At the halfway stage of the IPL, with all teams having played seven games each, ESPNcricinfo takes a look at seven players who have been among the key performers for their respective teams. A couple of them weren't even meant to be in the tournament, some weren't expected to be part of the starting XI, and yet they have been impact players.

Washington Sundar
Royal Challengers Bangalore - five wickets, economy 4.90

Among those to bowl at least eight overs in the powerplay this season, Washington is the only one not to be hit for a single six. Washington also has the best economy rate (4.54) in that period, and overall, he has conceded 108 runs in 132 balls. According to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, though, those 108 runs drop to 43.33 Smart Runs in all. His Smart Economy is a ridiculous 1.97, much lower than Rashid Khan (2.91).

As a fingerspinner, Washington earned his stripes at the Rising Pune Supergiant, where he bowled with the new ball. The Royal Challengers have finally recognised that strength and handed him that role again, making him one of the pillars of their success so far.

Marcus Stoinis
Delhi Capitals - 175 runs, strike rate 175, six wickets

Among those who bat at No. 5 or lower, Stoinis, who moved from the Royal Challengers to the Capitals this season, is behind only Rahul Tewatia (189) for in the runs tally with 175, but when seen from the lens of Smart Stats, his runs have come at a Smart Strike Rate of 213.9, behind only Kieron Pollard (224.7) and AB de Villiers (221.52) among those who have scored 50 or more runs.

Stoinis' good run has coincided with wins for the Capitals: a 21-ball 53 and two wickets in the 20th over dragged them to a Super Over against the Kings XI Punjab, which ended in their favour; another 26-ball 53* against the Royal Challengers set up a comfortable win; and his 30-ball 39 and two wickets against the Rajasthan Royals has kept them among the top two teams of IPL 2020 at the halfway stage.

Anrich Nortje
Delhi Capitals - eight wickets, economy 7.21

Every hero needs a sidekick, and Kagiso Rabada has Nortje as his Robin. The South African quick missed out on IPL 2019 for the Kolkata Knight Riders because of an injury, but this season he has shown his worth, owning both his roles in the powerplay and at the death. His pace clocks up more than Rabada's very often, and with his partner often saved for the death, Nortje's spell in the first six has set the tone for the Capitals.

Nortje's powerplay economy of 6.46 is fantastic, and his short balls force most batsmen to duck instead of offering a shot. He has a mean yorker too, with an economy of just 2.40 when he fires those in. In short, Nortje has, in some metrics, been better than Rabada. His Smart Economy (6.8 compared to 7.02) and Smart Runs conceded (189.32 compared to 194.11) is better than his fellow South African too.

T Natarajan
Sunrisers Hyderabad - seven wickets, economy 7.97

You might never have predicted that Natarajan, the left-arm quick from Salem in Tamil Nadu, would be the yorker specialist he has turned out to be. At the halfway mark, Natarajan has delivered 27 yorkers, ten more than Jasprit Bumrah. Using the left-armer's angle, he has executed the wide yorker as well as the toe-crusher well. Remarkably, his economy of 6.22 when using the yorker is much better than Bumrah's 8.22.

Natarajan has not let the Sunrisers feel the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, especially in the death overs. In his 47 deliveries between overs 17 and 20, Natarajan has an economy of 11.10, which is better than the celebrated trio of Bumrah, Jofra Archer and Pat Cummins.

Rahul Tewatia
Rajasthan Royals - 189 runs, strike rate 152.41, five wickets

The biggest surprise of them all, Tewatia has the most runs from No. 5 or lower this season, and that means he's been forced to bat more than the Royals would have liked - a result of top-order collapses. He's got them out of improbable situations at least twice, for two wins in which he played starring roles, and both with the skill that he was less renowned for.

His 31-ball 53 - after being at 8 in 19 balls - against the Kings XI broke the internet, making him a household name overnight. Tewatia proved it was no fluke in his unbeaten 45 against the Sunrisers, which rescued the Royals from a precarious 78 for 5 to chase down 159. That included three consecutive fours off Rashid Khan, showing that Tewatia did not really care about reputations. Tewatia, primarily known for his legspin, was traded by the Capitals to the Royals in exchange for Ajinkya Rahane. With the ball, too, Tewatia has chipped in, with five wickets.

James Pattinson
Mumbai Indians - nine wickets, strike rate 17.4

Filling in for Lasith Malinga is no mean feat. But Pattinson has done exactly that, grabbing the opportunity that cropped up after Nathan Coulter-Nile's injury with both hands.

Part of a trio of fast bowlers that have pushed the Mumbai Indians to the top of the points table after seven games, Pattinson has bowled hard lengths to earn his rewards in the form of nine wickets. In isolation, an economy of 8.25 would not impress, but when you see that he has gone for only 9.12 per over at the death - numbers much better than Trent Boult and Bumrah - Pattinson's worth only rises.

Axar Patel
Delhi Capitals - six wickets, economy 5.05

For a man who was dropped from the Capitals side after two matches, the comeback for Patel - in the aftermath of Amit Mishra's tournament-ending injury - has been exceptional. He hasn't had a single match economy of over six, and has also owned the powerplay overs in such a manner that the team has been able to hold Rabada back for the death with ease.

His left-arm spin, together with a high release, has not allowed batsmen to get on top of him, and he has conceded just six fours in his 112 deliveries. According to Smart Stats, the 93 runs he has conceded have effectively come at a Smart Economy of 3.37, which is only behind Washington Sundar (1.97) and Rashid Khan (2.91) among spinners.