IPL teams: Strength on paper doesn’t really matter

Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore appear the strongest among the teams for IPL 2017. This does not, however, guarantee success.

Ben Stokes, the most expensive pick (Rs. 14.5 crore) at the 2017 IPL auction, will be seen in Rising Puner Supergiants colours.   -  REUTERS

On paper, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore appear the strongest among the teams for IPL 2017. This does not, however, guarantee success. It is essential to get the balance of Indian and foreign players right, where each member of the eleven is assigned a fixed role. The big names may win a match or two single-handedly, but this is not the ideal formula if a franchise hopes to go all the way.

Here is a look at how the teams stack up:

Delhi Daredevils

Unlike most other squads, Delhi Daredevils leans more towards bowling prowess than batting exploits. In South African Kagiso Rabada (bought for ₹5 crore in the auction), Patrick Cummins and Chris Morris, the franchise boasts of a potent foreign pace trio. On the domestic front, Mohammed Shami — provided he recovers in time from his injury — will pair up with the wily, experienced Zaheer Khan to do seam duties. Zaheer, however, has not had a bowl in a competitive match since IPL 2016, which could go against him. Hard-hitting all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite arrives with a big reputation. In the World T20 final last year, the Barbados cricketer tonked Ben Stokes in an epic finish to carry his side to a memorable title-triumph. Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews completes the list of star players. Sanju Samson and Karun Nair will be tasked with shoring up the batting line-up, which looks a tad underwhelming.

Delhi Daredevils believes in having a strong bowling side, and to this end, has bought Kagiso Rabada for Rs. 5 crore.   -  Getty Images


The team: Angelo Mathews (SL), Corey Anderson (NZ), Kagiso Rabada (SA), Patrick Cummins (Aus), JP Duminy (SA), Quinton de Kock (SA), Sam Billings (Eng), Chris Morris (SA), Carlos Brathwaite (WI), Ankit Bawne, Aditya Tare, Murugan Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Shashank Singh, Mohammed Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Shreyas Iyer, Zaheer Khan, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, C. V. Milind, Syed Ahmed and Pratyush Singh.

Gujarat Lions

Gujarat will look to India stars Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja to lead from the front. While Raina carries an incredible IPL record, Jadeja has shown himself to be a capable player in all three formats of the game. Dashing Englishman Jason Roy will be expected to provide the fireworks at the top of the order. New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is likely to take guard along with Roy, which will be a real treat to watch. McCullum has retired from international cricket, but recent stints in the Big Bash League and Pakistan Super League means that he is far from rusty. Australian James Faulkner could hold the key to the side’s fortunes. Faulkner has the ability to finish matches with the bat, as well as befuddle opposition hitters with his clever left-arm medium pace.

The team: Jason Roy (Eng), James Faulkner (Aus), Brendon McCullum (NZ), Dwayne Bravo (WI), Aaron Finch (Aus), Dwayne Smith (WI), Andrew Tye (Aus), Chirag Suri (UAE), Nathu Singh, Basil Thampi, Tejas Singh Baroka, Manpreet Gony, Munaf Patel, Shelly Shaurya, Shubham Agarwal, Pratham Singh, Akshdeep Nath, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Ishan Kishan, Pradeep Sangwan, Shivil Kaushik, Shadab Jakati, and Jaydev Shah.

Kings XI Punjab

All eyes will be on Tamil Nadu left-arm pacer T. Natarajan, who was bought for a hefty Rs. 3 crore at the recent auction. Natarajan has built up a reputation of being a death-over specialist, but it remains to be seen if he can rise up to the pressure of performing on the big stage. Fellow-fast bowler Varun Aaron (Rs. 2.5 crore) uses sharp pace to get the early breakthroughs. Punjab will hope, however, that Aaron can maintain control over his line and length.

England T20 captain Eoin Morgan shoulders the bulk of the batting responsibilities. Martin Guptill and Glenn Maxwell give the franchise the much-needed marauding traits required to rack up the big totals. Australian batsman Shaun Marsh, a steady hand who has tasted great success in his previous IPL stints, will be expected to hold the Punjab innings together.

The team: Eoin Morgan (Eng), Matt Henry (NZ), Darren Sammy (WI), Martin Guptill (NZ), David Miller (SA), Glenn Maxwell (Aus), Shaun Marsh (Aus), Marcus Stoinis (Aus), Hashim Amla (SA), Rahul Tewatia, T. Natarajan, Varun Aaron, Rinku Singh, Manan Vohra, Axar Patel, Gurkeerat Singh, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Wriddhiman Saha, M. Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Mohit Sharma, K. C. Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer, Pradeep Sahu and Swapnil Singh.

Kolkata Knight Riders

In Chris Lynn, KKR possesses one of the cleanest hitters in the sport today. The Australian opener has smashed the bowlers to all parts in the Big Bash League a few months ago, but a neck injury has laid him low since. He is expected to regain full fitness in time for the IPL. Karnataka-lad Manish Pandey lends teeth to the batting order, along with the experienced Gautam Gambhir. Overall, with the exception of Lynn, the unit lacks the firepower needed to quash an attack. On the bowling front, spinners Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan lead the way. Narine — variations and all — is tough to read, while the disciplined Shakib is capable of keeping the runs in check. Trent Boult (Rs. 5 crore), Chris Woakes and India international Umesh Yadav form a formidable pace attack.

