We're just past the halfway mark of what is shaping up to be a most interesting season of the IPL: AB de Villiers at No. 6! A fifty for Gayle in his first game! A captaincy swap! How have the teams done so far and what do they have to do to make the playoffs? ESPNcricinfo takes stock. Elsewhere, an England tour to Pakistan is taking form, Australia's two-team strategy is making coach Justin Langer most unhappy, and we're edging closer to the definitive ball of the century. All this and more in this week's catch-up.

Karthik "hands over" KKR captaincy to Morgan
Dinesh Karthik stepped down from his position at the Kolkata Knight Riders saying he wants to focus on his batting; the franchise called it a "role swap". Eoin Morgan has taken over the role.

Misbah-ul-Haq to quit Pakistan chief selector's role; set to continue as head coach
The former captain has been in the role for a year, and will announce the squad for the Zimbabwe and NZ series before a new chief selector takes over from December.

ECB confirm plans to undertake first tour of Pakistan in 15 years
The "short white-ball tour" in early 2021 could be England's first visit since 2005. The PCB issued this invitation in the hope that England may have around a week between their tour of Sri Lanka, which is currently planned for January, and their Test and limited-overs series against India, which are due to take place from late January and into March.

What I've loved about the first half of the IPL
With half the IPL now behind us, it's stock-taking time. Mark Nicholas has a list of things he's enjoyed so far - including the Jasprit Bumrah - AB de Villiers - Virat Kohli Super Over, Rahul Tewatia's feats, and more. Tewatia has been one of the IPL's unlikely heroes, and he's not the only one - Sreshth Shah looks at seven underrated players in the tournament. And it's been a season of dropped catches, especially from an unusually sloppy RCB. Which was the costliest of them all? S Rajesh crunched some numbers to find out. Meanwhile, Gaurav Sundararaman has identified one key concern that each franchise needs to address going into the playoffs. Aakash Chopra dives into the contentious T20 anchor player debate to find out why teams are starting slower off the blocks but scoring even faster at the death.

Rabbit Hole: What's the greatest over ever bowled in a T20? Is it a Malinga one?
Or by Dale Steyn? Or Sunil Narine? Or Rashid Khan? Mohammad Isam, Matt Roller and Sreshth Shah discuss.

Ask Steven: Who is the first wicketkeeper to take 100 catches in the IPL?
And which is the highest Test batting partnership in a losing cause? Steven Lynch knows.

How Chennai Super Kings can plug the several holes in their ship
The three-time IPL champions have had a torrid season so far, with just two wins in seven games. Captain MS Dhoni's diagnosis? "Too many holes in the ship". Deivarayan Muthu has ideas on how those holes can be plugged.

Why the player loan system is unlikely to work in the IPL
The IPL allows franchises to loan/borrow player for a limited period during the season and it's kicked in from October 7, but no franchise has sought this path yet. Nagraj Gollapudi knows why it's unlikely they will. How does the player loan scheme work? Here's a primer.

From sickbed to six-hitting: Chris Gayle back to his mark
After sitting out half the IPL and coming down with the stomach flu, Gayle made a dramatic entry, leading KXIP to a win with a fifty against the Royal Challengers. Saurabh Somani has the story.

Country roads, take Steven Smith home
Alan Gardner is in awe of Steven Smith's many talents, but he's not entirely sure country music is one of them.

What made Don Bradman better than the rest?
It wasn't his physical skills that made him stand apart says Ian Chappell.

Lockie Ferguson: "All I wanted to do was just be Christian Cullen"
The New Zealand fast bowler on the first sportsperson he wanted to be - a childhood hero who was a cut above the rest on the field and very low-key off it.

Hey now, you're all stars
A women's white-ball XI packed with some of the biggest names from the women's game? Yes please, says Alex Blackwell, who doesn't just want to watch them, but wants to be playing alongside.

Why Steven Smith's 2019 Ashes batting performance is the greatest of all time in a series
Anantha Narayanan ranks the best batting, bowling and all-round performances in series, taking into account opposition strength and the pitch conditions

The balls of the century, No. 6: Shoaib Akhtar to Adam Gilchrist
Osman Samiuddin remembers the last of the great reverse-swinging yorkers