The Indian Premier League still has another 14 matches to run in the league stage but the bookmakers have clearly decided the identity of the four teams who will go through to the play-offs.
In the ‘to reach the final’ market there is a not much to choose between Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiant, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The big marker mover is the ridiculously-named Supergiant. They began the series in terrible fashion but they are now on an extraordinary run of results – it is six wins from seven. And they could take some stopping.
On Wednesday Supergiant crushed Kolkata at their home ground, where they had lost just once before. It was a complete performance. They bowled with discipline first up and restricted Kolkata to just 155. Then they set about their target with gusto. Rahul Tripathi hit 93 from 52 balls to win the man of the match award.
There are two elements to Pune’s rise which punters have to respect. The first is that they have got their bowling in order. They started the tournament with the reputation as a team who were hopeless in the field and had instead spent all of their money on a superstar batters or glitzy all-rounders, like Ben Stokes for a world-record fee.
They lived up to that reputation. But lately, they have been much improved. And it’s all been down to the surge from young thrusters like Sundar Washington, a spinner, and Jayant Unadkat, a left-arm pacer.
Such youngsters are ordinarily the weak link in franchises – every team must play some as per tournament rules- so if a team can hit upon stellar performers they are made. The pair have revolutionized their bowling making them economical and dangerous.
The second element is Tripathi, who has done a similar job with the bat. Pune do not need to rely on their big names like Ajinkya Rahane, Dhoni, Stokes or Dan Christian when Tripathi is in such sizzling form.
There will be challenges to come for Pune, notably when they lose Imran Tahir to South Africa duty. Tahir is their top wicket-taker with 17.