Shaun Marsh, the tournament's top scorer, is Punjab's main man (file photo) © Getty Images
 

Kings XI Punjab

Most valuable player

Shaun Marsh has lit up the Indian Premier League with calculated assaults on his way to becoming the tournament's highest scorer. He took only 10 matches to score 593 runs at 74.12, a feat which earned him the orange cap, and ensured that Kings XI Punjab finished second on the league table. He launched into the Rajasthan Royals in the final league match, taking only 58 balls to become the tournament's sixth centurion.

Top performers

Kumar Sangakkara, despite featuring in only nine matches due to injury, has blitzed four quick-fire fifties to provide the impetus at the start. He fell six runs short of a century in Punjab's first game against Mumbai.

Sreesanth has shied away from his aggressive avatar after the much-publicised incident involving Harbhajan Singh, and decided to take a more studious approach to bowling. The results have been dramatic: in his first three matches, he took three wickets at 34.66 but after the episode, he has claimed 16 wickets at 20.68 to become the team's strike force. Overall, he is the second-highest wicket-taker.

Piyush Chawla has not been afraid to toss the ball up and he has been rewarded with 17 wickets, making him the second most successful slow bowler.

Captaincy
Yuvraj Singh's leadership has not been severely tested but he has shown an openness to discuss tactics with his international peers, particularly Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain. He has also shown the way on the field - he helped Punjab to a last-ball win at the Wankhede Stadium, taking a cue from the Jonty Rhodes fielding manual by diving full length to affect a stunning run out.

Strengths and weaknesses

Punjab have made the best use of the first six overs, scoring at 8.79 an over. They have also been excellent in the field and their performance reached its peak against Mumbai, when they pulled off four run outs including three in the last over.

Yuvraj's inexperience with captaincy could hamper them in the knock-out phase. Their bowling has also been exposed at the death: they have the worst record when it comes to runs conceded in the last five overs among the semi-finalists.

Stats and trivia

  • Marsh, with 25 sixes, is second on the six-hitter's list.
  • He has also won five Man-of-the-Match awards, the most in the tournament so far.
  • Punjab have hit the most number of sixes: 93

  • Chennai's charge will be led by Albie Morkel (file photo) © Getty Images
     

    Chennai Super Kings

    Most valuable player

    Chennai's South African import, Albie Morkel, has showcased his all-round abilities since being given an opportunity following Jacob Oram's departure. A few eyebrows were raised when he was bought for US$675,000 but he has justified his billing with 225 runs at 37.50 and 13 wickets at 26.29. Unfortunately, his best batting effort, a 40-ball 71, came in a losing cause against Rajasthan.

    Top performers

    Suresh Raina has been a consistent performer for Chennai - he's made 323 runs at 32.30 and he was instrumental in earning a berth in the last four, with an unbeaten 54 against Deccan Chargers. In their encounter against Mumbai, he even briefly outshone Matthew Hayden while taking the attack to the visitors. His value has increased since the exits of Hayden and Michael Hussey.

    Manpreet Gony has been consistent with the new ball and, with 14 wickets, has become Chennai's highest wicket-taker, outshining reputed names such as Muttiah Muralitharan and Makhaya Ntini.

    L Balaji made a remarkable comeback by taking the first hat-trick of the tournament, against Punjab. This helped Chennai claim their second victory in a three-match winning streak and helped address their failure to take wickets regularly.

    Captaincy

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni has had a chequered tournament as far as the leadership is concerned. He was on top of his game at the beginning of Chennai's campaign, when they won four matches in a row but since then, he has not been able to get consistent performances from his players. While he has been honest about shortcomings, and taken bold steps, such as dropping Muralitharan against Bangalore Royal Challengers, he will need to step it up in the semi-finals. He initially tasted success with lucky charm Joginder Sharma, in close wins against Mumbai and Bangalore, but has since benched the fast bowler in favour of Balaji, who has added teeth to the bowling line-up.

    Strengths and weaknesses

    Chennai's best bet has been their middle-order, which has masked the inadequate performances at the top. Dhoni, with 385 runs, is the team's top-scorer, and with Raina and S Badrinath to follow, and Morkel to finish things off, they have sparkled at the death. They have also raised their levels of play in the climactic stages of nail-biters, winning on three occasions.

    One of Chennai's main bugbears during the league phase has been their opening combination. Barring Hayden, none of their other openers have performed. Parthiv Patel, Stephen Fleming, and S Vidyut average in the early twenties, while the average opening partnership is 30. Another problem area is their bowlers, who have not taken enough wickets (they have taken the least among the teams in the last four).

    Stats and trivia
  • Among the semi-finalists, Chennai have made the best use of the last five overs by maintaining a run-rate of 10.24
  • Chennai have two hat-trick men among their ranks, Balaji and Ntini.
  • Ashok Ganguly is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo