The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a mere two months away. The excitement surrounding the cash-rich T20 league is well and truly on an escalation. Five weeks back, the auction for the 2020 season of the IPL took place in Kolkata. All eight teams tried to fill in the loopholes that they had in the previous season.
A total of 62 players were bought in the auction. 189 players across eight teams will be a part of the IPL 2020. There was a lot of assessment done post the auction which was in December 2019. Going into the auctions, the franchises had the massive challenge of filling their potholes, roping in some utility players in their ranks.
Here we look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of each side for the upcoming 2020 season of the IPL:-
1. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Year after year, it feels like surely this is the time for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to finally lift the IPL cup. However, every season, expectation turns into disappointment. RCB are perennial underachievers and haven’t won a single IPL title so far.
As always, this time around they have a good squad as well. And it is their batting which stands out once again. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers will be the pillars but they have enough firepower around them as well. Parthiv Patel and Aaron Finch are experienced guys at the top while there is Devdutt Padikkal who hasn’t put a foot wrong in this domestic season. Shivam Dube, Moeen Ali and Chris Morris in the lower middle order to provide some impetus at the death.
They have some good bowling resources as well. However, like almost every season, death bowling remains a concern. There are the likes of Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj as Indian options but barring Saini who also tends to blow hot and cold, none of them are great at the death. Chris Morris tends to leak a few at the death as well while Dale Steyn is a bit up and down as well.
2. Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
Here is another team that has had 12 title-less seasons in the IPL and have made it to just one final. Over the last couple of seasons, they’ve had a pattern of fizzing out towards the end. In fact, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle haven’t had enough support from the middle order. However, KXIP seem to have plugged that hole now.
They have a strong top order. The Rahul-Gayle pair is a deadly opening combination with Mayank Agarwal and Glenn Maxwell to follow. The middle-order doesn’t look bad either and they have well-rounded batting depth. But KXIP lack in the Indian pace bowling department. Barring Mohammed Shami, they don’t have any big names or experienced bowlers.
The likes of Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel and Harpreet Brar are all in the early stages of their careers. Moreover, if KXIP play Gayle, Maxwell, Pooran or Mujeeb as three of their overseas players, they will need to field Indian pacers and they might be found wanting in that aspect.
3. Delhi Capitals (DC)
A change in name worked wonders for Delhi last year. They made it to the playoffs of the 12th season of the IPL for the first time since 2012. Yet, they did some heavy trading and shopping in the last six months, including the IPL auction.
One of their biggest strengths is that they’ve got a strong Indian core. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma are some of the big names. In fact, Delhi could make an XI out of the Indian players.
But that’s a weakness as well. They are spoilt for choice with every position. Thus, it may affect the balance of the team and it may lead to players playing out of position. Moreover, overseas players may not get to play at their desired slots and that may have an impact as well.
4. Chennai Super Kings (CSK)
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) simply find a way to win. Irrespective of their strengths and weaknesses, the MS Dhoni-led franchise somehow find ways, dig out paths to reach the top of the mountain. They retain a large part of the squad and bought just four players in the auction this time.
One of the trolls CSK get is being a ‘Dad’s army’ with most players 30+ in age. However, there is no substitute to experience and some of the CSK players have played a lot of T20 cricket and are very experienced. The likes of Dhoni, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja and many more have all played a lot of T20 cricket in their career.
CSK also have some holes and the fast bowling department is definitely on top of that list. The three-time champions have five proper fast bowlers – Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood and KM Asif. Barring Chahar, none of them are proper T20 specialists and have struggled. While CSK’s spin attack has enormous depth, their fast bowling cabinet doesn’t look that promising.
5. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)
Ever since they made their IPL debut in 2013, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have always performed consistently well. Not a lot of people have noticed but they’ve made it to playoffs four successive times. In fact, ever since the playoffs system was introduced, they are the only team who has won the IPL after finishing outside the top two.
Their overseas stars have been one of the big reasons why they’ve done well. The likes of David Warner, Kane Williamson, the Afghan superstars Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan and lately, Jonny Bairstow have done exceptionally well and have been the driving force more often than not. They form a solid and dynamic core.
However, most of those are batsmen who bat at the top of the order. Even last season, SRH were too reliant on their top-order and if the likes of Warner and Bairstow fail, the batting tends to collapse. They have the likes of Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar but Pandey likes batting in the top four where there’s little room and Shankar is yet to prove himself in the IPL. Hence, the middle order looks pretty thin despite their presence.
6. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) became the biggest talking point of the auctions for the 2020 season. They bought Pat Cummins for a record INR 15.5 crore, making him the most expensive overseas player in the history of the IPL. They also got a couple more big names like Eoin Morgan and Tom Banton.
Despite these additions, their biggest strength lies in the firepower of the middle order. You look at that batting order and you’d see some fine T20 players. Andre Russell is the powerhouse and is one of the most vital cogs of that batting line-up. Dinesh Karthik is a fine finisher while Nitish Rana has proved that he can get the job done. And now, KKR have Morgan as well. Hence, that’s a power-packed middle-order.
But KKR lack a quality and experienced Indian batsman. They have Shubman Gill at the top of the order and Nitish Rana in the middle but they don’t have enough backups. There are the likes of Rinku Singh, Rahul Tripathi and Siddesh Lad but they are inexperienced and are yet to prove themselves.
7. Mumbai Indians (MI)
If you take a look down the Mumbai Indians (MI) squad, there’s hardly any hole or weakness. They have a powerful squad and seem to have almost every base covered. They are arguably and statistically the best team in the history of the IPL.
One of the biggest reasons for that is season after season, they have enough depth and backups for almost every key slot. This time, it’s no different. They have enormous depth for this season as well. They have multiple game-changers and look the strongest side. In fact, they have some players who may not even make the XI and are good enough to make most T20 sides in the world.
However, if there is one small problem, then it has to be the spin department. They have just four spinners in their squad and don’t have enough quality options. Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar are expected to start but they have only Anukul Roy and Jayant Yadav as backups.
8. Rajasthan Royals (RR)
There was a perception about Rajasthan Royals (RR) about them being subdued, especially in the auctions. However, since their return in 2018, they have spent a lot of money on players over the last couple of years. RR have some of the biggest stars in their ranks.
Their strength lies in their overseas options. Be it batsmen, bowlers or all-rounders, RR have some quality overseas options. Steve Smith will lead the side while the England trio of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are the most likely starters. They have some very good overseas options with the ball as well. Tom Curran, Andrew Tye and Oshane Thomas are good backups along with David Miller in the batsmen’s category.
But their strength can be their weakness as well. RR are pretty dependent on their foreign players. After trading Ajinkya Rahane and Krishnappa Gowtham, they are short on experienced Indian players.
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