Wednesday, April 3, 2013

IPL 2013 - What are the Chances of Each Team to Win?

By Carl Jaison:

It is once again that time of the year when multiculturalism weds sport, the wedding hall being the cricket-crazy subcontinent of India. The bride, an amalgamation of the cultures of the 12 cricketing nations, adorned in multi-ethnic styling of a typically pluralistic fashion, and the bridegroom, clothed in sporty and resplendent franchisee colours, with a shade of regionalist sentiment cloaked beneath their group identity, waiting with blushful anticipation for the big day to arrive, when the two entities garland one another marking the beginning of the 54-day long extravaganza. The symbolic attire of the bride and bridegroom are sure to enrich the festivity mood and spark the celebratory spirits of the IPL fans. The event transcends cultural, linguistic and religious barriers, with the monotheism practiced, the language spoken, and the culture embraced being the T20 format of cricket.

This edition witnesses a change in title sponsors - DLF making way for Pepsi - which secured rights with a bid of Rs. 396.8 crore, edging out Airtel for attaining the coveted association with the US$1.6 billion-valued cricketing brand.

Unsurprisingly, the upcoming edition too has its shameless share of controversies, marred by the banning of Sri Lankan cricketers from appearing in matches played at the Chepauk Stadium, Chennai, in the wake of political turbulence. Also, the diplomatic standoff between the Indian and Pakistani governments have once again prevented Pakistani cricketers from representing any IPL franchise (Wasim Akram, though, is an exception!).

Shah Rukh Khan's alleged misbehaviour with a Wankhede Stadium security guard last season resulted in the KKR owner being banned from entering the Mumbai Cricket Association premises for a period of five years. Though the ban was expected to be lifted, MCA sources maintain that the prohibition will be dealt with sternly. These examples of bureaucratic tensions are starkly ironic with the underlying tenet of the IPL’s very existence, which is the pure spirit of new format, exciting cricket.

Controversies aside, the edition promises to be a visual treat in terms of the cricketing quality, not to forget the glitz and glamour quotient associated with it. The bankrupt Deccan Chargers outfit will make way for debutant Sunrisers Hyderabad, a change that would hopefully bring a revival of hope for the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The new faces, who having gone through the nail-biting IPL auctioneering process, will now take to the field to showcase their worth and substance, including a select few from the U-19 World Cup winning squad. No more will the well-known 'DLF Maximum' cry from the commentary panel ring through the ears of television-viewers, but that shouldn't stop the likes of Chris Gayle from launching those towering sixes.

The gala night opening ceremony, organised by the defending champs KKR, will serve as an apt testimony of the excitement and frolic that this mega-event will usher in (sadly, Jennifer Lopez has opted out of performing on the big night possibly due to the inability of the authorities to actualize her pay-package). Neither will her absence deprive the viewers of full-on entertainment as the performance artists include international rapper Pitbull, leading Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif, Chinese percussionists, and flying drummers.

The inaugural match will be played between defending champs KKR and hot favourites Delhi Daredevils at the former's den on the 4th of April, when all roads lead to the 90,000 capacity stadium, Eden Gardens.

Being the biggest sporting spectacle in India, the IPL has succeeded in drawing a huge audience across all age categories. Here is an analysis of the 9 teams that will battle it out to clinch that prized trophy and evidently, the allurement of the cash prize that will make this victory even more precious and satisfying:

Chennai Super Kings:

Any analysis should begin with a description on the Dhoni-led brigade - CSK has won the coveted IPL trophy in consecutive editions (2010 & 2011), even having reached the play-offs on all occasions. They remain the only team which goes into the 6th season with an unchanged captain. CSK was also the first Indian franchisee team to have won the Champions League T20. The team is often referred to as a mini Team-India having the likes of MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, & Ravindra Jadeja, all of whom seem to be in the thick of action at all times. But, it is some of their foreign buys like Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, Faf Du Plessis, who have proved to be the decisive influences on the team. Albie Morkel, the leading wicket-taker for the CSK, backed up by his powerful pinch-hitting lower down the order, has provided the team with the right kind of balance. Dwayne Bravo, another talented all-rounder has mixed caution with aggression resulting in fruitful outcomes as seen in his outstanding display with both bat and ball. Faf Du Plessis was instrumental in taking CSK to the final lap last season with his solid batting in the openers slot, plus his fine fielding skills. The current hot property, Ravindra Jadeja lends the vital depth to the team which is excessively dominated by all-rounders. Murali Vijay and Ravichandran Ashwin will be high on confidence after their spectacular outing against Australia in the just concluded home series. Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni will comprise the middle-order slots, as players who are capable of adjusting their game-style according to the requirement. The CSK have a real chance of winning the trophy given their enviable team and having a sensible captain in MSD.

