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The world’s biggest and richest T20 competition is back and the expectations of a spectacular tournament will be massive. With the tournament set to be played in India and on time unlike last year’s modified version, we can expect a fantastic tournament with some great cricket to look forward to. With Dale Steyn’s recent comments about the PSL being a better tournament and the IPL being all about money, the organisers as well as the players will be desperate to prove him wrong and provide us with some great quality cricket.
The IPL auction, as always, provided us with some shocks and surprises with some big-name players missing out and some unknown players striking gold, epitomizing what t20 cricket is all about. This year’s IPL will be played over almost two months with eight teams playing each other team twice in the league followed by the two qualifiers, eliminator and the final, hence there will be plenty of matches to enjoy and bet on. The tournament begins on the 9th of April with the final to be played on the 30th of May.
Due to the covid situation in India and globally, the tournament is set to be played at six venues – Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata. The qualifiers, eliminator and final are set to be played at Ahmedabad. This could however change if the covid situation in the country changes and the organisers may decide to hold the tournament at only a couple of venues. None of the teams will have a home advantage, as the matches have been organized in such a way that every match will be played at a neutral venue. Another major factor will be an absence of fans for potentially the entire tournament.
Another auction pick that has set tongues wagging more so because of his famous surname is young Arjun Tendulkar, who will see this more as an opportunity to learn and grow as a cricketer than actually play any major role on the field for Mumbai Indians. On paper and from past history they seem to be the most settled team with no apparent weaknesses led by an extremely astute leader in Rohit Sharma. Bet against them defending their title and completing a hat trick of wins at your own peril.
Full squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Adam Milne, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Neesham, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Marco Jansen, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Quinton de Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Yudhvir Singh Charak
The joint second favourites to win the tournament are two teams that have never actually won the tournament- Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
This will disrupt Delhi capitals’ plans significantly as they not only have lost one of their main batsmen but will now also have to appoint a new captain at short notice. They did however make some good picks at the auction in Steve Smith, Tom curran and Sam Billings. Despite the loss of Iyer the Delhi Capitals batting line up looks very strong with the likes of Dhawan, Pant, Smith, Billings, Rahane and Stoinis in the ranks. With recent Indian test spin twins Axar Patel and R Ashwin leading the spin attack and Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Chris Woakes, Tom curran and Umesh Yadav in the fast-bowling ranks, the bowling bases look covered too.
Delhi Capitals Full squad: Shreyas Iyer (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Chris Woakes, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Lalit Yadav, Lukman Meriwala, Manimaran Siddharth, Marcus Stoinis, Praveen Dubey, Prithvi Shaw, R Ashwin, Ripal Patel, Rishabh Pant, Sam Billings, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Steven Smith, Tom Curran, Umesh Yadav, Vishnu Vinod.
RCB on paper have always looked like the team to beat going into the IPL, however, for some reason have never quite seemed able to translate that into a title win. This year they have plugged some major gaps with some really good auction picks in Glen Maxwell, Kyle Jamieson and Dan Christian, all very good all-rounders.
Add to that a couple of the best batsmen the world has seen in skipper Kohli and AB de Villiers, and some exciting young Indian talent in the form of Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and the seasoned Yuzi Chahal and you’re looking at a title winning side. Will they be able to crack the code this year though is the big question.
RCB Full squad: Virat Kohli (capt), AB de Villiers, Adam Zampa, Daniel Christian, Daniel Sams, Devdutt Padikkal, Glenn Maxwell, Harshal Patel, Joshua Philippe, Kane Richardson, KS Bharat, Kyle Jamieson, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Pavan Deshpande, Rajat Patidar, Sachin Baby, Shahbaz Ahmed, Suyash Prabhudessai, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Kolkata Knight riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad are both billed to be third favourites to win the tournament this year.
Skipper Eoin Morgan’s freak injury during the ODI series against India means he will miss the start of the IPL and it will be interesting to see how that affects their campaign. With the likes of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Dinesh Karthik, Shubhman Gill, Shakib Al Hasan among others in the ranks they will be a force to reckon with. [PL1]
Full squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Karun Nair, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Pat Cummins, Pawan Negi, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Tim Seifert, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravathi, Venkatesh Iyer.
They did not go crazy at the auction, however, they did make a couple of smart choices in another star Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Indian pocket dynamo Kedar Jadhav. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar in red hot form and leading the pace attack alongside last year’s star discovery T Natarajan, SRH have the best bowling line up in the tournament, and this may just take them over the line this year.
Full squad: David Warner (capt), Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jagadeesha Suchith, Jason Holder, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Kedar Jadhav, Khaleel Ahmed, Manish Pandey, Mitchell Marsh, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Priyam Garg, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Virat Singh, Wriddhiman Saha
They have an ageing squad led by captain marvellous MS Dhoni and will take a true Dhoni miracle for them to win this year. While they will be bolstered by the availability of their best players Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja the squad overall lacks the firepower. It would take an extremely brave punter to bet on them this year.
Full squad: MS Dhoni (capt), Ambati Rayudu, C Hari Nishanth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Harisankar Reddy, Imran Tahir, Josh Hazlewood, K Bhagath Varma, K Gowtham, Karn Sharma, KM Asif, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Moeen Ali, Narayan Jagadeesan, R Sai Kishore, Ravindra Jadeja, Robin Uthappa, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Suresh Raina.
The Royals will hope that he replicates that performance and along with fellow English superstars Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, can inspire another miraculous tournament for them. With skipper of the last two underwhelming seasons Steve Smith released, new skipper Sanju Samson will look to make a bright start to his captaincy at RR. They may not be the bookies’ favourites by any stretch of imagination, but they have the talent to be the dark horses of the tournament and might just prove to be a high value punt to make the playoffs.
Full squad: Sanju Samson (capt), Akash Singh, Andrew Tye, Anuj Rawat, Ben Stokes, Chetan Sakariya, Chris Morris, David Miller, Jaydev Unadkat, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Kartik Tyagi, KC Cariappa, Kuldip Yadav, Liam Livingstone, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Mayank Markande, Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Gopal, Yashasvi Jaiswal.
The King’s XI Punjab have decided to change the franchise name to Punjab Kings for this year’s edition in the hope that it will bring a change of fortunes for them. They are the least successful team in the history of the IPL with their best performance being runners up in 2014. They have made some decent purchases at the auction, one of which being the number one T20 batsman in Dawid Malan, however, his effectiveness against spin in India is questionable.
Despite having the mighty Chris Gayle and current Caribbean superstar Nicholas Pooran in the ranks, the King's struggle to convince they can be title contenders and this reflects in the bookies odds. They will struggle to make the playoffs this season unless more than a few of their players have the tournament of their lives.
Full squad: KL Rahul (capt), Arshdeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Chris Jordan, Darshan Nalkande, Dawid Malan, Deepak Hooda, Fabian Allen, Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Jalaj Saxena, Jhye Richardson, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Moises Henriques, Murugan Ashwin, Nicholas Pooran, Prabhsimran Singh, Ravi Bishnoi, Riley Meredith, Sarfaraz Khan, Saurabh Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, Utkarsh Singh.