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IPL-7: How the 8 teams stack up

Last updated on: April 15, 2014 18:02 IST

IPL-7: How the 8 teams stack up

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Harish Kotian

As the Indian Premier League's seventh edition gets underway, Harish Kotian finds out how the teams measure up this season.

The Indian Premier League’s seventh edition begins in the UAE on Wednesday. Like previous seasons, the Twenty20 cash-rich extravaganza is sure to enthrall fans for the next month-and-a-half.

Last year, Mumbai Indians gave batting icon Sachin Tendulkar the perfect farewell by winning their maiden title. This year too they look good for a repeat, having retained key players and adding more quality players to their squad in the IPL Players Auction in February.

But, as always, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings go into the tournament as one of the favourites, while Royal Challengers Bangalore’s batting might makes them one of the early contenders.

There’s no discounting the other teams too, as Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are looking to make a statement with their smart player buys.

We take a look at how the teams stand ahead of the tournament.

Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians completed a grand double last year, winning the IPL and Champions League T20 titles. This year, with a line-up comprising a good mixture of experience and youth, they start as one of the favourites.

They may might have lost out on the experience of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, but made up for it by buying veteran Michael Hussey, who will form an integral part of their batting line-up.

Hussey, 38, was the highest run-scorer in last year’s IPL with 733 runs, including six fifties, in 17 matches, for Chennai Super Kings, and should prove a reliable purchase.

- Check out the squads

Captain Rohit Sharma will look to continue his good run in the IPL from last year, while Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh are capable of winning matches on their own.

New Zealand’s Corey Anderson, who blasted the fastest century in ODIs, off just 36 balls, earlier this year, will be the player to watch out for in Mumbai Indians’ squad.

And with the experience of Zaheer Khan and Pragyan Ojha in the bowling attack, Mumbai Indians appear to have all the areas covered.

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Image: Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma
Photographs: BCCI

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Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings had to endure a lot off the field after last year’s IPL fiasco, which saw their team principal, Gurunath Meiyappan, being arrested for his alleged role in the IPL betting scandal.

The two-time champions will be keen to answer their critics with some good performances.

- Check out the squads

Like Mumbai, they also retained the maximum number of players (five) before the auction in February. They have the strongest spin bowling attack in the tournament, including India’s top two spinners - Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – and West Indian Samuel Badree, who impressed in the World T20, with 11 wickets from five matches, at an economy rate of 5.65.

Brendon McCullum, who scored a century in the first match of the inaugural edition in 2008, will be CSK’s player to watch out for.

Then, there’s skipper Mahendra Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Dwayne Bravo, who are all capable of destroying any bowling attack on their day.

The fast bowling department, comprising India pacer Mohit Sharma, New Zealand’s Matt Henry, Ishwar Pandey, Ashish Nehra, and Ben Hilfenhaus among others, though, looks a bit on the weaker side.

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Image: MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina reveal the new Chennai Super Kings jersey
Photographs: Twitter

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Royal Challengers Bangalore

Since the inaugural edition in 2008, Royal Challengers Bangalore have always promised plenty but failed to deliver. This year they look even stronger and set to win their maiden title.

T20 is all about big-hitters, and they have them in Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh.

Yuvraj was bought for a massive 14 crore and RCB will be hoping he shrugs off his dismal showing with the bat in the World T20 final and bounce back with something special with both bat and ball.

- Check out the squads

Their bowling is a big question mark; the retired Muttiah Muralitharan is the most experienced, and Australian Mitchell Starc the only regular international bowler.

Albie Morkel is a useful bits and parts player, but the quality of his bowling has waned in recent years.

Much will depend on how the West Indies’ Ravi Rampaul and speedster Varun Aaron, who recently made a comeback into the Indian team, perform.

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Image: Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli
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Delhi Daredevils

Delhi Daredevils went in for a complete overhaul this season, opting not to retain any players from the previous season.

England discard Kevin Pietersen will lead the new-look squad, which has some good T20 players in JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Ross Taylor and Jimmy Neesham.

