The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction was a glittering affair and the franchises, yet again, managed to surprise many with their left-field picks. The Australian pacer Pat Cummins was the most expensive pick at the event with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) spending a whopping amount of Rs 15.5 crore. Other players who earned big in the auction were Glenn Maxwell, Sheldon Cottrell and Chris Morris to name a few.
All the teams’ owners and the management looked happy and satisfied with their picks after the auction. To be fair, the eight teams in the competition are looking equally balanced for the first time in so many years and we might be in for a thriller in the IPL 2020. It could well turn out to be the most exciting season ever since the emergence of the cash-rich T20 league.
While it is tough to pick an outright winner or favourite to win the trophy next season, but here we are trying to pick the top four teams who can make it to the playoffs.
Predicting the four teams which can qualify for the playoffs in IPL 2020:
Chennai Super Kings
Many might argue about CSK making it to the top four next year. But make no mistake, they have a plethora of experienced players in the line-up. The franchise has the best captain in the world up their sleeves who is ageing like a fine wine. MS Dhoni knows how to get the best out of his players and he has mastered that art to perfection. With IPL 2020 most likely to be his last, the veteran will be keen to bid adieu on a high without costing his record of taking the CSK to the playoffs every season.
As far as the auction is concerned, CSK picked Sam Curran, Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazlewood and R Sai Kishore. While many eyebrows have been raised over Hazlewood’s inclusion who last played a T20 back in 2016, the other three players will definitely play a part next season. Chawla and Sai Kishore will most likely play at the Chepauk where the ball turns from the word go.
Their line-up rather looked settled even before the auction. With Shane Watson, Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Deepak Chahar, Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo picking themselves in the XI, it will all be about shuffling the other players for CSK according to the conditions. Though age is not on many players’ side, it never mattered for the three-time champions. It should not be a surprise if the Men in Yellow top the league phase next season as well.
Well, going by the hilarious logic of odd and even years, this shouldn’t be the year for the Mumbai Indians (MI). But with the quality players they possess, it will be an aberration for the Rohit Sharma-led side, if they stay at the bottom half of the points table next season. MI is a strong side and the team is a perfect blend of youth and experience and the latter came to their rescue last year in the final.
A strong core of Indian players is always in Mumbai’s favour. The likes of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Rahul Chahar and Ishan Kishan are almost certain to play every game. And then comes the overseas contingent which comprises of Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Quinton de Kock and Trent Boult (traded). Add to it, the explosive Chris Lynn and the retained Kiwi quick Mitchell McClenaghan, the team has enough backups to everyone.
They struggled a bit to come to terms with Kieron Pollard waning form last season. But the West Indies skipper is relishing the responsibility now and is currently in the best possible form which bodes well for the Mumbai Indians. If Malinga fails, they have Boult, Coulter-Nile and McClenaghan to back him up while Lynn is always a dangerous player at the top of the order. MI squad seems to have covered all the bases and frankly, they shouldn’t even sweat to qualify for the playoffs.
Kolkata Knight Riders
This is a team which has splashed out a lot of money in the auction and is looking the strongest among all the eight sides on paper at the moment. They signed Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Chris Green and Tom Banton in the auction. Rahul Tripathi was another good addition to the line-up and the batting line-up can literally go an all-out attack against any team in the IPL next year.
Though one would argue that they lack good death bowlers, the likes of Andre Russell, Morgan and Dinesh Karthik should make it up with the bat most of the times. Their only obsession to open the innings with Sunil Narine might hurt them this season as well if they stick with the ploy.
KKR boasts of proper openers in Banton, Shubman Gill and Tripathi followed by Nitish Rana and the likes of Russell and Morgan at probably four and five. Karthik can always come and play according to the situation. The bowling attack too doesn’t seem to be too bad with Shivam Mavi likely to be fit for the season and Prasidh Krishna also emerging as an improved bowler.
Cummins and Russell will always be there and the franchise also has Pravin Tambe, Sandeep Warrier, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and M Siddharth as backups. KKR looks a well-balanced side and unless injuries to their lead players, the team should be able to make it to the top four.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
As usual, it is expected to be a tussle for the fourth spot to make it to the playoffs next season as well. While the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), much like CSK and MI, looked a strong and settled side, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) might just pip them at the last moment. And this is because of the franchise’s last two picks at the auction in the final moments of the event.
They secured the services of Dale Steyn and Isuru Udana in the final round of the auction for their respective base prices to strengthen their bowling attack. Udana’s stocks have raised over the last 12 months thanks to his exceptional variations in the death overs. His batting is an added advantage as well. And any team would welcome a guy like Dale Steyn. The experience he brings to the table is huge and even if the veteran plays half the number of games given his injury concerns, RCB will take it.
RCB signed another exciting talent in Joshua Phillipe who might probably open the innings as well if they decide to look beyond Parthiv Patel at some stage during the tournament. Phillipe is a brilliant batsman who is doing well currently in the BBL for the Sydney Sixers. They also have the likes of Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers who can take care of the batting.
Chris Morris’ inclusion should bode well for them as far as the death bowling as concerned while Washington Sundar, Chahal, Saini, Umesh Yadav and Kane Richardson round-off a decent bowling attack. Add to it, the presence of Moeen Ali and Devdutt Padikkal and the overall squad seems to be brilliant. RCB has all the ingredients this time round to at least make it to the playoffs and it is up to the management now to make the best use of them.
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