The eighth edition of the Indian Premier League is now over a week old and the high-profile Twenty20 event is now starting to take shape. Far more will be known, though, after five games in the next three days, when the credentials of surprise leaders Rajasthan Royals will be put to the test. Here’s a look at each matchup:
Mumbai Indians vs. Chennai Super Kings (Friday, 10:30 a.m. EDT, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai)
Mumbai lost their third straight match to start the IPL when going down to Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, and things got worse still when Australian opener Aaron Finch confirmed that a hamstring injury suffered in seven-wicket defeat will keep him out for the rest of the season. It will mean a batting lineup that has faltered so far will have to be further rejigged against a Super Kings team that will be aiming to maintain their 100 percent start.
Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. Delhi Daredevils (Saturday, 6:30 a.m. EDT, ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam)
Neither side made the playoffs last season, and both made losing starts this time around before getting victories this week. The Daredevils’ win over 2014 runners-up Kings XI Punjab, inspired by half-centuries by Yuvraj Singh and Mayank Agarwal, was particularly welcome as it snapped an 11-game losing streak. For Sunrisers, star opening pair David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan both fired in victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore, but the batting lineup failed to sparkle to cost them a defeat to Rajasthan Royals on the final ball.
Kings XI Punjab vs. Kolkata Knight Riders (Saturday, 10:30 a.m. EDT. MCA International Stadium, Pune)
Saturday sees an eagerly anticipated rematch of last year’s final, but neither side have made whilly convincing starts in 2015. Kings XI lost for the second time in three matches when going down to Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday, with big-hitting Australian Glenn Maxwell again failing to hang around long enough to make a sizable impact. Knight Riders, meanwhile, have batted solidly in both their matches but their bowlers couldn’t prevent a Chris Gayle-inspired Royal Challengers from getting the better of them last Saturday. The result leaves them with one win and one defeat going into their attempts to repeat their victory in the 2014 final.
Rajasthan Royals vs. Chennai Super Kings (Sunday, 6:30 a.m. EDT, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad)
Having narrowly missed out on the playoffs a year ago, Royals have begun spectacularly this time around. Even when making matters unexpectedly difficult against Sunrisers after bowling the opposition out for the lowest total of the competition so far, they still got over the line thanks to Australia’s James Faulkner. They will be boosted, too, by the return of captain Shane Watson on Sunday, although their perfect record is set to be severely tested against the only other team still unbeaten in this year’s IPL.
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs. Mumbai Indians (Sunday, 10:30 a.m. EDT, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru)
Royal Challengers suffered a setback when being emphatically beaten by Sunrisers, leaving them undoubtedly keen to get back to winning ways on Sunday. And with the firepower of Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, who regained some form with 41 last time out, they will always be a major threat. Mumbai is now the team charged with dampening that star trio. Rohit Sharma’s side sneaked into the playoffs after starting with five defeats in 2014, but they will not want to put their ability to repeat that feat to the test.
Chennai Super Kings 3/2
Rajasthan Royals 4/1
Royal Challengers Bangalore 4/1
Kings XI Punjab 6/1
Kolkata Knight Riders 9/1
Delhi Daredevils 11/1
Hyderabad Sunrisers 14/1
Mumbai Indians 20/1
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.