Five or six days ago, it was possible for teams to dismiss a defeat as just a bad day at the office and make up for the loss by winning the next game. Now, however, the tournament is approaching a stage where every result could be critical for progress to semifinals.
When a single victory can lift a team from the seventh position to second, as it did to the Rajasthan Royals, we know there is an extremely healthy competition.
Only the unfortunate Knight Riders have dropped off the pace and may have to wait until the next year.
I am certain that a couple of semifinal places will be decided by the addition of Australian players to various franchises. I don’t believe it is possible for players to maintain maximum intensity and focus during such a hectic schedule, and I think the arrival of new faces will almost certainly benefit certain teams.
Some players have told me that the travel schedule is beginning to wear them down and they are beginning to struggle with energy levels.
Several of the teams have started to look a bit stale, notably the Kings XI Punjab who will be looking forward to the arrival of Brett Lee and all rounder James Hopes. Hopes is just the solid, dependable sort of cricketer who could make an impression in the remaining matches.
Lee will obviously be rusty after the injury lay-off. However, his experience might come in handy.
It’s hard to believe that the Deccan Chargers won’t benefit from Andrew Symonds although, sadly for David Hussey, he will board a sinking ship, the Knight Riders.
But it’s not just the internationals who can infuse energy. The difference that Naman Ojha made to the Royals was obvious in their victory over the Kings XI.
Every team needs to consider fresh faces.
With the points table congested, I believe the semifinal places should be decided through a bonus points system rather than net run rate which is irrelevant and misleading. If a team wins inside 16 overs, for example, or scores more than 20 per cent of the other team’s runs, then it should get a bonus point.
Finally, I am not a betting man but if I were, my money would be on the Delhi Daredevils.