Trent Boult, the potent left-srm New Zealander full of zeal, is in the Kolkata Knight Riders team after a price deal of Rs. 5 crore.   -  AP


The team: Trent Boult (NZ), Chris Woakes (Eng), Rovman Powell (WI), Darren Bravo (WI), Nathan Coulter-Nile (Aus), Sunil Narine (WI), Shakib Al Hasan (Ban), Chris Lynn (Aus), Rishi Dhawan, Sanjay Yadav, Ishank Jaggi, Sayan Ghosh, Gautam Gambhir, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson and Ankit Rajput.

Mumbai Indians

Not for the first time, the Mumbai Indians squad is stacked with real match-winners. English limited-overs king Jos Buttler, West Indian giant Kieron Pollard, India international Rohit Sharma and Sri Lankan sensation Asela Gunaratne form a mighty explosive list of hitters. It came as a surprise that Gunaratne — he scored a blistering 84 not out in 46 balls to take Sri Lanka to a T20 series victory over Australia just a couple of weeks ago — was sold for just Rs. 30 lakh. This is a bargain that could very well go in Mumbai’s favour. Jasprit Bumrah is a handful with the ball in his hand, sending down yorkers at will. His partner, Lasith Malinga — who earlier this month, made his comeback to international cricket after a year — is a perennial threat as well. Mitchell Johnson and Tim Southee add to the plentiful fast bowling options.

The team: Nicholas Pooran (WI), Asela Gunaratne (SL), Mitchell Johnson (Aus), Kieron Pollard (WI), Lasith Malinga (SL), Lendl Simmons (WI), Mitchell McClenaghan (NZ), Jos Buttler (Eng), Tim Southee (NZ), K. Gowtham, Karn Sharma, Saurabh Tiwary, K. Khejroliya, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal, R. Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel, Nitish Rana, Siddhesh Lad, J. Suchith, Hardik Pandya, Jithesh Sharma, Krunal Pandya and Deepak Punia.

Rising Pune Supergiants

RPS claimed the prize catch of Ben Stokes in the IPL auction, for a whopping Rs. 14.5 crore. The Englishman’s ability with both bat and ball is beyond doubt. M. S. Dhoni — he gave way to Steve Smith as skipper — remains a master finisher with bat. A clean stroke-maker, Smith is also quite capable of turning a match on its head, as he has shown on several occasions in the past. South African captain Faf du Plessis is an intimidating presence in the middle order. Spinner R. Ashwin is the only standout bowler on view. The franchise’s fortunes could be affected by this absence of penetration with the ball.

The team: Ben Stokes (Eng), Dan Christian (Aus), Lockie Ferguson (NZ), Steve Smith (Aus), Faf du Plessis (SA), Mitchell Marsh (Aus), Adam Zampa (Aus), Usman Khawaja (Aus), Jaydev Unadkat, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Kumar, Milind Tandon, R. Tripathi, Manoj Tiwary, M. S. Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, R. Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Jaskaran Singh, Baba Aparajith, Deepak Chahar and Mayank Agarwal.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

For a night of pure entertainment, head over to watch an RCB encounter. The irrepressible Virat Kohli, backed by the equally thrilling combination of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, makes for compelling viewing. Kedar Jadhav — India’s latest batting hero — joins in the revelry. The addition of England left-arm speedster Tymal Mills is a welcome move. The pacy Mills, bought for Rs. 12 crore, is a more than adequate replacement for Mitchell Starc. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, whose six for 25 haul against England recently gave him the best T20 international figures for an Indian, is a much improved bowler than seasons past. South African left-arm chinaman exponent Tabraiz Shamsi — known for his extravagant celebrations — fits right into this franchise packed with flair.

The team: Tymal Mills (Eng), Billy Stanlake (Aus), AB de Villiers (SA), Chris Gayle (WI), Adam Milne (NZ), Shane Watson (Aus), Samuel Badree (WI), Travis Head (Aus), Tabraiz Shamsi (SA), Pawan Negi, Aniket Choudhary, Praveen Dubey, Virat Kohli, K. L. Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, S. Aravind, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Iqbal Abdulla, Sachin Baby and Avesh Khan.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

The core of the team which did wonders last season remains intact. David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan became the most successful opening partnership in IPL history (they crossed 1,500 runs together), powered primarily by Warner’s exceptional form. Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (23 wickets) picked up the Orange Cap, while Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman scalped 17 victims. This all-round unit will fancy its chances to record a repeat triumph. The defending champion made history when they picked the Afghanistan duo of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan Arman in their squad for this year. Both Nabi and Rashid will be keen to ensure that their nation’s record at the IPL gets off to a smooth start.

The team: Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Rashid Khan Arman (Afg), Chris Jordan (Eng), Ben Laughlin (Aus), David Warner (Aus), Moises Henriques (Aus), Kane Williamson (NZ), Ben Cutting (Aus), Mustafizur Rahman (Ban), Tanmay Agarwal, Ekalavya Dwivedi, Pravin Tambe, Mohammed Siraj, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Naman Ojha, Ricky Bhui, Siddarth Kaul, Bipul Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh, Abhimanyu Mithun, Barinder Sran, Deepak Hooda and Vijay Shankar.