Hasn’t IPL been the talk of the town quite frequently over the last two years? Well, we are not complaining.
The IPL is back, bigger than ever, in its usual summertide glory. After two years of autumnal episodes owing to the pandemic, the IPL comes back to India, igniting fanbases across the country. It’s time for the drums and the horns, the music and the mania, the fables and the fever and certainly, cricket and its carnival.
For the second time, through its 15 editions, it will feature 10 franchises through 70 group stage matches in a double round robin format. While the trophy rests in the familiar camp of the Chennai Super Kings, this edition flavoured with stewed anticipation is certain to bring in unfamiliar battles, following the mega-auction reshuffle.
With familiar faces on new pastures and the young brigade taking charge, when it is the IPL, we sure can close our eyes and bet on the characteristic drama that each match brings, as the 15th chapter of the story unfolds over the next couple of months. Outside the known camps, the two new franchises, Lucknow Supergiants and Gujarat Titans, look to initiate their journey and script a story for themselves, having worked the hype pretty well over the last few weeks.
The Telegraph looks at how the camps have shaped up for the season, and what might be the crucial factors that come into play.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Captain: Shreyas Iyer
Coach: Brendon McCullum
Riding on the last edition’s unparalleled mojo, the King’s Men in all their glitz and glamour would look to dominate the tables from the first day itself, where they open the campaign against CSK. Going through a major restructuring, KKR handed over the reins of the team to top buy Shreyas Iyer in whom KKR have one of the most dependable batters with tactical acumen.
Along with the southpaw marvel Venkatesh Iyer, whose meteoric rise has been lauded across the country, and Nitish Rana, new inclusions of Sam Billings, Aaron Finch and veteran Ajinkya Rahane, KKR have bolstered up their top order. The middle order under the care of Dre Russ, Narine and the lethal Cummins look to be in absolute safe hands.
When it comes to the bowlers, it is hard to find a better spin duo than Sunil Narine and Varun Chakraborty and seam department under the watchful protection of Cummins, Southee, Mavi and Umesh Yadav. With a number of uncapped Indian players finding themselves on the roster, it will be interesting to see how McCullum fiddles with the squad while keeping the camaraderie intact. KKR will surely be the camp to watch out for.
Fresh X-factors: Shreyas Iyer, Sheldon Jackson
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Captain: Ravindra Jadeja
Coach: Stephen Fleming
Ravindra Jadeja with M.S Dhoni
After 14 sensational seasons, CSK have a new person receiving the baton, as Dhoni handed over captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja, marking the end of an era. While the defending champions have retained and bought back their synonymous core of Dhoni, Rayudu, Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, the clever fresh inclusions make it boast of a strong roster. With a combination of a stable Devon Conway and Ruturaj leading the batting order, the experience on the team sheet will always give Chennai an edge over other franchises.
A solid cocktail of left-right hand combinations of anchoring batters and pinch hitters, and players like Moeen Ali and Uthappa who can shuttle between both roles, Chennai’s batting arsenal can always be the factor turning the tide in their favour. With Chris Jordan, Milne, Santner and a fresh set of young bowlers, it will be interesting to see the options that they go for. On the other hand, Deepak Chahar’s absence might prove to be a big blow to the yellow army.
Fresh X-factors: Devon Conway, Rajvardhan Hangargekar
Captain: Rishabh Pant
Coach: Ricky Ponting
The air around the Delhi Capitals tables at the auction this year was proof enough of the mood. The camp is buzzing and for the right reasons. Along with the familiar dynamic trio of Pant, Prithvi and Patel, Delhi managed to rope in an enviable range of players brimming with energy. Along with the addition of the ever-dependable David Warner, the foreign additions boast of names like Mitchell Marsh, Rovman Powell, Mustafizur Rahman, Ngidi and Tim Seifert.
The bowling department woven around star bowler Nortje, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Kuldeep, Nagarkoti and Sakaria will have a space for tactical experimentation. With an incredible squad depth and well-crafted balance between the batting and bowling units, Delhi have yet again managed to remain a formidable force, hoping to end the play-offs curse and reach for the trophy this year.
Fresh X-factors: David Warner, Shardul Thakur, Yash Dhull
Captain: Mayank Agarwal
Coach: Anil Kumble
When it is Punjab, it is entertainment guaranteed. Led by the seasoned Mayank Agarwal, Punjab went for a complete squad overhaul. The first name that leads the list is no stranger to craze — Shikhar Dhawan. With Mayank and Dhawan, Punjab is assured of one of the most dependable left-right hand opening combinations.
The foreign roster comprising powerful names like Johnny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith and Kagiso Rabada, Preity Zinta’s men are looking to go all guns blazing this year. U-19 World Cup sensation Raj Bawa promises to be Punjab’s freshest weapon this year, with a fearsome batting line-up. Rabada will spearhead the bowling attack with the likes of Chahar and Arshdeep Singh adding to the game.