Fast bowler Mohammed Shami will be the player to watch out for following consistent performances for India in the last year or so across all formats.

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The spin department looks on the weaker side, with only Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Sharma the frontline spinners.

The owners spent Rs 12.5 crore on Dinesh Karthik and are pinning hopes on him delivering the goods.

Murali Vijay, Saurabh Tiwary and Manoj Tiwary offer plenty of options as far as Indian batsmen are concerned.

If the batting clicks and the team gels as an unit, the Daredevils can go far in the tournament.

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Image: Kevin Pietersen at the Delhi airport
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Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals have handed the captaincy to Shane Watson and the Australian’s performances are going to be crucial to their hopes this season.

Rajasthan retained five players ahead of the IPL auction in a bid to retain their key performers from last season. Ajinkya Rahane, Watson, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson got the backing of the franchise.

The player to watch out for is Australia’s batting ace Steven Smith, who has been in good form recently.

- Check out the squads


Then there is New Zealand’s Tim Southee, who is quite handy with both bat and ball in T20 cricket.

Brad Hodge, 39, will lend the much-needed experience and solidity to the batting following Rahul Dravid's retirement, while Stuart Binny will be keen to show his potential after failing to get enough games while on international duty.

On paper, Rajasthan don’t boast of many match-winners, but it would be foolish of the other teams to take them lightly. Besides, history is on their side. Can one forget how they upset the form book to win the crown in 2008, and their inspiring showing last year?

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Image: Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Watson
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Kings XI Punjab

Kings XI Punjab surprised many by the decision to retain unknown local player Manan Vohra and South Africa’s David Miller.

But they made some pretty good buys at the auction, including Australia’s top fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, and T20 specialists Glenn Maxwell and Thisara Perera.

Australia’s George Bailey will lead the team, which also includes Virender Sehwag, who is desperate to make a mark after a poor season in domestic cricket.

- Check out the squads

Cheteshwar Pujara is also keen to prove himself in the T20 format after being tagged a Test specialist.

The player to watch out for is Shaun Marsh, who first made a name for himself in IPL 2008. He was the leading scorer in the inaugural edition of the league with 616 runs.

Experienced spinner Murali Kartik can also be a handful with the ball, while the Ranji Trophy’s top wicket-taker Rishi Dhawan will look to justify his price tag of Rs 3 crore.

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Image: Kings XI Punjab mascot Rocky
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Kolkata Knight Riders

More than putting his team back on track, captain Gautam Gambhir will look to score runs to pave the way for his return to the Indian team.

Sunil Narine will be KKR’s key player, as he has the ability to win matches on his own with his bowling.

The rest of the bowling attack wears a weak look otherwise, though Morne Morkel, Pat Cummins, Umesh Yadav and R Vinay Kumar are useful all-rounders who can contribute.

- Check out the squads

It remains to be seen if KKR’s decision to buy back Jacques Kallis will turn out to be a sensible move. Yusuf Pathan will be keen to make an impact with the bat after a poor showing last year, while Andre Russell, Ryan ten Doeschate and Shakib Al Hasan are capable of putting in good performances with both bat and ball.

Much will also depend on how the young batting trio of Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Surya Kumar Yadav perform on the big stage.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad

Sunrisers Hyderabad brims with explosive batsmen capable of destroying bowling attacks on their own.

Led by Shikhar Dhawan, Hyderabad have the dangerous Australian opening duo of Aaron Finch and David Warner.

The fast bowling department, led by pace ace Dale Steyn, is formidable. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan and Jason Holder are both fast and wily on sub-continent wickets.

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Then, there’s leg spinner Amit Mishra who showed his prowess in the World T20. He is the player to watch out for. He has another leggie for company in Karn Sharma, who was bought for Rs 3.75 crore.

Sunrisers will also be looking for good contributions from the West Indies’ Darren Sammy, a big hitter and very good finisher in the T20 format, as he proved in the World T20. So is Australia’s Moises Henriques.

Last year, they were the surprise pack in the IPL and made their way past the group stage to the qualifiers. This year too they look good to go the distance.

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Image: Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Shikhar Dhawan
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