Indian Premier League has all been about unpredictability and thrilling contests right from its inception. No one had expected that Shane Warne’s underdogs (Rajasthan Royals) would win the 2008 inaugural edition sweeping away pre-tournament favourites Chennai Super Kings.
MS Dhoni’s Chennai, however, have lived up to their star billings winning the IPL thrice, just one time less than Mumbai Indians who themselves have turned around the table multiple times to cling on title.
As years passed, IPL has exhibited more stiff competition with only the last day of the league ensuring playoff spots in the last four seasons.
In the face of pandemic, the 13th edition has been shifted to neutral venue in the UAE where on Saturday teams winning the most number of titles clash in the curtain-raiser. The neutral venues in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai itself will suggest that IPL this year is going to be even more competitive and unexpected.
List of Indian Premier League Winners
|Mumbai Indians||Chennai Super Kings||2019|
|Chennai Super Kings||Sunrisers Hyderabad||2018|
|Mumbai Indians||Rising Pune Supergiants||2017|
|Sunrisers Hyderabad||Royal Challengers Bangalore||2016|
|Mumbai Indinas||Chennai Super Kings||2015|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||Kings XI Punjab||2014|
|Mumbai Indians||Chennai Super Kings||2013|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||Chennai Super Kings||2012|
|Chennai Super Kings||Royal Challengers Bangalore||2011|
|Chennai Super Kings||Mumbai Indians||2010|
|Deccan Chargers||Royal Challengers Bangalore||2009|
|Rajasthan Royals||Chennai Super Kings||2008|
Long layoff and neutral venue
Following a long break forced by Corona Virus, a majority of players have not been involved in competitive cricket since the game to a halt in March.
England did host West Indies, Pakistan and Australia in their home series and the Windies cricketers did get themselves involved in the Caribbean Premier League. But the IPL allows only four international recruits in their playing XI which means there will be less players who are fresh from competing in big tournaments.
Additionally, the tournament will be played only at three neutral venues suggesting the pitches will be worn out as the event progresses on. The pitches will be expected to support bowlers in the latter stages of the game and batsmen are bound to struggle. IPL is ready for yet another surprise.
How do the teams look?
Chennai Super Kings
With the controversial departure of IPL legend Suresh Raina and veteran off spinner Harbhajan Singh, Chennai seem depleted but with MS Dhoni leading the side, they are still the tournament favourites. Chennai are full of options with their domestic cricketers and have players with huge experience among the international recruits.
Murali Vijay and Faf du Plessis are expected to open for them with Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu and Kedhar Jadav holding the firepower in the middle order. Shardul Thakur is going to be a key allrounder for them. Chennai will have to do a lot of scratching over their selection of four foreign players.
With Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Dwayne Bravo boasting experience, they also have Mitchell Santner, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood and Sam Curran in the list. Even without Raina and Harbhajan, Chennai look the strongest side of the tournament.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians look a star-studded side, both domestically and internationally but its their foreign recruit who look big time match winners. Mumbai have splashed chunk of their cash in Kieron Pollard, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan Coulter-Nile Quinton de Kock, Trent Boult, Chris Lynn and James Pattinson.
Windies Pollard and Aussie Chris Lynn are the hot shots in global Twenty20 franchise leagues while McClenaghan and Boult are two experienced campaigners with the ball. They also have match winners in skipper Rohit Sharma, Aditya Tare, Hardik Pandya, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahr, Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli’s Bangalore have long worn tag of chokers in the Indian Premier League. Despite being the best team in the tournament, they have not won the IPL so far. Kohli and retired South African AB de Villiers form the nucleus of Bangalore batting but whom will they chose as their foreign picks remains a big question.
Bangalore also have Aussie captain Aaron Finch who will be expected to open the innings with Kohli. With another South African Chris Morris also capable of playing big shots with the bat, big foreign names like Dale Steyn, Adam Zampa and Moeen Ali might have to spend time in dug out.
