IPL 2024: Team previews, SWOT analysis and predictions

Chennai Super Kings: The team’s strength lies in its deep batting order, with Deepak Chahar, no mug with the bat, coming in as low as No. 9

CSK’s bowling strategy will revolve heavily around Moeen Ali, Mitchell Santner and Ravindra Jadeja, who will look to thrive in Chepauk’s favourable conditions

Prediction: Anything less than a playoff spot should be considered a failure for CSK. A final and a sixth title is definitely within the reach of Super Kings

Delhi Capitals has a formidable batting line-up on paper, boasting overseas talent like David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, who are complemented by Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw and Axar Patel

The squad also features promising domestic talent such as Kumar Kushagra, Ricky Bhui, and Abishek Porel, along with overseas backups Shai Hope and Tristan Stubbs

Prediction: Last year, Delhi Capitals’ middle-order, without Pant, struggled with an average of 17.47 and a strike rate of 117.20. While an improved showing with the bat could turn their fortunes around, Capitals are unlikely to secure a top-four finish

Gujarat Titans: After Hardik Pandya’s successful stint as captain in the last two seasons, the reins are now handed to Shubman Gill, the Orange Cap holder (890 runs in 17 matches) from the previous season

However, challenges loom with the absence of last year’s Purple Cap winner Mohammed Shami due to injury

Prediction: Having dominated the group stages in the past two seasons, Titans now need to navigate the challenges posed by the absence of proven match-winners

Kolkata Knight Riders: The team opted for a significant overhaul of its pace battery, securing the services of Australia’s Mitchell Starc for a record ₹24.75 crore, making him the most expensive player in IPL history

Shreyas Iyer’s return allows the left-handed Nitish Rana to take on a more aggressive role at No. 4, followed by the explosive duo of Rinku Singh and Andre Russell

Prediction: The return of Iyer and Gautam Gambhir as mentor, acquisition of key players at the auction, the astute leadership of Pandit, and Rinku’s impressive form, all suggest the all-round promise could propel another title tilt

Lucknow Super Giants: Speculation intensifies around whether Rahul will retain his opening spot or shift to the middle order, possibly eyeing an audition for the T20 World Cup in June

Despite Quinton de Kock’s impressive 500-run season in 2022, his position was usurped by Kyle Mayers in the subsequent year. The acquisition of Devdutt Padikkal has now created a surplus of top-order options

Prediction: Uncertainties surrounding the middle order and the absence of a solid international pacer raise concerns about Super Giants’ playoff qualification chances this year

Having previously captained Gujarat Titans, Hardik Pandya has significant leadership experience, which will be buoyed by MI’s cricketing acumen, on and off the field

This was evident in the team’s recent acquisitions during the auction, such as South Africa’s fast-bowling talent, Gerald Coetzee, and Sri Lanka’s Dilshan Madushanka

Prediction: Mumbai is one of the most well-balanced teams in IPL 2024, giving it a strong chance of winning a record-equalling sixth title

Punjab Kings: Captain Shikhar Dhawan, past his prime, might face challenges, and opener Prabhsimran Singh’s plateaued performances add to PBKS’ concerns

Harshal Patel, along with Arshdeep Singh and Kagiso Rabada, aims to improve the Kings’ high conceding rate of 11.25 runs per over in the death overs

Prediction: Punjab Kings, once in contention for the playoffs last season, needs a firing first eleven to succeed this year. However, any signs of trouble could disrupt the team combination, leading to a familiar, underwhelming end

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Much like in the past, RCB remains a batting-heavy team, with the balance tilting towards its top order, consisting of skipper Faf du Plessis, Kohli, Rajat Patidar and Glenn Maxwell

The team made headlines by acquiring Australian all-rounder Cameron Green, slated for the No. 5 position and providing du Plessis with an extra pace-bowling choice

Prediction: RCB’s hardcore fans will want nothing but a maiden title. But their dreams look likely to be dashed again after their side failed to plug a few glaring holes in the auction

Rajasthan Royals: A noteworthy shift for RR this season is its emphasis on recruiting specialists rather than all-rounders, with only three in its ranks – R. Ashwin, Parag, and Abid Mushtaq

This underscores the significance of the Impact Player rule. Given Royals’ penchant for innovative strategies, fans can anticipate unconventional decisions

Prediction: Royals knew they had a strong squad before the auction and focused only on securing backups for each role. This could be the season when the 16-year-old wait for silverware ends

Sunrisers Hyderabad: The team faces a conundrum after the significant signing of Pat Cummins, dealing with an abundance of overseas players. Choosing Markram might mean missing out on players like Heinrich Klaasen and Glenn Phillips

Additionally, only one among Marco Jansen, Fazalhaq Farooqi, or Wanindu Hasaranga may find a spot in the playing XI, with Hasaranga having an edge due to the existing Indian pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik, and T. Natarajan

Prediction: While the team appears strong on paper, coach Vettori will be cautious after last season’s disappointments. If he can strategically align the players and tactics, the 2016 champion has the potential to secure a spot in the playoffs