It’s all to play for at the halfway point

Things still look really open at the halfway point of the IPL.

Kings XI Punjab are bottom of the pile, but they could easily be top. The way that they've played, and the team that they've got, has been promising, but they've just learned to lose.

KL Rahul's batting has been brilliant – both he and Mayank Agarwal have been amazing so far in this tournament.

My captain of the tournament so far is Shreyas Iyer at the Delhi Capitals. He's just been sensational, the way he's managed to play and the way in which he has used his fast bowlers.

Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada have also been formidable for Delhi and their young Indian batting line-up has been quite spectacular.

At the other end of the scale, Chennai Super Kings are a huge worry. They chased down 180 quite magnificently against KXIP on Sunday, but faltered against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday.

Faf du Plessis has played nicely but, other than one brilliant knock by Shane Watson, he’s been a lone ranger.

Chasing teams have found themselves playing on slower wickets in the second half of the match - it's been difficult to knock the runs off.

One theme of the tournament so far is how often the team that bats first is winning.

The pitches are slowing down a lot, and the players are making best use of the facilities early on.

The wickets are a lot better as the sun sets in the first innings, and then the dew – which everybody thought was going to be crucial during run chases – has not really been too much of a factor.

There was some dew on the first couple of nights, but since then there hasn't been that much, which has made it comfortable for teams bowling second.

Chasing teams have often found themselves playing against a softer ball and on slower wickets in the second half of the match, so it's been difficult to actually knock off the runs at the end.

The young Indian batsmen are fearless

Indian batsmen like Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Devdutt Padikkal are lighting up the IPL.

The way these young players are now playing the pull and the hook shot is sometimes better than any of the players who have been brought up on fast, bouncy wickets in Australia or South Africa.

It is a result of this academy of learning that these guys have become accustomed to in the IPL. The tournament has diminished the fear factor when it comes to facing fast bowling.

When the IPL started out, guys like Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn brought a level of intimidation with them.

But, as a result, the young guys coming through now are growing up feeling so much more confident about facing pace bowling, and you can see it clearly in this competition.

If you’ve got a good pull shot or hook shot, you’re not intimidated by fast bowling, and then your foundation is set as a batsman; you can start to thrive and flourish.

They’re not frightened to take these shots on, and then they can get on the front foot and start whacking it all over the place.

Rohit Sharma was the leader of the pack. He was and is a brilliant player of the pull shot. He’s set an example for Indian batsmen of how to play the short ball, and the others have followed.

It’s going to benefit Indian cricket big time.

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