It’s here! Like it does every year, the Indian Premier League (IPL – schedule) has crept up on us. Most players are in India already, thanks to the World T20, but those who aren’t, are now en route. As they would say in Pune, सावकाश ये रे बाबा.
I’m going to India today…
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) April 4, 2016
Two new teams will take their place alongside old ones. The Rising Pune Supergiants and the Gujarat Lions will replace the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals. Minor changes have happened to the teams, but by and large, the older ones are holding on to their key players and the ones that give their teams the identity.
While it’s still too early to start crowing about who’s going to win (we’re still getting over the World T20 final!), on paper, the Rising Pune Supergiants have a great chance. And no, not just because we’re from Pune!
For one, the MS Dhoni – Stephen Fleming combine is a settled one. They know each other and they have a fair few players from the erstwhile CSK setup. Then, there’s Steve Smith. And Kevin Pietersen. And R Ashwin. And Ajinkya Rahane. And Ishant Sharma. And Mitchell Marsh. And Faf du Plessis. That’s a powerful team. And Faf and Ashwin were with Dhoni at CSK. So, yay! Asoke Dinda is back in Pune colours. Well, you can’t win ’em all!
Here’s a quick threat analysis of the other teams
Noisy neighbours, Mumbai Indians
Should be a threat given they’re defending champions and all that. Possibly the most balanced team with a plethora of all-rounders. Key threats – Rohit Sharma, Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya, Keiron Pollard, Lendl Simmons. Ricky Ponting is a coach. So, yeah, threat.
Not-so-Royal Challengers Bangalore
They are always a threat with Virat, de Villiers and Chris Gayle in their ranks. Also helps for them to have Samuel Badree, the best T20 spinner. Shane Watson has also found a home here and would be the reliable all-rounder.
Will-the-sun-rise on Sunrisers Hyderabad
These guys have been around a while, but have stuttered along. Shikhar Dhawan will lead David Warner, Yuvraj Singh, re-born Ashish Nehra, heartbroken Eoin Morgan into battle. Hoping this season has them looking more organised than before. And because, Orange!
Kolkata Knight Riders, smile please
Led by perennially angry Gautam Gambhir (why so serious?), they look the weakest team on paper. With Gambhir, Andre Russel, Shakib al-Hasan, Yusuf Pathan (?) and Morne Morkel as their biggest stars, they need local talent to really make a difference this season. Hai koi?
Priety’s King’s XI Punjab
With the second-most visible cheerleader in their dugout (remember SRK?), the KXIP team has a few loyalists. Mostly Aussie. Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell will join Murali Vijay and David “Killer” Miller in their attempt to win the title. Looks tough since the local talent has let them down previously.
Rajasthan’s neighbours, Gujarat Lions
This is a surprise package. They have some serious firepower. Suresh “low on confidence” Raina will captain a talented crew including Dwayne “Chaampion” Bravo, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, (Sir) Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon “Mad Max” McCullum and Dale Steyn. Hand-to-our-heart, this team is the strongest.
After Pune. Real chance.
Delhi (legspining) Daredevils
They’ve had their ups and downs. Now led by Zaheer Khan and mentored (what’s that anyways?) by the great Rahul Dravid, they have an outside chance. Key players that need to fire – Carlos “4 Sixes” Brathwaite, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Imran “sprinter” Tahir and our very own leggie Amit Mishra. Come to think of it, no team should have a right-hander face their bowling attack!