In a parallel world where IPL teams start playing Test Cricket is the fantasy that every cricket fan would like to see getting fulfilled and rightly so. Test Cricket is the best and the oldest format of the game and by far, the most interesting one. It requires grit, determination and high levels of fitness to see yourself get through five days of intense and hard-fought cricket.
T20 cricket is totally opposite as anyone can turn up with a match-winning performance on any given day and hence no real predictability. The Tests, on the other hand, is about playing with attrition and though it is deemed to be slow at times only a real cricket fan can understand the joy of watching it.
At CT we have prepared a ranking of the IPL 2019 teams if they had played Test Cricket instead of T20s and it’s interesting to see who comes out on top. Tests Cricket has its own ups and downs and one must not look too closely into it as it is purely for those fans who fantasize their favourite IPL teams in those traditional whites.
8. Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
You might be wondering how a team so explosive can find themselves at the bottom of the pile, all because of a format change? It’s a no brainer really as KKR lack a complete squad and specialist bowling attack which a team needs to pick 20 wickets in Tests. While KKR’s squad remains largely incomplete, they do have a few decent resources at their disposal and if they’re used well enough, they can wreak havoc.
The franchise has some good and innovative players in Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine, and Andre Russell. However, there is still a huge doubt whether the likes of Narine and Russell will play the longest format.
While only two or three well-established players in Tests are present in the KKR camp, the other players are experienced enough in the first-class circuit. KKR’s main strength is its batting and their spin bowling. One should expect them to do well on slow tracks which are a bit tricky to score runs on. A good pool of all-rounders should provide their squad with some stability.
However, this squad is incomplete as they lack a number of things in a quality pace attack and a specialist Test cricket opener. Expect KKR to turn up with a few unpredictable performances but not to expect is better.
7. Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
CSK would not be counted as the favourites this time around as they have the oldest overall side in the competition and naturally, they lack the fitness required to sustain five long days of intense cricket. The Men in Yellow have got an impressive pool of experienced veterans and talented youngsters who know what it takes to succeed in the toughest format of the game.
MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, and Dwayne Bravo, can win games on their own and are always the players to watch out for whenever they take the field. While CSK’s main strength lies in the vast pool of experience and their batting, their bowling is a cause of concern for them. One can expect them to dominate in batting-friendly conditions but a good bowling attack wins you Test matches.
They have the captain cool at the helm but even he was helpless during his India captaincy stint when the team didn’t have the bowlers delivering consistently. CSK might put up a stunning fight but they are unlikely to win many Test matches against the other teams.
6. Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
The Punjab based franchise led by Ravi Ashwin have this knack of starting well but losing their way as the tournament proceeds. It happened last year and it returned this time around too. KXIP pride themselves on their batting strength, their top order in particular. But one would doubt the same when it comes to playing the longest format.
However, they do possess a decent middle-order on paper. They have quite a few established international stars in Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, David Miller, Andrew Tye, Mohammed Shami and their skipper Ashwin. But again, like it happened with KKR, not many of these players fit into the Test set-up.
They have three bowlers in Shami, Sam Curran and Ashwin who can trouble the opponents with the red ball. But a potent four or five-man bowling attack is a must to win in whites and they might struggle in that aspect. Also, with the bat, they lack hard-grinders like Cheteshwar Pujara or even Murali Vijay who can tire out the opposition bowlers.
Again, the Ashwin-led side will definitely put some of the teams under extreme pressure at times, but they will certainly struggle to close out the matches and post decent totals on the board with the bat.
5. Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
The most successful IPL team, Mumbai Indians might find themselves in a bit of bother with a change in format as they lack the overall temperament to sustain five days of Test Cricket. While it may come as a shocker to a few, it’s not really a breathtaking fact if one was to look closely.
MI have plenty of resources when it comes to match-winners and that’s the reason that they are 4-time IPL champions. Their core is solid and stable and that’s the reason for their success. They have proven Test match players in Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Quinton de Kock and to some extent, Rohit Sharma. But they don’t have an out and out spinner who can hold one end to give a breather to their pacers.