New recruits are Akila Dananjaya, Baba Aparajith, Ben Laughlin, Chris Morris, Imtiyaz Ahmed, Jason Holder, Mohit Sharma, Ronit More, and Vijay Shankar.

Batsmen to watch out for are MS Dhoni, Faf Du Plessis, & Suresh Raina. Bowlers to watch out for are Albie Morkel, Ben Hilfenhaus, Akila Dananjaya, R Ashwin, & Dirk Nannes.

Probable playing XI consists of Faf Du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo, MS Dhoni (c) & (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Albie Morkel, R Ashwin, Dirk Nannes, & Imitiaz Ahmed.

Mumbai Indians:

The Mumbai outfit sprung a couple of surprises during the IPL auction and afterwards. Glenn Maxwell, the million-dollar all-rounder of the sixth edition of the IPL, whom the Mumbai Indians paid through their noses to don the blue jersey is a suitable T20 specialist having excelled in the Australian domestic circuit. Ricky Ponting, the legendary batsman and former captain of Australia, makes a comeback into the IPL as the skipper of the Reliance-owned team. Ponting is widely known for his tactical skills as a captain and possession of a wide range of shots, especially his trademark pull-shot. Sachin Tendulkar continues to represent his state franchisee in the shortest format despite absenting himself from national duty for the same version. The Little Master had a mediocre series against Australia which puts his form under scrutiny and having relinquished the captaincy role, he would be hoping to be instrumental in taking his team to IPL glory, something which he wishes to do before he plans to call it a day. Playing as a batting all-rounder, Dwayne Smith had produced quick runs to provide the team with blistering starts on numerous occasions. The big-hitting Keiron Pollard and handy lower-order batsman James Franklin provide the MI with the late-innings firework. Rohit Sharma will look to make a huge impact and cement his spot in the Indian team, like many of his contemporaries have done. The bowling attack is spearheaded by the lethal Sri Lankan pacer, Lasith Malinga, who alongwith Munaf Patel and Abu Nechim have troubled batsmen early-on in the matches. However, their only moment of cherished glory was when they won the 2011 Champions League T20, and they haven't played to their expectations having finished runners-up only on one occasion. Given the tremendous potential they possess and a dynamic captain to lead them, MI should play an aggressive mode of cricket if they are to stand any chance of threatening other top-flight teams.

New recruits are Amitoze Singh, Glen Maxwell, Jalaj Saxena, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Phil Hughes, Ricky Ponting, Rishi Dhawan, & Suryakumar Yadav.

Players to watch out for are Lasith Malinga, Sachin Tendulkar, Ambati Rayudu, & Keiron Pollard.

Probable playing XI consists of Sachin Tendulkar, Dwayne Smith, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Ricky Ponting (c), Keiron Pollard, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Munaf Patel, & Abu Nechim.

Royal Challengers Bangalore:

The RCB has an enterprising unit at their disposal. The plethora of talent ranges from domestic to international circles, having in their midst players of outstanding cricketing skill and ability like AB De Villiers, Chris Gayle, Chetashwar Pujara, Moises Henriques, & Virat Kohli. But it is indeed surprising that the unit has failed to make their presence felt when it matters the most. The presence of Chris Gayle at the top of the order has immensely benefited the team. The West Indian powerhouse has the unique and carefree ability to muscle sixes and fours at will, with utter disdain and disregard for the bowler. His charismatic nature works well for the team’s cause. The captaincy rein has been passed onto Virat Kohli, the emerging star of Indian cricket, a move which is seen by many as a futuristic vocation so that the young lad can develop with time and age. He has been a prodigious find for Team India and the RCB will be hoping that the youngster can replicate his sublime touch in the shortest format. AB De Villiers is the typical all-round player one can come across. His acrobatic fielding skills, innovative batting, and man-management ability makes him an asset for any team.