Fresh X-factors: Shikhar Dhawan, Raj Bawa, Odean Smith
Captain: Sanju Samson
Coach: Kumar Sangakkara
The Royals have always had it the regal way and the new squad does more than justice to the tag. Sanju Samson retains the reins, while star wicket-keeper batsman Jos Butler keeps guard. Royals snapped up wonder boy Devdutt Padikkal at the auction, ensuring a brilliantly composed opening duo with Jaiswal or Butler. Royals brought home perhaps the strongest bowling options with the names of Ashwin, Boult, Chahal, Coulter Nile and Jimmy Neesham under the same banner. Adding to this list comes the pace duo of Navdeep Saini and Prasidh Krishna.
While somebody like Shimron Hetmyer would be a worrisome middle order hitter for the bowlers out there, the batting and bowling departments with equal experience and clinical presence look to concoct something magical for the Royals this season. It’s Jos and Ashwin on the same team. Bring in the explosions.
Fresh X-factors: Devdutt Padikkal, Trent Boult, Rassie van der Dussen
Captain: K.L. Rahul
Coach: Andy Flower
For the Supergiants, it a fresh new chapter. The team is being led by the man of all seasons, K.L. Rahul. To form the opening duo, the franchise roped in the destructive Evin Lewis and Quinton de Kock, who would be followed by Manish Pandey and Vohra.
With a refined middle order comprising hitters Deepak Hooda, Stoinis, Holder and Krunal Pandya, the Supergiants have managed to put together a very strong batting unit. The bowling attack having last season’s star bowlers Avhesh and Bishnoi, brings together a calculated force with equally promising spin and pace options.
Fresh X-factors: K.L. Rahul, Marcus Stoinis, Avesh Khan
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
Captain: Faf du Plessis
Coach: Sanjay Bangar
Faf du Plessis
It’s about time RCB end the blues and gear up to take home the trophy. Despite having line-ups dotted with stalwarts through the 15 seasons, the trophy has always eluded them. With ABD retiring and Virat Kohli relinquishing captaincy, there has been major shift in the team dynamics. The tenacious Faf taking charge, and a roster with the names of Kohli, Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik would hardly seem like one that would falter.
Having bought Wanindu Hasaranga for a staggering Rs 10.15 crore, RCB have their hopes pinned on his and Shahbaz Ahmed’s magical spin bowling spells which could do the trick if a batting line-up consisting of the experienced and the young and fresh like Rawat and Lomror deliver consistently. Alongside key factor Harshal Patel, Siraj and Hazlewood would look to floor the batters with sheer brute pace.
Fresh X-factors: Faf Du Plessis, Shahbaz Ahmed, Josh Hazlewood
Captain: Rohit Sharma
Coach: Mahela Jayawardene
No strangers to the silverware, Mumbai Indians have a roster, which if harnessed properly might prove to challenge the other teams with their usual elan. However, this time it is not the star-studded sight that we have always associated the franchise with. Jayawardene’s project revolving around scouted local talents could work wonders if a stable playing XI gets going for the team.
With Rohit and the auction’s costliest buy Ishan Kishan leading the force, the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Pollard would look to be their familiar explosive selves. New foreign buys like Tim David, Daniel Sams, Fabian Allen and Dewald Brevis could all potentially contribute significantly to the side, with the bat. Leading the bowling department would certainly be Bumrah, along with new additions like Tymal Mills, Unadkat and Murugan Ashwin.
Fresh X-factors: Tim David, Murugan Ashwin
Captain: Kane Williamson
Coach: Tom Moody
For a team having Tom Moody, V.V.S. Laxman, Muttiah Muralitharan and Dale Steyn comprising their coaching staff, SRH promises a wild season ahead. Kane Williamson has always defined composure and captaincy, and thus when he leads his team on to the pitch, a thousand fans pin their hopes on this one man. New inclusions, including Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran and Rahul Tripathi, secure the batters’ list leading up to the middle order. Alongside that, with strong bowling options of Bhuvi, Washington, Umran Malik and Natarajan, SRH will look to capitalise on the powerplays to paint the games in their favour.
Fresh X-factors: Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram
Captain: Hardik Pandya
Coach: Ashish Nehra
There’s always the debutant’s charm that works marvels. Gujarat Titans have a team that look justifiably strong on paper but need all the elements to work in tandem, for them to make it to the play-offs. Led by the fiery Hardik Pandya, the fresh roster has a batting line-up consisting of Shubman Gill, Matthew Wade and David Miller. Star bowlers Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan, along with Lockie Ferguson, can rattle the stumps once it clicks. The team will be missing big-hitter Jason Roy, who has been replaced by Rahmanullah Gurbaaz.
Fresh X-factors: Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Rashid Khan