Heading into match 40 of the season, the Rajasthan Royals (RR), the Gujarat Titans (GT), the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) occupy the top four slots.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 is more than halfway through. The massive changes in teams following the mega auction have impacted the two most successful franchises, the Mumbai Indians (MI) and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), which are languishing at the bottom of the points table. While Mumbai have lost their first eight matches, Chennai have won only two of their eight games. Heading into match 40 of the season, the Rajasthan Royals (RR), the Gujarat Titans (GT), the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) occupy the top four slots. Will all these teams qualify for the playoffs, or will some other teams pop into the top four? Here’s a prediction on the four teams that will qualify for the playoffs.

1. Rajasthan Royals: RR seem all set to qualify for the playoffs. According to some cricketer analysts, they are favourites to clinch the trophy. They have won six out of their first eight matches. Jos Buttler has been absolutely sensational for them, hammering three hundreds and two fifties. The only cause of concern for them will be whether he has peaked a bit too early. Shimron Hetmyer has proved to be the X factor on expected lines. He has come in towards the death and smacked the bowling to all parts of the ground. RR will also be pleased that Devdutt Padikkal has got some runs. Skipper Sanju Samson has looked threatening in parts. Rajasthan also have one of the finest bowling line-ups with a lot of variety. Trent Boult is a class act; Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen are promising youngsters, while spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin perfectly complement each other.

2. Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya-led Gujarat Titans (GT) have been a revelation in their debut season. They lost only one of their first seven matches. GT’s greatest USP is a brilliant bowling attack that keeps coming at you. It begins with Mohammed Shami claiming early wickets, Yash Dayal bowling with pace, Lockie Ferguson controlling the middle and death overs and Rashid Khan strangling the opposition. There is no release point for the opposition batters if everyone is in form. If needed, Hardik himself can bowl. The captain has been brilliant with the bat, while Shubman Gill has also played a couple of match-winning knocks. When all seemed lost against Chennai, David Miller and Rashid delivered the goods. GT seem to have players who can rise to the occasion. (We haven’t even spoken about Rahul Tewatia).

3. Lucknow Super Giants (LSG): The other IPL debutants this season, the Lucknow Super Giants, also have a good chance of making the playoffs. They have a highly balanced batting and bowling line-up. They have won five and lost three of their eight matches, but this is a team on the up and is high on skill level. Franchise skipper KL Rahul has been in sublime form with the bat and has struck two centuries. Quinton de Kock has been inconsistent, but he is a match-winner, as is the big-hitting Marcus Stoinis. Krunal Pandya, Deepak Hooda and Ayush Badoni can chip in as all-rounders. They have the wicket-taking ability in Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi with the ball. Jason Holder is exceptional at the death.

4. Delhi Capitals (DC): While SRH are currently in the top four, the Delhi Capitals (DC) have a better chance of making the playoffs, given their superior all-round strength. As of now, Delhi have three wins and four losses. But expect them to recover and sneak into the top four. In David Warner and Prithvi Shaw, they have the most destructive opening pair in IPL 2022. If Rishabh Pant comes to the party, expect him to; nothing better for DC. Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur can win matches for the team with both bat and ball. Lalit Yadav is a useful all-rounder, while Rovman Powell proved how destructive he can be against RR. They also have an excellent bowling attack comprising Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep Yadav and Mustafizur Rahman, apart from the abovementioned all-rounders.

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