The IPL has once again proven itself to be a remarkable competition.
Already we’ve seen a smattering of all that you’d want from a cricket tournament: There have been shocks, tense finishes, massive scores, dominant victories and an unyieldingly impressive standard of cricket throughout.
The teams are all beginning to find a rhythm—some positive, some negative—and as such, we’re in a better position to decipher which sides look most likely to win this season’s competition.
And sometimes, to look forward you have to take a little glance back. So following the Rajasthan Royals' five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, let’s take a look at the favourites for the title and which teams have been impressing in the tournament so far with the biggest scores and greatest margins of victory.
All statistics courtesy of ESPNcricinfo.com.
Leading the way atop the current standings are Kings XI Punjab, who’ve been wholly impressive in the tournament so far.
With the bat, Glenn Maxwell has been the standout performer in this year’s IPL. At the time of writing, he’s helped himself to a whopping 474 runs, 78 runs more than his nearest challenger. The team’s official Twitter account thinks that the team could be unstoppable given Maxwell’s recent form:
In Sandeep Sharma, Punjab also have one of the standout bowlers in the competition: He’s taken 13 wickets so far from his seven matches.
It gives Kings XI a balance between bat and ball that isn’t quite as prominent in the rest of the teams, although one side that could match them in both departments is the Chennai Super Kings.
With Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith at the top of their batting order, Chennai have been able to get off to some blistering starts in the competition. The opening duo trail Maxwell in third and second respectively in terms of the most runs scored, and like Punjab, Chennai have some very capable bowlers too.
The standout two bowlers for the Super Kings have been Ravindra Jadeja and Mohit Sharma, who have taken 11 and 15 wickets respectively. The subtle variations both bowlers bring to the table make Chennai very difficult to score off. And when you consider the totals they’ve amassed via the dynamism of Smith and McCullum, it’s little wonder they’re right up at the top of the standings.
The Super Kings might just have the edge on Kings XI in the long term. The latter seem heavily reliant on Maxwell, and if he fails to fire you wonder if the rest of their batting line-up have the capabilities of posting a big score, although Virender Sehwag has showcased some positive form of late.
Nonetheless, if the Aussie continues to fire, Kings XI have as good a chance as anyone.
Biggest Team Scores
|IPL 2014: Biggest Team Scores|
|Kings XI Punjab||231/4||20.0||Chennai Super Kings|
|Kings XI Punjab||206/4||18.5||Chennai Super Kings|
|Chennai Super Kings||205/4||20.0||Kings XI Punjab|
|Kings XI Punjab||198/8||20.0||Royal Challengers Bangalore|
|Kings XI Punjab||193/3||18.4||Rajasthan Royals|
Punjab Kings XI have smashed two enormous totals against the Chennai Super Kings so far in this tournament.
In their opening game of the competition, Punjab accumulated a total of 206/4 in chasing down the Super Kings’ total of 205/4, but they blitzed that score in their most recent contest.
Inspired again by Maxwell—who smashed 90 runs from just 38 balls—Kings XI posted a stratospheric total of 231/4.
It was another emphatic indication of Maxwell's quality in the T20 format, and Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle has been seriously impressed by the Aussie batsman’s performance in the IPL:
Kings XI Punjab’s accumulation of the mammoth total was also helped by some blistering late hitting from some of their lower-order batsmen. Skipper George Bailey smashed 40 from just 13 balls, whilst the big-hitting David Miller whacked 47 from just 32.
A score of 231/4 is extremely rare in T20 cricket, and it’s very, very difficult to see anybody topping that particular total. Maxwell’s innings was one of the greatest ever seen in this particular format, and it’ll take a knock of comparable majesty for a team to get anywhere 231/4.
Greatest Victory Margins
|IPL 2014: Biggest Winning Margins|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||9 wickets||150||Kings XI Punjab|
|Bangalore Royal Challengers||8 wickets||146||Delhi Daredevils|
|Chennai Super Kings||8 wickets||179||Delhi Daredevils|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||8 wickets||161||Delhi Daredevils|
|Sunrisers Hyderabad||8 wickets||43||Delhi Daredevils|
|Chennai Super Kings||93 runs||178||Delhi Daredevils|
|Kings XI Punjab||72 runs||194||Sunrisers Hyderabad|
|Kings XI Punjab||44 runs||232||Chennai Super Kings|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||41 runs||164||Mumbai Indians|
|Chennai Super Kings||34 runs||149||Kolkata Knight Riders|
The Kolkata Knight Riders swatted aside Kings XI Punjab in a dominant recent showing. Having limited the league leaders to a measly total of 150 from their 20 overs, the Knight Riders’ batsmen made light work of the chase.
A quick-fire 46 from Robin Uthappa set a positive early tone for Kolkata, as he accumulated his runs from just 28 balls. He was dismissed in the seventh over to give Punjab a glimmer of hope, but skipper Gautam Gambhir struck 63 from 45 balls to help see his team home for a nine-wicket win.
The Knight Riders were quick to pay tribute to the brilliant effort by their captain, who has now scored three half-centuries in a row:
Kolkata notched another dominant win in their game prior to their victory over the league leaders. That was an eight-wicket win against the Delhi Daredevils, a team that have been on the end of some big defeats in this tournament so far and are fast becoming the whipping boys of the competition.
In terms of victories by runs, it’s the Chennai Super Kings who still lead the way after their 93-run win against Delhi.
Will we see a 10-wicket win? Or even a victory by more than 100 runs? Given their current deficiencies, you suspect that if there is going to be an absolute trouncing it’ll come at the expense of the Daredevils. They face Kings XI Punjab on 19 May, and if Maxwell can continue his stunning form, Delhi could be on the end of yet another hiding.