The 2015 Indian Premier League is approaching its halfway stage and starting to take firm shape ahead of a packed schedule of matches over the next three days. The Twenty20 tournament, now in its eighth year, continues to have surprise leaders, as well as some big-name teams falling short of expectations. Still, with plenty of time remaining before the top four teams progress to the playoff stage, f opportunity remains for fortunes to be transformed.
Here’s what to look forward to over the weekend.
Rajasthan Royals vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (Friday, 10:30 a.m. EDT, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad)
Rajasthan Royals saw their perfect start to the 2015 IPL come to the end after five-straight wins when losing in a Super-Over finish to Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday. But they still sit top of the standings and have been getting big runs at the top of the order from Ajinkya Rahane and captain Shane Watson. Runs are something their next opponents haven’t been receiving nearly enough of from their star batting lineup. While Virat Kohli scored a half-century last time out for Royal Challengers Bangalore, AB de Villiers was dismissed without making an impact and West Indian Twenty20 great Chris Gayle was dropped from the lineup. Defeat to Chennai Super Kings was their third straight after an opening win.
Mumbai Indians vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad (Saturday, 6:30 a.m. EDT, Wannkhede Stadium Mumbai)
Mumbai Indians snapped their four-game winless streak to begin the season against Royal Challengers last weekend, but were back to losing ways in a comprehensive defeat by Delhi Daredevils on Thursday. If they are to lift themselves off the bottom of the table, they will likely need Rohit Sharma to lead from the front. The Mumbai captain has 220 runs so far this season. Next up will be a Sunrisers team that scored an impressive win over Kolkata Knight Riders when Australian opener David Warner led them to their highest total of the tournament so far.
Chennai Super Kings vs. Kings XI Punjab (Saturday, 10:30 a.m. EDT, M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai)
After a first defeat in 2015 against Rajasthan Royals, Super Kings bounced back to beat Royal Challengers on Wednesday thanks to a rapid 62 from Suresh Raina. Super Kings remain the favorites of many to take this year’s title, and, with Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum batting well at the top of the order and Ashish Nehra posting the best bowling figures of the competition so far, it is easy to see why. Having been beaten in last year’s final, Kings XI need to begin to build some momentum if they are to get back to that stage. Following back-to-back defeats, a Super-Over win over Rajasthan Royals could provide the springboard.
Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Rajasthan Royals (Sunday 6:30 a.m. EDT, Eden Gardens, Kolkata)
Kolkata Knight Riders will now be aiming to inflict a second successive defeat upon Royals. But to do so they will have to bounce back from a Duckworth-Lewis defeat to Sunrisers when their batting lineup failed to make the most of what had appeared a reachable total. Currently third in the standings after three wins form five matches, Knight Riders are likely to need captain Gautam Gambhir to resume his consistent run-getting and have fast bowler Morne Morkel stop a dangerous Royals batting order.
Delhi Daredevils vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore (Sunday, 10:30 a.m. EDT, Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi)
After 11 successive defeats in the IPL stretching back to last year, Delhi Daredevils have now won three of their last four. Their most recent victory was the most impressive of the lot, and to much relief it ended a run of nine straight home losses. Daredevils got the better of Mumbai Indians by 37 runs on the back of an IPL season-high partnership of 154 from captain JP Duminy and Shreyas Iyer. Another win on Sunday would solidify their place in the top four and pour further misery on a Royal Challengers team desperately needing to kick-start their campaign.
TV channel: For viewers in the United States, Dish and Mediacom will offer pay-per-view coverage, with subscriptions available through your set-top box or contacting your provider.
Live streaming info: ESPN Cricket will provide live-streaming coverage of every match via a subscription costing $79.99.