Not many know how the likes of Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar or Mayank Markande will perform with the red ball and clearly, this aspect will haunt them in the whites. Expect Mumbai Indians to try very hard in terms of notching up wins and they might even do it on the back of some excellent individual performances. But when it comes to facing the top teams, they will definitely struggle.
4. Delhi Capitals
Delhi Capitals. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
Delhi Capitals impressed everyone with their show this season and though Mumbai Indians won the title, they were the team to watch out for. The Capitals have got the youngest group of players and their skipper Shreyas Iyer is only 24 years old which means that this team is filled with some potential future superstars.
While the team is relatively young and dynamic, they do not have too many established stars. But their bowling looks the most stable and there is a wide scope of potential in the batting department. They have got a good set of players in Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada. While their bowling looks sorted, Delhi’s inexperienced batting line-up might be a cause of concern for them but fearlessness is their strength.
DC is an exciting team and is one to look out for in the coming future. Test Cricket with them would be fun as they have the core of Indian batting future in their squad. Given the fact that they have the bowlers who can potentially pick up 20 wickets almost in every game, the Capitals have a chance to sneak into the playoffs at the fourth position.
3. Sunrisers Hyderabad
Sunrisers Hyderabad. (Photo: IANS)
The Hyderabad based franchise has always punched above its weight and have always started the competition as the underdogs. However, the case might be different this time around as they would start as one of the favourites and they would welcome a change in format with open arms.
A quality filled Sunrisers’ side will not only embrace Tests but also show how to dominate it. Various international stars in David Warner, Johnny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ensures a solid starting XI. They would be expected to be consistent throughout the course of the Test match and go about their business with a balanced approach.
They have a little issue with their bowling attack as only Bhuvi, Rashid and Shakib look potent to make an impact with the red ball. One would argue the presence of Billy Stanlake but nobody knows how much he’s fit for the Tests. However, the trio of decent domestic bowlers in Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma and Basil Thampi will have to take up the role if and when they get an opportunity.
The Orange Army in whites will certainly be a potent force to reckon with and should be able to make it to the top four easily and not many will argue with it.
2. Royal Challengers Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore. (Photo: IANS)
Well, here we go! The RCB will be one of the top sides in the Tests courtesy of some of the world-class resources they possess. Their captain is the World’s best Test batsman and if not in the T20s, they are certainly a team to beat in the longest format of the game.
RCB have a plethora of batting options to chose from and not to forget, their pace attack is one of the best. They have got many Test suited players and those who have established themselves for their respective country. A line-up containing Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Tim Southee, Moeen Ali, and Colin de Grandhomme is the one you usually don’t want to come up against.
RCB have always been a batting heavy group with a patchy bowling unit to back them up, in the T20s. But when it comes to bowling with the red ball, they are the beast. One can expect them to notch up big wins on their way to the top two. Only a small chink in their armoury is a brilliant spinner who can spin a web around the batsmen on turning tracks. Yuzvendra Chahal doesn’t boast of an experience to play Tests while Moeen Ali is an all-rounder.
Having said that, the overall set-up looks extremely good and they should definitely live up to the expectations at least in this format.
1. Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals. (Photo: IANS)
The Rajasthan based franchise hasn’t quite lived up to their reputation in the past couple of years (since their comeback) and their performances haven’t been up to the mark. RR has got a good blend of players which would make them a formidable force if they were to ever compete in Test cricket.
A good load of radical and defensive players is what makes the double R’s a favourable side to top the test rankings among the 7 other IPL teams. Rajasthan Royals possess some wonderfully crafted players whose game is suited best for the longest format of the game. They have the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Ish Sodhi in their arsenal. And add to it some of the brilliant domestic players as well.
A balanced batting line-up with a good amount of defensive players ensures that their line-up can survive on a green top as well. Quality batsmen like Rahane and Smith are a threat to any team on any day and they have the capability of playing a marathon knock every now and then, which might save games for them and win them aplenty.
Dhawal Kulkarni can share the new ball with Jofra Archer while a decent back-up pacer is needed. Ben Stokes can bowl but his workload should be managed as he bats too. Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal are the two superb spinners and the bowling unit looks potent enough to pick 20 wickets.
No wonder, they will top the table and topple most of the sides in the tournament. Going by this order, an enthralling finale between the Royals and the RCB could be on the cards.
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