The Indian Premier League (IPL) has taken off with the first game between two Group B teams Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans. While there have not been wholesome changes in the two teams, many big players have made it to the squad and given it a different look. Apart from the Titans and Superkings, this group also includes Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings.
Here, we try and look at how the teams have turned out to be for this season, what are the new inclusions and how will these resources help them going forward in the league.
Chennai Super Kings: Thala Dhoni aiming to achieve the improbable
Captain- MS Dhoni
Squad- MS Dhoni (c/wk), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Subhranshu Senapati, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Dwaine Pretorius, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Tushar Deshpande, Mukesh Chowdhary, Matheesha Pathirana, Simarjeet Singh, Deepak Chahar, Prashant Solanki, Maheesh Theekshana, Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes, Shaik Rasheed, Nishant Sindhu, Sisanda Magala, Ajay Mandal, Bhagath Varma
The second-most successful franchise in the richest cricket league, which has built itself on the motto of survival of the fittest, has a captain leading them at the age of 42 and with no active cricket behind his back for the last two years.
MS Dhoni and his team are out to achieve the improbable. Will MSD bat in the top order or only arrive at the crease during a catastrophe and handle the game from behind the stumps is yet to be seen.
Ravindra Jadeja was appointed the captain last season but he gave it up mid-season after the results didn’t go the way of the yellow army. Rumours suggested that he might even part ways with the team eventually, but that did not happen. He is back at the Kings’ castle and with him is yet another match-winning all-rounder added to the lineup- Ben Stokes.
With Ben Stokes available, Deepak Chahar fit and ready to run, and Bravo, Uthappa and Chris Jordan released, the Chennai side have done enough to avoid major hiccups in the tournament. They still lack a solid Indian fast-bowling option to accompany Chahar and Stokes given that Mukesh Choudhary’s fitness is yet not 100 per cent.
Apart from the second Indian pacer, the yellow brigade has all its boxes ticked and look ready to get back in the top four once again.
Gujarat Titans: High on expectations, Titans prepared to take off
Captain- Hardik Pandya
Squad- Hardik Pandya (c), Shubman Gill, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan, Darshan Nalkande, Jayant Yadav, R. Sai Kishore, Noor Ahmad, Kane Williamson, Odean Smith, KS Bharat, Shivam Mavi, Urvil Patel, Joshua Little, Mohit Sharma
The Hardik Pandya-side is expected to deliver once again now that they have a trophy behind their name already in their debut season, Heading into the second one, the Gujaratis around the world and more than 70,000 inside the Narendra Modi Stadium would be wanting nothing less than 100 per cent from their players.
The Titans let go of Lockey Ferguson and Jason Roy. While the Kiwi was traded to KKR, Roy was removed altogether. In the new inclusions, the Gary Kirsten-led think tank has brought in Kane Williamson, Shivam Mavi, Odean Smith, Srikar Bharat and Joshua Little to the table.
Ashish Nehra, the bowling coach talked about a left-arm pacer and Little fulfils that criterion, Bharat is probably Wriddhiman Shaha’s replacement as a keeper and Mavi will most probably partner Shami at the top of the bowling order.
This planning leaves no gaps at all in the Titans' battery and they look all set to conquer the opposition again.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Maybe this time around, the fortunes will turn
Captain- Faf du Plessis
Squad- Faf du Plessis (c), Virat Kohli, Suyash Prabhudessai, Rajat Patidar (doubtful), Dinesh Karthik, Anuj Rawat, Finn Allen, Glenn Maxwell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Shahbaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, David Willey, Karn Sharma, Mahipal Lomror, Mohammed Siraj, Josh Hazlewood, Siddarth Kaul, Akash Deep, Reece Topley, Himanshu Sharma, Michael Bracewell, Manoj Bhandage, Rajan Kumar, Avinash Singh, Sonu Yadav
Bangalore is a side that has looked great on paper in most seasons but has been unable to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the trophy every single time as well. This time around though, they did not shop frantically and chose to stick to their core.
They bought just seven players and out of them their costliest buy, Will Jacks will not be available for them this season. However, they have brought in Michale Bracewell as his replacement and he is in the red hot form to suit the plans of the red and gold. Reece Topley, a left-arm pacer, very necessary in today’s T20 scenario has also been added to fill in the gaps that were left open last season.
Among the releases, the RCB let go of West Indian Sherfane Rutherford, making this the smoothest season so far in terms of players' entry and exit.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: New leader and almost a new team in the making
Captain- Aiden Markram
Squad- Aiden Markram (c), Abdul Samad, Rahul Tripathi, Glenn Phillips, Abhishek Sharma, Marco Jansen, Washington Sundar, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Kartik Tyagi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T. Natarajan, Umran Malik, Harry Brook, Mayank Agarwal, Heinrich Klaasen, Adil Rashid, Mayank Markande, Vivrant Sharma, Samarth Vyas, Sanvir Singh, Upendra Yadav, Mayank Dagar, Nitish Kumar Reddy, Akeal Hosein, Anmolpreet Singh
The Sunrisers Hyderabad are a team in the rebuilding phase having let go of their entire golden generation which once saw them in back to back to playoffs five times from 2016 to 2020.
In this new leadership, Aiden Markram will be the man leading the troupe and he has at his disposal the likes of harry Brook, Glenn Phillips, and Rahul Tripathi in batting and Umran Malik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Marco Jansen and Kartik Tyagi in bowling. The all-round abilities of Abdul Samad and Washington Sundar will play a crucial role in the team’s abilities too.
The Orange brigade looks young, dynamic and slick on paper. But will they be able to convert this potential into results on the ground is yet to be seen.
Punjab Kings: Will Raza and Curran come to the rescue of Punjab’s dwindling ship?
Captain- Shikhar Dhawan
Squad-Shikhar Dhawan (c), Shahrukh Khan, Matthew Short, Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma, Raj Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Nathan Ellis, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Sam Curran, Sikandar Raza, Harpreet Bhatia, Vidwath Kaverappa, Mohit Rathee, Shivam Singh
Punjab Kings have tried to look smart as far as the pre-season is concerned. They have bought Sam Curran at a very high sum but compensated for that by getting Sikandar Raza very cheap given the kind of form he is in right now. Apart from these two players, they did not buy much and added just four Indian players to complete the squad.
They have let go of their skipper from the last season, Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan have taken his place. Expensive Odean Smith and experienced Sandeep Sharma were also released. In the transfer window to they bought no one, meaning that they are heavily dependent upon the two players in Raza and Curran.
Will this ploy of their work, or will it backfire only time can tell? But they are not the hot favourites going into the tournament and that might just work in their favour.