IPL 2018: Here's an analysis of all the 8 teams competing for the trophy
Former India international and selector Jatin Paranjape analyses all the IPL teams
Skipper: Rohit Sharma
Mumbai Indians (MI) come into IPL-11 with heavy artillery in their batting line-up. New recruit Suryakamar Yadav’s form will be key for MI as he has the ability to win matches single-handedly. He can add some real oomph to the death overs especially if he’s batting along with Hardik Pandya or Kieron Pollard. Pandya will look to add to his natural wicket-taking abilities. He is a good addition to the pace department consisting Pat Cummins and Jasprit Bumrah.
Chennai Super Kings
Skipper: MS Dhoni
Probably the cult team of the IPL, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), back after a two-year suspension, are the strongest team to take the field. They had a fantastic auction, which has made them even stronger. Harbhajan Singh was the best buy. It would have hurt Bhajji after MI let go of him. He will definitely be at his roaring best for CSK. The squad will be stamped by MS Dhoni’s on-field strategy. It is important that Shardul Thakur bowls well and swings it away from the right-handers and into the left-handers. Young Dhruv Shorey may get a few games, but Karn Sharma will be a regular. MSD will also be tempted to play pacer Mark Wood. Overall, CSK have a well-balanced bowling line-up that is capable of being consistent, home and away.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Skipper: Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum and Quinton De Kock as the first four batsmen will be a very comforting thought for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) fans. It also means terror for the opposition bowlers. I will follow McCullum with keen interest. Will he still remain the huge and intimidating force at the top or has time affected his ability? Sarfaraz Khan, a surprised retention, will also be looked at closely. The youngster brings huge audacity to this already irreverent batting order. He could be a terrific force in the last two to three overs. I think Kohli will play three spinners most of the time, and hence Moeen Ali comes into the fray, along with Pawan Negi, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar. Kohli could alternate between Moeen and Tim Southee for the fourth overseas slot in the playing XI. Umesh Yadav brings in real pace and a terrific late away swing which will trouble the opposition openers. Chris Woakes, given the amount spent on him (R7.4 Cr), will probably start the tournament as Yadav’s opening partner.
Skipper: Ajinkya Rahane
Rajasthan Royals (RR) have two major challenges. They need to settle down as a team under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane and they need to get their act together fast if they want to finish in the Top 4. RR have a solid batting line-up with IPL’s most consistent opening batsman in Rahane, who will probably open with Jos Buttler. They also have this IPL’s costliest bowler in Jaydev Unadkat, but their bowling is still a concern, even though Ben Stokes and Unadkat will bowl a lot at the death. The spin department worries me. Shreyas Gopal and K Gowtham are the frontline spinners, but they have never played together for Karnataka in a T20 game this season and they are untested in
Skipper: Kane Williamson
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) is probably the template on how T20 teams are selected nowadays — pack the team with power-hitters and rely on pace variations. Despite missing David Warner this season, SRH have the most aggressive top-order, including Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson, Alex Hales, Manish Pandey and Deepak Hooda. Their bowling lacks real pace, and apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, SRH will rely on World No. 1 Afghan spinner Rashid Khan to provide breakthroughs.
Kings XI Punjab
Skipper: Ravichandran Ashwin
Newly-Appointed Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) skipper R Ashwin will have his hands full in IPL-11. Who will open? I feel Ashwin will give Chris Gayle five to six games to see if he can hit any form. KL Rahul and Karun Nair will have to justify their high price tags. I have my doubts if Nair is actually a T20 batsman, but I hope I am proved wrong. Aaron Finch will be the fulcrum around KXIP’s performance. Given that Mohali is a batting pitch, there could be some tall totals for KXIP to chase. All-in-all, probably the weakest squad of the IPL.
Skipper: Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir will have a burning desire to lift Delhi Daredevils (DD), the most underperforming franchise in the IPL so far. However, their squad selection has left many confused. If A doesn’t do well, we have B — they have followed this policy across too many positions. This is surprising as DD have a think-tank known for its astuteness. Will Jason Roy and Gambhir be the first choice openers? Or will they give young Prithvi Shaw a go? This might give them a chance to play Dan Christian as an all-rounder. Will Chris Morris play above Vijay Shankar? If this happens, Trent Boult misses out. It looks like a lot of experienced cricketers are in danger of warming the benches — Colin Munro, Christian, Naman Ojha. I hope they field Nepal’s young leggie Sandeep Lamichhane early in the tournament alongside Amit Mishra to see if he settles down quickly.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Skipper: Dinesh Karthik
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have the best spin line-up this season — Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav. It’s also a great opportunity for Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik to stamp their authority. They have been fringe players for too long and deserve this stature. KKR will also look to give U-19 star Shubman Gill a chance up the order. They will rely heavily on their R9 crore-plus man — big-hitter Chris Lynn, to get them into the playoffs.
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