Lucknow Super Giants' Ayush Badoni negotiating the Chennai spinners with a copybook defence in Lucknow on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Indian Premier League Season 16 is well into the second half of its long, gruelling schedule. Generally, it is this phase that throws up more surprises. One of the main reasons for the change in fortunes of table-toppers is due to the weary pitches. The dry and low-bounce wickets will be assisting the bowlers more, giving less opportunities to the batters to play the big shots.

In the last five games, only two were high-scoring contests, going with the trend set during the first phase. The other three games were extremely low scores for Twenty20 standards, almost run a ball. Still the teams batting first managed to defend the total.

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Personally, these low-scoring games are more interesting to watch, where the bowlers make the batters toil for runs, testing their skills. The asking rate will always be within reach and, hence, the match could turn on its head with just one or two big overs, even if the batting side had lost half its team back in the pavilion. Such contests will keep swinging both ways, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. One of the reasons for IPL’s undiminished popularity even after so many years.

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Delhi Capitals' spinner Kuldeep Yadav celebrates after dismissing Gujarat Titans' David Miller. Image Credit: AFP

This year, the added incentive is the teams are so close, just two points separating the top seven, the race for the last four spots will go all the way to the wire. It was the case in the previous editions too, but this time it could for a two or even three spots till the final league games are over, sending the fans’ pulse rate to dangerous levels. Delhi Capitals, who are at the bottom of the table with six points, still have the chance to reach 16 points and advance to the next stage. The possibilities are endless.

Tempers flying around

It’s anybody’s guess how Chennai Super Kings would have responded to Lucknow Super Giants’ low score as the rain ensured both teams shared the two points on offer, but both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals managed to defend the totals of 126 and 130 to come out winners.

Bangalore, despite scoring 130, went on to win by five runs with tempers flying around during and after the match. The scenes were so ugly that cricket fans forgot about the match and the discussion centred around the spat involving Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir and Naveen ul Haq.

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Mumbai Indians' Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav put on a match-winning partnership against Punjab Kings. Image Credit: ANI

Potent attack

On the positive note, the return of form of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan should be a pleasing news to Mumbai. The five-time champions were chasing a big target against a potent Punjab bowling attack and Mumbai banked on the duo to deliver.

They did not disappoint their fans to win by six wickets and leapfrog Punjab to sixth spot. Mumbai’s bowling display and the form of Rohit Sharma continue to be an issue for the fans of the five-time champions, but nevertheless they got the two important points.

“Really happy that we ended up on the winning side but at the same time I felt that I should have finished the game again like the last time. When their innings ended, we knew we had to bat with positive intent. I just wanted to give support to Kishan who was playing with a good strike rate,” said Suryakumar Yadav after playing his trademark 360 degrees during his 31-ball 66, while Kishan slammed 75 off 41 balls.

The coming week is the rivalry week, which will have classic matchups. The IPL is sizzling now.