As IPL 2020 enters its fourth week, we take a look at the major takeaways from the previous week’s action.

Tripathi’s inclusion solidifies KKR’s batting

Sunil Narine punt at the top of the order didn’t work this season and they were struggling to zero in on a fixed batting order as a result. To start off, KKR won two of their first three matches but they weren’t quite looking like a well-settled unit. And one change seems to be making the difference.

Rahul Tripathi was brought into the XI for Kuldeep Yadav and though he batted at eight in his first match of the season, his 16-ball-36 took KKR close to an improbable win against Delhi Capitals. Next match, after a promotion to the opening slot, he scored a match-winning 51-ball-81 against CSK.

Tripathi struggled to get going against KXIP, perishing after scoring just four runs, but with him batting at the top alongside Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana coming in at three, the middle order of Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell, followed by Pat Cummins and Narine, both of whom can push for quick runs, the KKR batting order now looks much more settled and threatening.

Delhi Capitals on a roll

There’s no stopping Delhi Capitals. Their two wins this week were both convincing – they beat RCB by 59 runs and RR by 46 runs. Each of their top five batsmen who featured in their last encounter, against Rajasthan Royals, have scored at least 130 runs in the ongoing season. The bowling attack, too, looks settled despite Amit Mishra’s absence, as all the bowlers who have bowled in at least four innings have a minimum of five wickets to their name.

They have had five different players of the match in their five wins and while Shimron Hetmyer started off slowly, he found form as well with a 24-ball-45 against Rajasthan. There have been contributions from almost everyone in their squad.

The Ricky Ponting-coached side look the most well-gelled unit so far in the tournament. The loss to Mumbai Indians could be a minor blip, but they would be more concerned about Rishabh Pant, who has been ruled out for at least a week due to injury.

Currently the favourites for a spot in the playoffs, unless IPL gives us one of its many dramatic turnarounds. Ask the Royals, who had a sudden downwards slope in 2014, before Corey Anderson broke their hearts one eve in Mumbai.

KXIP – so near, yet so far

They have three of the top ten run-scorers with both their openers leading the charts, two bowlers who have taken eight or more wickets in the ongoing season so far, but KXIP continue to end up on the losing side.

They were almost through against Delhi Capitals, their opening IPL 2020 encounter, only to fall in the super over. They were cruising with 29 needed to get off the last overs against KKR, but quite stunningly fell short by a few centimetres.

With only two points on the board after seven matches, Anil Kumble, KL Rahul & Co. have now entered a phase where every encounter is potentially a do-or-die one.

Samson loses steam after a bright start

Samson’s 32-ball-74 and 42-ball-85 to start the IPL prompted Gautam Gambhir, the former India batsman, to label the RR star the ‘best young batsman in India’. But in the four matches that followed, Samson has managed scores of 8, 4, 0 and 5 respectively.

The wicketkeeper-batsman’s pattern of scores is similar to his performances in the last few seasons of the IPL, where he starts well but runs dry up as the tournament progresses. It’s this inconsistency that has probably kept him from finding a permanent spot in the India white-ball set up.

CSK’s problems intensify

CSK started the week with an emphatic win – a 10-wicket drubbing of Kings XI Punjab. But as the week progressed, their old problems resurfaced. A weak middle order was exposed when they couldn’t chase down 168 against KKR, even with 69 runs needed from the last eight overs with nine wickets in hand.

Against RCB, the top order failed to accelerate, meandering their way to 63-2 by the 12th over, which left too much for the middle order to get in the latter half of the chase. It’s an issue which even Dhoni acknowledged after the RCB loss.

“Batting has been a bit of a worry and today also it was evident,” he said. “We need to do something about it. I think we are better off playing the other way round, playing the bigger shots even if you get out. That is something we can do in the coming games.”

CSK have now played half of their IPL 2020 league games, winning only two, and are now left needing a big turnaround in their second half of matches, if they are to maintain their 100% record of qualifying for the IPL playoffs. Recalling the 2010 edition might serve them well, when after a similar slump, they rediscovered the winning ways and went on to lift their maiden IPL title.