Bangalore have local spinning options in Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal, while Umesh Yadav along with Navdeep Saini will be their prime pick. Since Moeen Ali recently rediscovering himself in the shorter version and is capable of bowl, it will be big ask for Bangalore think tank in choosing their foreigners. Additionally, there is Aussie prospect Josh Philippe waiting on the wings.
Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders are among the two teams who have managed to come out of the shadow of the dominance from Mumbai and Chennai. Their skipper David Warner has been pivotal in Hyderabad’s rise as a formidable force in the tournament although they have won IPL only once.
Hyderabad missed out on the final of 2018 edition but they form a strong squad with a mix of decent local and international players. Jonny Bairstow, Warner and Kane Williamson form the core of their batting, while Afghan leggie Rashid Khan has always posed real threat ever since he began his IPL adventure.
They will expect a lot from experienced Manish Pandey and U-19 talent Abhishek Sharma along with seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Basil Thampi. Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Wriddhiman Shah and Shreevats Goswami are the names that have already settled in the tournament.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will be led by Dinesh Karthik for the second time and will look for their third title. Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan are probably the biggest names in Knight Riders squad.
But they will have to wait how much has Russell recovered after his unusually calm Caribbean Premier League campaign following injury.
Young domestic fast bowling prospect Kamlesh Nagarkoti will continue to wait for his turn after suffering a long injury, while another former U-19 middle order batsman Shubman Gill will expect to contribute to their cause. Provided their domestic seamers don’t click, Kolkata might have to completely depend on Lockie Ferguson and Cummins.
The biggest wait for inaugural champions Rajasthan will be the availability of their captain Steven Smith who was hit by ball during practice in England and suffered a minor concussion. Smith is desperate to get the green signal to hit the ground and form a lethal force with three other foreign recruits in the squad.
David Miller, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler are three other major signings for Rajasthan who are going to miss the services of influential England allrounder Ben Stoke. Stokes is currently in New Zealand where he is with his father Ged who has been undergoing treatment for brain cancer.
Stokes can only make his presence felt in the second half of the tournament provided his father undergoes a stable treatment. Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye and Tom Curran are other foreign recruits. Veteran Robin Uthappa, Jayadev Unadkat, Rahul Tewatia, Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror and Ankit Rajpoot are the domestic players upon whom Rajasthan will mostly count on.
Kings XI Punjab
Under KL Rahul, Punjab form a decent squad which relies more on batting. The biggest boost for Punjab is the presence of Twenty20’s Universe Boss Chris Gayle but at 40 will the Jamaican be able to carry on is the biggest question.
Mohammad Shami, Sheldon Cottrell and Jimmy Neesham are their fast bowling option but once again it will be all about choosing the best four foreigners in the side. For Punjab, Glenn Maxwell is the prime pick because of his recent form and past exploits with the franchise, while Afghan mystery spinner Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman is the only major slow bowler.
As Nicholas Pooran has also been the biggest hit in the format, Punjab team management have the biggest task of balancing the playing XI. Gayle, if he fails, might have to be on the sidelines. It won’t be the first time for him, however.
Sarfaraz Khan, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Harpreet Brar, Deepak Hood and U-19 spinner Ravi Bishnoi are their other major domestic pick.
Under new captain Shreyas Iyer, Delhi are actually the resurgent team of IPL. They reached the playoffs in the previous edition and will now look to go better this time and win the trophy.
The Delhi squad looks very familiar with exciting domestic and international talents itching to get their chance and it all looks a chaos in selection for them. Delhi have been bolstered by the arrival Ravichandran Ashwin but he not the major spin option.
They also have Axar Patel, veteran Amit Mishra, Harshal Patel and Nepali star Sandeep Lamichhane where one failure might cost dear. Delhi’s batting is built around domestic players in Shikhar Dhawan, Risabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas himself.
Marcus Stoinis is the biggest allrounder in the side, while Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Keemo Paul, Mohit Sharma providing options in fast bowling. Alex Carey and Shimron Hetmyer are two other major signings for them with Anrich Nortje and Daniel Sams also knocking the doors.