It is almost time for one of the biggest spectacles in the cricket and sporting world. The IPL is undoubtedly one of the main attractions for cricket viewers in the yearly calendar, and rightfully so. The world’s best players pitted against each other, in a format which creates huge excitement and drama. This year will be no different, and with even bigger names added to the list, it should be a great season. Here is a preview for all 8 teams competing this year.
Delhi Daredevils: Predicted placing-3rd
Despite the injury setbacks that the Double D’s have received already-Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy being ruled out, and Angelo Mathews carrying a knock, they still have a very strong line up going into this year. The balance of their team is looking very strong, with promising young Indian talent in Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer expected to play a crucial role at the top of the order, and strong middle order players in Karun Nair, Sanju Samson, Sam Billings and Corey Anderson. I think Billings truly needs to stand up for his team this year, with an opportunity being given to him to impress with the injury setbacks to de Kock and Duminy. They have a strong bowling line up as well, and with Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada added to their line up, their pace bowling attack seems even more menacing than ever, especially with Mohammed Shami and the captain Zaheer there as well.
Gujarat Lions: Predicted placing-5th
Gujarat were the dark horses of last years competition, managing to get to the playoffs, and putting on a strong showing during the group stage. They have added the dynamic English opener Jason Roy to their ranks this year, and the prospect of Roy and McCullum opening the batting will have the fans salivating. Gujarat also have a very strong balance in their team, and with the number one ranked bowler in the world Ravindra Jadeja in the form of his life, they will no doubt be relying heavily on match winning performances from him. They were relatively quiet in the auction, and didn’t make any eye catching additions to their bowling ranks, but with James Faulkner, Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar and Jadeja, they can be expected to perform well with the ball. However, I don’t think they will be as good this year as the previous year, especially with their captain Suresh Raina falling so far down the national team’s stocks.
Kings XI Punjab: Predicted placing-2nd
Whilst it may appear from the outside that KXIP don’t have the strongest squad, I believe that they are capable of pulling off one of the great shocks of the IPL, and will make it all the way to the final this year. They are without Murali Vijay this year, and while this is a big loss to them, I believe that Vijay is probably more suited to the longer form of the game, and perhaps gives Punjab the option to play a younger, more explosive player in his absence. They are under new leadership this year, with Aussie Glenn Maxwell being trusted to captain the team, and bring them back from two struggling years in the competition. In the middle order, they have David Miller who has returned to form over the past year, and the England ODI captain Eoin Morgan, who we know can be destructive during the back end of the innings. Punjab acquired young Indian talent T Natarajan to bolster their bowling ranks this year, and have only just announced the addition of Indian test bowler Ishant Sharma to their line up, who will add experience to their roster. Overall, despite this sounding quite optimistic, it is looking promising for KXIP this year, especially with the fact that there are no real expectations on their shoulders.
Mumbai Indians: Predicted placing-8th
Mumbai this year do not look a very strong team. They seem to be looking to over reliant on Rohit Sharma and Jos Buttler, whilst their strong overseas performers from previous years Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga, are not looking anywhere near as threatening as they have previously. They do have a relatively strong bowling attack, with the two Mitchells-McClenaghan and Johnson expected to provide new ball strength, and Jasprit Bumrah to deliver the goods at the death. Mumbai have been so dominant in previous years, but I believe, and I could be completely wrong, that they will have their worst ever season this year.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Predicted placing-1st
In my opinion, Kolkata have the best team on display this year at the IPL. They have the incredibly reliable duo at the top in Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, and they have also increased their bowling power, with Trent Boult and Chris Woakes coming in to their side this year. However, I believe KKR’s season relies on their use of Chris Lynn. In past years, they have not given Lynn nearly enough opportunities to flourish at the top of the order, despite his credentials. He has been unbelievably explosive at the top of the order for Brisbane Heat in the BBL, earning himself national selection, and on his day, he can hit the ball further than any other player on the planet. If they select Lynn, their batting looks very threatening with the added bonus of having players like Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan to come in down the order and get them the runs. Boult and Woakes are great additions to this side, as is the like for like replacement for Andre Russell-Rovman Powell. The Jamaican can hit the ball miles, and also has very good bowling stats, and while he may not be a first choice selection, he can definitely provide some decent performances if he is called upon at any point in the tournament.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Predicted placing-6th
RCB always look to have the strongest team on paper, but always fail to deliver in the crunch games. This year will be even trickier for them, with Virat Kohli set to miss some games through injury, AB de Villiers out for a while with a back injury, and KL Rahul to miss the whole tournament. While they do still have the power in Chris Gayle and Shane Watson, it can be said that they are looking heavily depleted this year. RCB will have to depend on domestic Indian players performing such as Kedhar Jadhav, Stuart Binny and Mandeep Singh. They have added English pace superstar Tymal Mills to enhance their fast bowling, and with a million pound price tag lingering over his head, he will definitely be under pressure to deliver for his side in his inaugural IPL year. When de Villiers and Kohli return, RCB will probably be dominant-it’s hard not to be with the two best limited over batsmen in the world, but whether they can perform at the start is another question.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Predicted placing-7th
Pune undoubtedly have the best players going into this IPL. Their batting line up on paper is unstoppable-Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Steven Smith, MS Dhoni and Ben Stokes will terrify opposition bowlers if they all click together. But that is the main question that lingers over Pune. They didn’t perform well at all last year, and now they are lead by Steve Smith instead of Dhoni, which could lead to more pressure on the side. Stokes is the obvious key addition to this side, with them shelling out over £2 million for him in the auction. Stokes can be destructive with the bat, and can be very effective with the ball, unless it’s in the last over bowling against Carlos Brathwaite of course! Their bowling is what looks weak this year, despite them signing Imran Tahir. Pune’s fast bowling is not going to threaten opposition teams, and I can see them conceding huge totals this year.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Predicted placing-4th
Last year’s winners have the difficult task of retaining their title this year-something which has only ever been done once, by Chennai Super Kings in 2010 and 2011. Last season, David Warner was the MVP of the tournament in my opinion, as he virtually carried his team over the line, with over 800 runs, and brilliant captaincy. This year, he is coming off the back of a difficult Test Series in India in which he was not able to contribute as much with the bat. With the friendlier pitches of the IPL, he might be able to find his form again, and put in more match winning innings for his franchise. SRH also have the New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who I believe should be utilised as an opener instead of the number 3 role in t20. Williamson is in the top 10 ranked players in international t20, and can be a very useful player to have during the powerplay. SRH were very active in the auction, adding two Afghanistan players to their team in Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. He might not look it, but Khan is only 18, and has produced many eye catching bowling performances for his international side in recent times, including a 5fer in the recently concluded Afghanistan vs Ireland series. If they play Khan, he could catch batsmen out with his variations and mystery. Overall, SRH do have a very strong team, but I believe the burden of retaining the title will befall them this year.