The Indian Premier League 2020 season is set to begin in March 2020, and for two months, cricket fans around the world are set to be enthralled by a contest between eight strong teams.
Expert IPL predictions has always been a tough job, given the quality of teams in the fray. However, we think that the current champions, Mumbai Indians, will remain the team to beat.
Mumbai Indians added key players at the IPL auction
Let’s look at how the teams fared in the IPL auction, starting with Mumbai Indians. The team led by Rohit Sharma added Mohsin Khan, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, and Saurabh Tiwary at the auction.
However, except Coulter-Nile, others on this list are unlikely to feature in the best potential eleven which should include — other than skipper Rohit Sharma — de Kock, Suryakumar, Kishan, Hardik, Krunal, Pollard, Chahar, Bumrah, and Boult. The eleventh place should be a toss-up between Malinga and Coulter-Nile.
CSK, Sunrisers and KKR consolidated their sides
By comparison, Chennai Super Kings bought Sam Curran, Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazlewood, and R Sai Kishore, with Curran and Hazlewood likely to add value to an already strong, albeit aging, side.
Sunrisers Hyderabad used the auction to induct Mitchell Marsh, Fabian Allen, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Sanjay Yadav, Abdul Samad, and Sandeep Bawanaka, of whom only Marsh and Allen appear likely to challenge for a place in a eleven that is overly dependent on Warner and Bairstow to score the runs.
Another former champion side, Kolkata Knight Riders bought Varun Chakravarthy, M Sidharth, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tripathi, Pat Cummins, Nikhil Naik, Pravin Tambe, Chris Green, and Tom Banton.
Like the other three sides mentioned above, KKR already have a strong eleven, and other than Morgan, the other players bought at the auction are unlikely to be first choices.
The auction has left KKR with a good first eleven, but the bowling is vulnerable. There is undue pressure on Cummins to deliver as the team has only two other bowlers, Sunil Narine and Russell, on whom it can depend to deliver in crunch situations.
Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI look stronger
On paper, if not on the field of play, Rajasthan Royals who won the inaugural IPL in 2008 could challenge for the title. The Royals’ best potential eleven makes impressive reading containing the likes of Buttler, Uthappa, Samson, Smith, Stokes, and Archer.
Kings XI Punjab, who once lost a title encounter to KKR, have managed to get Maxwell back into the side, along with Sheldon Cottrell, the West Indies bowling star. They could make a strong bid, this time around, with the likes of Rahul and Shami also in their ranks.
Delhi Capitals, RCB underperformed at the auction
Another side that has underperformed in recent years, Delhi Capitals, will revel in the inclusion of the likes of Chris Woakes, Jason Roy, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, and Shimron Hetmyer to the team’s line-up.
However, Delhi Capitals failed to get some players the team wanted, including the likes of Curran, Cummins, Morgan and Maxwell. Had these four joined the side, there would have been much better balance.
Royal Challengers Bangalore always had some of the brightest stars of the cricket galaxy. The team will be joined by Kane Richardson, Chris Morris, Dale Steyn, and Aaron Finch.
At the auction, the team management was hoping to reduce dependency on Kohli and De Villiers but got outbid by rival teams. Under the circumstances, the team balance depends on the overseas all-rounder Morris staying match-fit throughout the tournament.
Beating Mumbai Indians will be tough
Overall, the teams that did best at the auction were Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. All three sides boast good balance in their playing elevens. However, the return to fitness of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya could prove the difference between Mumbai Indians and the rest of the pack.
Mumbai Indians’ batting depth needs no introduction: in Pollard and Hardik the side has the men to make a difference in the last five overs of an innings. Bumrah is arguably the best death bowler in the world, with support provided by the likes of Boult and Malinga. Hardik can also contribute with the odd wicket or two.
It is Mumbai Indians’ tournament to lose. Surely, the managements of Super Kings and Sunrisers would recognize this and be busy on plans to upset the defending champions’ applecart in the 2020 edition of the IPL.
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