New recruits are Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Moises Henriques, Sandeep Warrier, Sheldon Jackson, Vijay Zol, Ravi Rampaul, & RP Singh.

Players to watch out for are Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers, Ravi Rampaul, & Mayank Agarwal.

Probable playing XI consists of Tillakeratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers, Chetashwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Arun Karthik, Vinay Kumar, Ravi Rampaul, KP Appanna, & Prasanth Parameshwaran.

Kolkata Knight Riders:

Gautam Gambhir remarked recently that it is time to play fearless cricket in the context of KKR defending their crown. The KKR skipper knows the challenges ahead for his team and the difficult task of retaining the crown. Brett Lee will don a new role in the team as assistant bowling coach. Even without Lee, KKR has a strong bowling line-up which will, in all likelihood, be spearheaded by Aussie pacer James Pattinson, who will be ably assisted by Lakshmipathy Balaji and newfound talent Shami Ahmed. Sunil Narine, who rattled and flummoxed clueless batsmen, will be heavily relied on by his captain, being the team’s lead spinner. They have some of the best all-rounders of the game in their team like Jack Kallis, Ryan ten Doeschate, & Shakib Al Hasan, but it won't be viable playing all three at the same time. Therein lies KKR's dilemma. They have plenty to choose from due to which striking the right balance becomes crucial. However, Gambhir led the team admirably last season and everyone chipped in optimally. SRK will be hoping for a repeat show, particularly against Mumbai Indians.

New recruit is Sachithra Senanayake.

Players to watch out for are Brendan McCullum, Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan, & James Pattinson.

Probable playing XI are Gautam Gambhir, Manvinder Bisla, Brendan McCullum, Jack Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Rajat Bhatia, James Pattinson, Sunil Narine, Lakshmipathy Balaji, & Shami Ahmed.

Delhi Daredevils:

DD will sorely miss the services of Kevin Pietersen, who is recuperating from an injury and Jesse Ryder, who is undergoing intense medical care following a brutal assault by unidentified men days back. The team will be captained by Mahela Jayawardena, who replaces home favourite, Virender Sehwag. The batting department comprises of Naman Ojha, Yogesh Nagar, & Unmukt Chand, all of whom have performed exceptionally well in first class T20 cricket. All rounders Andre Russel, van der Merwe, & Johan Botha make up the remaining utility players in an otherwise bowling-biased strong line-up. Morne Morkel, the towering figure, sent shivers down the spines of batsmen last season emerging as the highest wicket-taker. Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Umesh Yadav, and Varun Aaron make up the remaining pace battery. Kedhar Jadhav, too has had a decent outing this season due to which he may well be picked over Yogesh Nagar. However, the spin department doesn't instil much confidence but DD will be hoping that promising left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem works in their favor and provide those crucial breakthroughs like he did last season.

New recruits are Jeevan Mendis & Sujit Nayak.

Players to watch out for are Unmukt Chand, Virender Sehwag, & Morne Morkel.

Probable playing XI consists of David Warner, Virender Sehwag, Unmukt Chand, Mahela Jayawardena, Naman Ojha, Kedhar Jadhav, Andre Russell, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Shahbaz Nadeem, & Morne Morkel.

Kings XI Punjab:

Adam Gilchrist can certainly lift the spirits of this demoralized unit, which of late has been finding the going tough. They have gifted all-rounders in Mascarenhas and David Hussey, both of whom can turn the match on its head. Paul Valthaty flattered to deceive since bursting into limelight with some fine performances in the previous editions. Azhar Mahmood played a huge part in KXIP victories last season, stroking vital boundaries and picking up wickets when the team needed him the most. Another game-changer in their midst is Aussie discard Shaun Marsh, who needs to regain his magical touch if KXIP are to progress through to the subsequent stages. Praveen Kumar is back to his wicket-taking ways which is an encouraging sign for the side. Ryan Harris is the only proper seam-bowler that KXIP has so he is certain to play.

