The countdown to the 11th season of the cricketing extravaganza by the name of Indian Premier League (IPL) has already begun.
After months of preparations, action-packed auctions and retentions, teams finally have the blueprint of their personnel throughout the high-octane tournament.
The nature of the cash-rich league is such that every team has an equal chance to lift the coveted trophy. Given the members present on the roster, their unavailability and recent form, few teams appear to have the edge over the others.
Here, we look at some of the teams and their chances of clinching the coveted trophy.
Royals, on their comeback trail, start off as favourites to win the eleventh edition of IPL. RR was always known to pick lesser known players and moulding them towards excellence. As a result, Royals splurged smaller amount in each auction as compared to other teams.
But this time around, the Rajasthan Royals, revamped their traditional style of bidding and bagged two of the most expensive players in this year auction.
Looking at the quality, depth and balance of the team, the Royals would be disappointed if they do not reach the playoffs this season.
They have an inspirational leader in Steve Smith who almost took the RPS side towards victory last year. Also, the presence of Shane Warne as a mentor will only do the team a world of good.
Royals possess the best all-rounder in the world – Ben Stokes, and his hard-hitting compatriot Jos Buttler. The star-studded lineup boasts of the likes of Laughlin, D’arcy Short, and Archer, who were the finds of the latest edition of BBL.
The form of Indian internationals Ajinkya Rahane and Jaydev Unadkat is going to be crucial for RR’s chances. Domestic heavyweights Samson, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shreyas Gopal and Gowtham, form the core of the lineup.
Therefore, one must expect the Jaipur based to go deep into the tournament and even lift the IPL this season.
Kings XI Punjab
Looking at the KXIP side on paper, one has to say to this is the year the men in red will finally get the monkey off their back and clinch the trophy.
Much like Royals, the KXIP side boasts depth, variation, balance and X-factor in their lineup. The major strength of Kings XI Punjab this season is the number of Indian Internationals in the side.
The likes of Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, captain Ashwin, and triple centurion Karun Nair form the spine of the team.
Further, the inform Mayank Aggarwal, the experience of Manoj Tiwary, and raw pace of Ankit Singh Rajpoot are some of the salient features of the team.
It is only fair to say that KXIP has the strongest Indian lineup and would be a force to reckon with this season as a team can use only four overseas players at a time.
The addition of Chris Gayle at his base price came in as a bonus for Preity Zinta & co. Andrew Tye’s guile at the backend will remain a quintessential factor for the team. Hard-hitting batsmen David Miller and Aaron Finch are the stars in the batting front.
Australian International and another find of the BBL, Ben Dwarshuis provides the balance with both bat and ball. Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Zadran will provide the X-factor in the series.
KXIP should reach the playoffs comfortably as the team has got all bases covered. They start off as yet another favourite to lift the trophy.
The champion combination of Gautam Gambhir and Ricky Ponting might see the Daredevils clinching their maiden IPL trophy. Daredevils have a star-studded line-up, containing both domestic and international stars.
Delhi Daredevils boasts the likes of Rabada, Maxwell, Munro, and Morris in their lineup, who would walk into any T20 team. Further, the presence of Jason Roy, Dan Christian, and Trent Boult as back up, only speaks volume of the depth in the side.
The X-factor in the team will be provided by a rookie from Nepal, Sandeep Lamichhane. The Daredevils possess a plethora of stars in Indian cricketing circuit.
Namely, Pant, Iyer, Shami, Amit Mishra, U19 stars Shaw and Kalra, Vijay Shankar, Shahbaz Nadeem, Naman Ojha, Gurkeerat Singh and Jayant Yadav.
Looking at the side on paper, DD must qualify into the playoffs and even win the tournament, powered by the captaincy of hometown legend Gautam Gambhir and coaching from three-time world winning Aussie, Ricky Ponting.
The Sunrisers’ came out of the 2-day auction elated as they managed to retain a mammoth core of their roster from the previous season and enriched their side with few seasoned campaigners from the other franchises.
SRH, unbelievably, retained Warner, Bhuvi, Rashid, Dhawan, Kaul, Hooda, Williamson, Nabi, Jordan, Bipul Sharma, and even Ricky Bhui, who were all responsible for their successful campaigns in the by-gone seasons.
Furthermore, arguably the best allrounder in the world, Shakib-al-Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, and Indian stalwarts Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey will be featuring in the Hyderabad side.
The successful mentorship of VVS Laxman and Tom Moody makes SRH a force to reckon with this season. Therefore, one might be surprised if the Warner-led side doesn’t make it to the playoffs and win their second title.
Teams who miss out
The format of the IPL allows only four teams to progress into the playoffs. Which also means that four teams won’t make it to the next round.
With the injuries of Chris Lynn and Andre Russell and suspect action of Sunil Narine, KKR squad currently is looking frail at the batting front.
The look of the side gives a bowling-heavy impression and lack of pedigree in the batting department, thereby, causing imbalance.
Even though it is a bold assumption to make, KKR might languish at the bottom of the table if they don’t find suitable replacements for their retained players.
The return of the Chennai Super Kings has been one of the most eagerly awaited events this year. However, with the kind of squad CSK has this time around, the absence of exuberance of youth is starkly visible.
The likes of MSD, Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson, and Imran Tahir are at the twilight of their careers. Raina, Rayudu, Jadhav, Bravo and Du Plessis are all above 30. Also, the bone injury to Santner might well be a major blow to their campaign this season.
Mumbai Indians, renowned for going in with heavy bids, turned out to be conservative this time. Therefore, came up with an average side.
In their attempt to retain the likes of Pollard, and Krunal Pandya, MI lost a substantial amount of purse. It will be surprising if the Rohit Sharma-led team manage to reach the playoffs.
RCB always possessed a star-studded lineup but could not clinch a coveted trophy. Even though they have a serious-looking bowling lineup this time around, it would be surprising if they reach the playoffs, due to the sheer quality and balance of the other sides.