in this IPL.

Potential strategy change
A slightly radical suggestion: Williamson could open with Bairstow while Warner drops one slot, just to ensure at least one of the three main batsmen stays till the end.

Availability: Shakib Al Hasan could leave for national duty around the start of May. Bairstow and Warner likely to leave on April 25 and May 1 respectively.

Rajasthan Royals: 4 points

Royals are not in the pink of health. The team, which has changed its colours to a bright pink, is precariously placed with just two wins and five losses. Mistakes from last season have not been rectified, with Royals carrying four potential openers in the top seven, and certain players in key positions performing similar roles. In a tournament where early momentum is key to a playoff spot, Royals are still figuring out their best XI, and their dependence on Jos Buttler is hurting them. Last season, Buttler single-handedly took them to the playoffs, but Royals are likely to lose his services soon this year.

Impact performers

  • Jos Buttler - 288 runs at an average of 41.14 and a strike rate of 153.19

  • Shreyas Gopal - 8 wickets at an economy rate of 6.41 and a strike rate of 18

  • Jofra Archer - 7 wickets at an economy rate of 7.22 and a strike rate of 23.1

Where can they improve?
In the last four overs, Royals' economy rate is 12.17 - the worst this IPL. Additionally, they have taken only eight wickets in the death overs. Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat and Ben Stokes have gone at 18.50, 16.00 and 12.8 respectively in the last four.

Potential strategy change
Include the likes of Ashton Turner and Oshane Thomas ahead of Steven Smith and Stokes to improve the middle-overs batting and death bowling. Look to open with Rahul Tripathi to plan for Buttler's departure.

Availability: Buttler and Stokes will be available only till April 25, as will Archer if he is selected in England's World Cup squad (the announcement is due on Wednesday). Smith is expected to leave by May 1.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 2 points

Royal Challengers' campaign has almost ground to a halt at the halfway stage. Just one win with six games left means a playoff spot is highly improbable. Their dependence on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers has not changed. In their only win this season, in Mohali against Kings XI, Kohli and de Villiers made fifties in the chase. The matches they came close to winning were also due to the performances of these two.

Impact performers

  • Virat Kohli - 278 runs at an average of 34.75 and a strike rate of 124.66

  • AB de Villiers - 307 runs at an average of 51.16 and a strike rate of 154.27

  • Yuzvendra Chahal - 11 wickets at an economy rate of 7.07 and a strike rate of 15.2

Where can they improve?
The bowling needs to improve in key phases of the match - in the Powerplay and at the death. In the first six overs, Royal Challengers have taken only three wickets at an average of 140.33 and an economy rate of 8.77. In the last four overs, their economy rate is 11.50.

Potential strategy change
With the return of Dale Steyn, Royal Challengers would be hoping that their Powerplay and death-overs performances improve. The franchise paid big money for Mumbai's batting allrounder Shivam Dube, who needs to be given more games to build his confidence.

Availability: Moeen Ali is available till April 25 if he is picked in England's World Cup squad, and Marcus Stoinis is expected to leave by May 1.