IPL preview



Gaurav Joshi reporting from India

It is hard to believe but despite all the controversies, disputes and rest of the off-field dramas the IPL is in its seventh year this year.

On the field the Chennai Super Kings are the only team to win IPL twice, Mumbai Indians are regaining champions, Rajasthan Royals on the rise but falling at the last hurdle, Bangalore Royal Challengers the under achievers, Kolkata Knight riders ”“ one campaign wonderers, Delhi Daredevils anything but daring, Hyderabad Sunrises ”“ on the rise but lack the depth and finally the Punjab Kings ”“ the optimists.   So what does the season seven hold for the eight teams?

Mumbai Indians

They are the regaining champions but their decision to exclude Johnson and Dwayne Smith was ignorant. Playing on the fastest pitch in India, it would have been wise to persist with the World fastest bowler in Johnson but instead have gone with the experienced Zaheer.   Anderson still has plenty to prove and it will be difficult for Pollard to replicate his stunning season last year. Having won CLT20 and the IPL, are the Mumbai Indians hungry enough this time around? Selections at the auctions suggest more of experimenting rather than planning. Prediction: 6th

Best 11: Tare, Hussey, Rohit, Rayudu, Pollard, Anderson, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Malinga, Ojya, Bumrah

Rajasthan Royals

This could just be their year. Can they overcome the loss of Dravid on the field? Watson captaincy will be aggressive but not sure the Australian has the thinking of Dravid. Big season for Sanju Samson and Unmukt Chand if the both can perform consistently it will only make them more formidable with Rahane, Watson and Steve Smith. Versatile with the ball is the key as well. Plenty of options in the pace and spin bowling department. Prediction : 2nd    

Best 11:  Rahane, Chand, Watson, Samson, Smith, Bhatia, Binny, Faulkner, Kulkarni, Tambe, Southee

Chennai Superkings

One thing that should be clear is MS Dhoni is not deterred by any controversies off the field in fact it seems to bring out the best in him as a leader and he tends to inspire his team mates even further. Importantly for his beloved Super Kings, the core group of players are the same. When India four players are playing in one IPL team it is a huge bonus as the other four international players make it a super power.   It is a mantra that has served well for last seven seasons. With only three players that he put into the ”˜Tier 2’ bracket, Chennai will be there or there about on the first day of June. Du Plessis at the top will fill the big shoes of Hussey and the lethargic Nehra could be the surprise packet with the ball if he stays fit. Look for Aparajith to play a similar role to Badrinath.  Preditcion: 1st

Best X1: Du Plessis, Smith, Raina, Aparajith, Bravo, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, Nehra, Hilfenhaus, Mohit.

Hyderabad Sunrisers

Nobody expected the Sunrisers to make the semi finals last year but they did it on back of some brilliant attacking bowling. Mishra and Steyn the two catalysts will be their again this year and are certain to have more runs to play with this year with the inclusion of Warne and Finch at the top.   Pathan and Rassol are two all-rounders that will offer nice balance so overall it looks to be balanced team.  If they can find a batsmen to hold up one end and rotate the strike they can be a complete team, perhaps a KL Rahul can be given the responsibility. Prediction: 4th

Best X1: Warner, Finch, Dhawan, KL Rahul, Sammy, Ojha, Pathan, Rassol, Mishra, Steyn, B.Kumar,

Delhi Darevils  

Delhi has to be commended on their strategy of making Peitersen their captain and taking the approach of a complete restructure. New coach or captain with a new team is certain to make an impact, the last time Peitersen played consistently they were the favourites and with the calming experience of Kirsten are bound to be a tight unit. It is a team full of local Indian batsmen so expect likes of Kedar Jadav and Murali Vijay to be the linchpin. The bowling is stocked with spinners but lack than penetrating wicket taking fast bowler to back up Shami. Prediction: 7th

Best X1:   Vijay, Peitersen, Karthik, Taylor, Dumminy, M.Tiwary, Jadhav, Rahul Sharma, Unadkat, Nadeem, Shami

Kolkata Knight Riders

The knightriders keep persisting with the horses for courses policy. They thrive on the slow pitch at home but the team lacks versatility. This year the fast bowling has been bolstered with the inclusion of Yadav, Morkel and Cummins. While Chawla has been picked to partner Narine, the batting has a similar feel and once again a lot will be expected from Kallis and Gambhir.  Prediction: 8th

Best X1: Bisla, Uttappa, Gambhir, Kallis, Pathan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shakib Ul-Hasan, Chawla, Cummins, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav

Punjab Kings 11

No team has recruited better than the Kings X1 but can they transform it on the field. Bailey is a terrific captain and perhaps the team’s greatest strength is that there will be no dependency on one or two players. Manadeep Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Manan Vohra are players that have been on the fringe for a while and Punjab need them to take their game to the next level. The only issue is the team lacks a genuine spinner so Murali Kartik will need to be instrumental for them to go a long way.

Best X1: Saha, Sehwag, Manadeep, Maxwell, Miller, Bailey, Dhawan, Johnson, Kartik, Sandeep Sharma, Awana Prediction: 5t

Bangalore Royal Challengers

The batting is phenomenal but have they shopped well enough to be potent with the ball. Bangalore issue has been the disparity between the top players and the bottom is huge. Starc, Dinda, Aaron add bowling depth and are genuine wicket takers. The challenge for Bangalore is to find some biding Indian youngsters to pluck the small gaps. Looking at their list, it is difficult to find the local domestic players. In spite of all that they have the two best all round batsmen in world cricket in Kohli and De Villers so perhaps with the fast bowlers in stock this could finally be their year.

Best X1: Gayle, Parthiv Patel, Kohli, Zol, Yuvraj, AB DeVillers, Starc, Muralitharan, Jakati, Dinda, Harshal Patel. Prediction: 3rd



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