There have been no new recruits this season.

Players to watch out for are David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, & Azhar Mahmood.

Probable playing XI consists of Adam Gilchrist, Paul Valthaty, Mandeep Singh, David Hussey, Nitin Saini, Azhar Mahmood, Ryan Harris, Praveen Kumar, Parwinder Awana,Piyush Chawla, & Harmeet Singh.

Pune Warriors India:

The non-availability of Michael Clarke may affect the team's composition, which means Yuvraj Singh looks certain to lead the Sahara-owned outfit. All eyes will be on the Prince of Indian cricket who was unable to feature in the IPL owing to cancer treatment. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar has attained a new lease of life after a string of commendable performances which makes him a certain for selection. The other big names include Ross Taylor, Steven Smith, Marlon Samuels, and Aaron Finch, who replaces Clarke in the team. The lack of a quality pace bowler may hurt their chances as PWI have often failed to bowl out the opposition. Angelo Mathews, the current Sri Lankan captain, might fill in the batting all-rounder slot which has many takers including Steven Smith, Marlon Samuels, Luke Wright, Mitchell Marsh etc. The team has always gone off to flying starts but only to wither away in crucial junctures. With Saurav Ganguly as team mentor, one can assuredly bet on the Warriors coming out all guns blazing in typical Dada style aggression.

New recruits are Ross Taylor, Aaron Finch, Ajanta Mendis, & Luke Wright.

Players to watch out for are Yuvraj Singh, Ross Taylor, Ishwar Pandey, & Rahul Sharma.

Probable playing XI consists of Aaron Finch, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Yuvraj Singh, Marlon Samuels, Angelo Mathews, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, & Shrikanth Wagh.

Rajasthan Royals:

Rahul Dravid recently admitted that his team will go into the tournament as the underdogs. But the array of star players in their line-up makes one think otherwise. Shane Watson will be their key player, who has the ability to bat in any position and can bowl in few overs when necessary. Ajinkya Rahane will look to replicate his last season’s brilliance when he single-handedly won matches for his side through an exhibition of immaculate technical finesse. Sreesanth, Amit Singh, & Trivedi are the notable Indian pacers in the team. Shaun Tait's waywardness and inconsistency may spell doom for the Dravid-led side which will then have to find a suitable foreign replacement. Fidel Edwards is an option worth considering but RR will find it difficult to select the right foreign combination of 4, keeping in mind left-arm Chinaman spinner, Brad Hogg. Kevan Cooper was RR's find of the tournament and he is certain to play a larger role for the team. Stuart Binny has matured as a player and being the much-needed domestic all-rounder the team is looking for, Binny will have to assume greater responsibility if Watson is deemed unfit.

New recruits areFidel Edwards, James Faulkner, Kushal Perera, & Samuel Badree.

Players to watch out for are Shane Watson, Brad Hogg, Rahane, & Kevan Cooper.

Probable playing XI consists of Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid, Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Owais Shah, Shreevats Goswami, Kevan Cooper, Siddarth Trivedi, Amit Singh, Ankit Chavan, & S Sreesanth.

Sunrisers Hyderabad:

The infants of the tournament, Sunrisers, have an able and shrewd skipper in Kumar Sangakkara. Dale Steyn will be the lead bowler having a superlative record of inflicting maximum damage, be it against any batting line-up in the world. Shikhar Dhawan, Cameron White, Bharat Chipli, & Darren Sammy are the leading batsmen in the team. Ishant Sharma will aim at forging a lethal pairing with Steyn to unsettle batsmen. Thisara Perera is a good buy considering his innate ability to clear the ropes at will and being a well-known partnership-breaker with his raw and hit-the-deck pace. The team will be looking to salvage pride early-on and hope to bring smiles on the faces of their fans. Its always exciting having a new team in the fold.

Players to watch out for are Dale Steyn, Sangakkara, & Shikhar Dhawan.

Probable playing XI consists of Shikhar Dhawan, Bharat Chipli, Kumar Sangakkara, Cameron White, Ravi Teja, Jhunjhunwala, Thisara Perera, Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, & Sudeep Tyagi.

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