The 15th edition of the IPL could see the emergence of new stars. Gone are Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla. Some promising youngsters, who could rule Indian cricket in the next decade, have entered the IPL galaxy.
With new-look squads at their disposal, it is time to look at where the franchises stand in terms of their advantages and disadvantages.
Strength: The defending champions went into the auction with a definite plan: not splurging on the stars and instead concentrating on the utility players. They kept faith in the template that has rewarded them so far. Eight of the 11 CSK players who featured in the IPL 2021 final are still with the franchise. Deepak Chahar, bought for Rs 14 crore, was their most expensive buy and it was perhaps necessitated once they failed to get hold of Shardul Thakur. Devon Conway is expected to successfully fill in for Faf du Plessis and form a solid opening pair with Ruturaj Gaikwad. The middle-order also looks settled and experienced with the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Robin Uthappa. In Shivam Dube, they have a promising all-rounder while Adam Milne is expected to be a good replacement for Josh Hazlewood.
Weakness: Though they have roped in several young guns, the average age of at least six of their first-choice players is around 33.
Costliest buy: Deepak Chahar (Rs 14 crore)
Strength: The Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise spent bulk of their Rs 48 crore purse on Pat Cummins, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana and Shivam Mavi. This could be the reason why they gambled on a few unknown youngsters who were lapped up at their base price. Their middle-order looks prone to committing mistakes while they might have to leave out Sam Billings as wicketkeeper from the XI if they decide to play Alex Hales as an opener. How a Baba Indrajith or a Sheldon Jackson performs is open to debate. Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy’s performance could decide their fortunes while the fitness of Andre Russell will be closely monitored. Cummins’ performance with the bat and ball will be crucial. Ajinkya Rahane will provide leadership support to Shreyas.
Weakness: The back-up line-up seems too inexperienced and the side could be let down by lack of batting firepower in the lower order.
Costliest buy: Shreyas Iyer (Rs 12.25 crore)
Strength: The franchise was keen to rebuild their core and bid for the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kagiso Rabada but opted out of the race. They have David Warner, who will be a perfect replacement for Dhawan. With Prithvi Shaw, Warner is expected to form an explosive opening pair. They have Mitch Marsh who can be a good No.4 batter along with the young Mandeep Singh. Anrich Nortje will lead the pace attack with Shardul Thakur, who has been one of their expensive acquisitions. Left-arm quicks in Chetan Sakariya, Khaleel Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman should also provide enough options.
Weakness: The form of Kuldeep Yadav will be a worry while Marsh is prone to injury. Apart from Axar Patel, there’s no worthwhile spinner.
Costliest buy: Shardul Thakur (Rs 10.75 crore)
Strength: Come what may, the Rohit Sharma-led franchise was keen to have Ishan Kishan and Jofra Archer though the latter is unlikely to participate in this edition. Ishan ended up as the most expensive buy of the auction. They acquired most of their players in the closing stages when the accelerated auction began. Besides Archer, they also bid aggressively for Singapore’s Tim David, who has a T20 strike-rate of 159.39. Their strength lies in their top-order comprising Rohit, Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav. There’s also Kieron Pollard and good finishers in David and Fabian Allen.
Weakness: Spin will continue to be one of the weakest links of the team and unless the pacers provide regular breakthroughs they could be in trouble.
Costliest buy: Ishan Kishan (Rs 15.25 crore)
Strength: The franchise has made some good additions to form a solid base. Having retained Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and Mohammed Siraj, they regained Harshal Patel to add strength to their bowling. Josh Hazlewood will provide more wicket-taking options while the likes of Wanindu Hasaranga, Jason Behrendorff and David Willey could form the required back-ups. But the biggest catch was obviously Faf du Plessis, who not only is likely to fill in for De Villiers but will also be in the running for captaincy.
Weakness: The middle-order could be slightly inexperienced with Dinesh Karthik and Maxwell expected to take more responsibility.
Costliest buy: Harshal Patel (Rs 10.75 crore)
Strength: The Anil Kumble-coached franchise put up a superb show at the mega auction. The acquisition of Shikhar Dhawan means they have an admirable opening combination in Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal. Both will also be in contention to lead the side. Besides they have a dependable middle order and a good pace combination in Kagiso Rabada and Arshdeep Singh. Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone are the big hitters in the middle order and are expected to form a lethal combination with the young Shahrukh Khan and West Indies’ Odean Smith. Rahul Chahar provides them good spin option.
Weakness: The bowling will be heavily dependent on Rabada.
Costliest buy: Liam Livingstone (Rs 11.5 crore)
Strength: They retained the core of their batting — Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal. In Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, they possibly have the IPL’s best spin combination after Kolkata Knight Riders. Their pace attack also looks potent with Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna. The addition of Devdutt Padikkal adds strength to their batting along with Shimron Hetmyer and Riyan Parag.
Weakness: Their death bowling could be an issue in the absence of a good sixth bowling option, which will have to be rotated between Parag and James Neesham.
Costliest buy: Prasidh Krishna (Rs 10 crore)
Strength: They seem to be a little short on experience in batting with Kane Williamson having to shoulder most of the responsibility. The captain’s fitness is a cause for worry though he expects to be fit for the IPL. They will have to depend heavily on Rahul Tripathi and Nicholas Pooran to shoulder the bulk of the scoring in the middle overs. In bowling, they have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik and T. Natarajan. Washington Sundar’s presence is going to provide stability in the lower-middle order and the spin department as well.
Weakness: Williamson’s fitness and Bhuvi’s form could be a worry.
Costliest buy: Nicholas Pooran (Rs 10.75 crore)
Lucknow Super Giants
Strength: Mentor Gautam Gambhir has worked wonders at the auction in the franchise’s debut year. The result: They have a good Indian base besides some quality foreign acquisitions. Their batters seem adept at pace and spin and have attractive bowling options. KL Rahul will form a dashing opening pair with Quinton de Kock and the batting has depth. Mark Wood and Avesh Khan will form the core of the pace attack while Ravi Bishnoi will lead the spinners’ charge. They also have a good all-rounder in Jason Holder.
Weakness: Wood’s fitness could be an issue and Avesh lacks experience.
Costliest buy: Avesh Khan (Rs 10 crore)
Strength: The franchise had acquired match-winners in captain Hardik Pandya and Rashid Khan before the auction but didn’t balance their side well in the end. They splurged on Rahul Tewatia, who has done little of late and it remains to be seen if Vijay Shankar and Abhinav Manohar can provide solidity in the middle. It seems like they will depend heavily on Shubman Gill, Jason Roy and Hardik for the runs. Mohammed Shami has been a good addition along with Lockie Ferguson.
Weakness: The balance in the batting order remains a concern.
Costliest buy: Lockie Ferguson (Rs 10 crore)