As the Indian cricketing domestic extravaganza is almost knocking on the door, speculations have already started building themselves and the world is head-over-heels to argue over the fact that which team will be the potential title-contender? Being candid, this discourse will go on and on unless the final ball of the tournament is bowled as all teams look to be very strong when it comes to pen and paper.
However, it is a validated point that pen and paper don’t win you matches. It needs a lot more than being braggadocio to clinch what is now deemed as one of the cricketing fiestas of the country and in fact, it has now promoted itself to the position of one of the most illustrious franchise tournaments across the globe.
In this story, we will still try and take a dig at who can be the most dangerous team of the imminent IPL, especially when the first ball of the tournament is still to be bowled and every single moniker in the hut seems like a Superman flying with his cape fluttering wildly.
The first team that we will talk about is the one who suffered a shock exit from the preliminary rounds of the tournament for the first time in its glittering antiquity. Chennai Super Kings unexpectedly failed to live up to its exorbitant billing and was bullied by almost every team in UAE. Even, Dhoni failed to kiss the pinnacle that was expected of him and his team followed suit. However, in order to plug the glaring holes which plagued the side in the preceding edition of the tournament, the management brought in the likes of Krishnappa Gowtham, Moeen Ali, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hari Shankar Reddy, Bhagath Verma and C Hari Nishanth. Though the monikers don’t instil a lot of hopes in the Yellow Army, yet the introduction of Pujara intervenes with the likes of a flop Kedar Jadhav. Haplessly, Pujara is deemed as a slow batter in terms of T20 context, yet he can play a crucial anchor in the middle, a role that Chennai was desperate for in the 2020 IPL. The rest of the players will be hopping about the fact that Dhoni can lead a resurgence in the imminent season so that the others can look up to the iconic Indian captain for some hope.
The second team that comes to our mind is an unfortunate Kings XI Punjab, who rode on a late wave of revival only to be refuted in the dying embers of the fray. There were a few naïve decisions taken by the management which saw Chris Gayle being introduced late in the fray and that led to a lot of catastrophes. However, as the Universe Boss came into the picture, the entire paradigm of Punjab’s appearance flipped. Yet, he couldn’t tote the yoke of his team single-handedly and boom! KL Rahul played a few exemplary knocks but once again, in order for a team to win, a team needs collaborated efforts and not individual brilliance. There will be four names that will be a massive catalyst for the rechristened Punjab Kings. The names are Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Dawid Malan and Fabian Allen. The duo of Australian fast bowling, Richardson and Meredith is an adventurous duo that can prove to be extremely fruitful in the tournament. On the other hand, Dawid Malan is one of the most sumptuous names of T20 cricket and he can be an illustrious addition to Punjab as he will be joining forces with Gayle. Let’s say that Malan and Gayle brew together, it will be nothing short of a tempest. Let’s say that Punjab is quite a few notches high up the ladder of menace.
Thirdly, we will be raving about the defending champions, Mumbai Indians. Needless to say that they are indeed one of the most dangerous teams of the fray and alongside that aura of invincibility, they have introduced the likes of Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla and Marco Jansen among the shiny appellations. One of their primary weapons of the championship in the preceding edition was the brilliant batting of Ishan Kishan. The youngster proved himself to be an absolute rock in the middle-order that answered several quandaries of Mumbai. The best part of this team is the blend of youth and experience and that has always worked for Mumbai Indians. Even in this season, the team will be raring to work out the perfect combination when they replace the likes of James Pattinson with Coulter-Nile or Adam Milne and bring in the explosives in the middle in the form of Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya.
The fourth team that hogs our attention is the two-time champions, Kolkata Knight Riders. Despite a decent start to the fray, the team slumped down to mediocrity and what followed thereafter was a cataclysm as the batters failed to live up to the soaring expectations saddled onto them. Eoin Morgan and Shubman Gill were the only ones to carve a certain magnitude of consistency and Nitish Rana joined the party late. However, in this season, things are going to change for two primary reasons. One of them is Shakib-Al-Hasan while the other is the party arriving back in India. As the entire party arrives in India, the most elated man will be the Caribbean muscle-man, Andre Russell. He is one of the most menacing cricketers in IPL and as the tracks of India are known to this gargantuan like his palm, he shall rejoice in the titanic clouts. Once you pitch anything close to his bat, he will dispatch it into the stands. Shakib is one of the most reliable all-rounders that can see him bat and bowl in equally brilliant proportions. Reliability in the middle-order means more batting space to Russell towards the end that he couldn’t savour in the preceding edition of the fray. This will make them one of the most deadly teams of this tournament.
Up next are the runners-up of the last edition of the tournament, the Delhi Capitals. Their primary strength of the tournament was the fast bowling duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje. This got laced with dynamics from Marcus Stoinis and Shreyas Iyer. Shikhar Dhawan lost his way in the beginning but came back exceptionally strongly in the second half of the campaign. With Steven Smith and Sam Billings coming to the Delhi line-up, this will be an exciting incarnation of the Delhi side. There were a few problems with Shimron Hetmeyer blowing hot and cold and this is where Sam Billings will come in extremely handy. The new combination that will be forged in the likes of Arun Jaitley Stadium will make Delhi Capitals an extremely difficult team to beat in the upcoming edition of the fray.
Royal Challengers Bangalore made it to play-offs last time but once again choked in the knock-out stages and was ousted from the fray in merciless fashion. If there is one thing that the team lacked in the last season was a smooth transition from a decent opening stand to the middle-order where ABD took over the reins. Also, the absence of a senior fast bowler in their line-up bogged the team down in several aspects. There were two massive additions to the squad for this edition and they were Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson. Though Maxwell suffered his worst season in the history of IPL 2020, yet his towering performances for Australia led RCB to splurge a fortune on him. Kyle Jamieson is a budding sensation in the shortest format of the game and he can be a commanding bloke to blow life in RCB’s chequered IPL antiquity.
The rest two teams that are remaining in the hunt are Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals. Hyderabad was one of the most formidable teams of the tournament even until a couple of years back but right now they are a shadow of their former scintillating selves. With Warner, Rashid Khan, Bairstow and Williamson in the echelons, the team banks heavily upon the overseas additions. This is what has helped them across the ages and has also brought them down the ladder. Their swoops from the auction weren’t great either. That is one of the reasons why they will not be a great team to vouch for and coming to Rajasthan Royals, the shaft of hope again lies on the shoulders of Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Butler. Though the arrival of Chris Morris and Liam Livingstone will continue instilling hopes in them, yet it is too far-fetched a cry to call them a menacing team of this edition.
Now coming to the most dangerous team of the tournament, it will undoubtedly be Mumbai Indians who will be raring to continue with their dominance in the fray. However, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai will be giving them stiff competition in terms of menace, especially after the latest purchases, bolstering their reinforcements.