Preview of the 2014 Indian Premier League

Filed in Other by on April 16, 2014

It’s that time of year when the biggest circus in world cricket rolls into town.

Australian fans have always held an indifferent view towards T20 cricket and while general interest is so low that the IPL remains untelevised down under, there is plenty of interest for the keen cricket punter prepared to delve into the many online streams available.

Between all the comical fielding, BCCI propaganda and individually sponsored sixes, catches and ”moments of success” I have attempted to preview each team’s chances including the best betting angles in a competition equally devoid of integrity and Pakistanis.


Chennai Super Kings

The most celebrated team in the IPL having won twice and only failed to make the final once in the six years of the tournament.

The Super Kings have benefitted from stability with the least player turnover in that time as well as the recruitment of some of the best local talent including MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

However they have arguably benefitted more from being owned by the head-honcho of Indian cricket N Srinivisan who, along with his son-in-law and some of the players (reportedly including Dhoni) are under investigation for shenanigans which could yet impact this year’s tournament.

This year Chennai have lost some stability in their top-order with long-term opening pair Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay replaced by the more explosive Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith. Once again they will bat relatively deep which should ensure that they’ll be unlikely to post anything below 140 batting first although a more powerful top-two gives them further scope for totals in excess of 180.

They’ve retained the core of their bowling line-add with West Indies’ Samuel Badree an excellent addition, however they will suffer for only playing two regular season games at their home ground the MA Chidambaram Stadium, where they boast an impressive record.

With all the controversy surrounding Srinivisan, Meiyappan and Dhoni I get the feeling they “won’t be allowed to win it” although their roster and historical results suggests it will be better to lay them later on.

Other than that look to get with them when they play in Chennai while with the ball it is difficult to oppose them perhaps with the exception of the death where the likes of Bravo, Ishwar Pandey, Ashish Nehra and Mohit Sharma (despite his impressive performance in last year’s competition) could go the journey.

Aussie Watch: Despite a handy record for the Super Kings Ben Hilfenhaus is unlikely to play too often with Badree likely to battle it out with one of the batsmen for the last overseas spot. John Hastings performed well in the Big Bash but is likely to only play if Dwayne Bravo is unavailable.


Delhi Daredevils

Delhi decided on a clear-out for this season’s tournament, being the only side not to retain a single player prior to this year’s auction.

However despite that they have ended up with a similar squad that is slated to finish in a similar position to last year’s rock bottom.

They even ended up purchasing Kevin Pietersen (who missed last year’s tournament through injury) but otherwise have replaced Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Mahela Jaywardene, Irfan Pathan and Morne Morkel with the fresher Murali Vijay, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Ross Taylor and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Dinesh Karthik, Manoj Tiwary and Saurabh Tiwary add valuable depth to the batting, while Wayne Parnell presents another all-round seam option although initially only one out of he and Coulter-Nile are likely to play.

While the batting looks better than last season the bowling again looks suspect. Rahul Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem form a handy spin duo but there’ll be plenty of pressure on the seam attack of Mohammad Shami, Jaydev Unadkat and whoever plays out of Coulter-Nile and Parnell.

The obvious angle here is to get against the Daredevils in the field as they’re likely to concede plenty of runs on plenty of occasions. With the bat de Kock may take some time to adapt to the slower conditions (as evidenced in the world T20) so he along with Vijay could produce some sluggish starts, however Delhi’s strike-power and depth suggests it would be better to get long in the final overs.

Later in the tournament there could be opportunities to get against the Daredevils’ runs from the off as they may be forced to play two of their overseas bowlers after conceding too many in the opening stanza of the tournament.

I wouldn’t be in a hurry to back them, however their powerful batting could easily win them a few games early on and make them a decent lay as quality bowling usually decides the knock-out games.

Aussie Watch: Nathan Coulter-Nile is likely to get plenty of opportunities and will have to step-up as part of this ropey bowling attack. Look out for his overthrow sixes which have IPL written all over them in more ways than one.


Kolkata Knight Riders

After a fairly underwhelming defence of their 2012 title KKR decided to retain only captain Gautum Gambhir and star spinner Sunil Narine prior to this year’s auction.

However they went out and used of combination of “right to match” cards and outright bidding to bring back Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan and Ryan ten Doeschate as well as local ‘keepers Manvinder Bisla and Debabrata Das, giving their top/middle order a very similar look to last year.

As a result the batting looks stodgy, however the additions of Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Chris Lynn and Andre Russell does provide some strike-power, if not reliability.

The bowling attack, however, has been overhauled with only Narine, Shakib and Kallis remaining from last season. The Knight Riders have waved goodbye to Brett Lee with Morne Morkel the new spearhead. They have also replaced trundlers Balaji and Bhatia with the more pacy Umesh Yadav and Vinay Kumar, while Piyush Chawla is a much more attacking spinner than Iqbal Abdulla.

KKR are one of the least favoured sides with the bookies but I’m not sure that’s right. The batting does look a tad laboured, especially with Kallis up top, but they have plenty of depth with both bat and ball and in fact boast one of the better attacks in the competition, especially in the dry conditions of the UAE and Eden Gardens.

The thing about KKR is that they have a number of players who, whilst lacking reliability and/or recent form, have a huge amount of upside. Yusuf, Uthappa, Bisla, Lynn, Pandey, Russell, Chawla and Morkel are all match-winners on their day, and while it is unlikely that all will fire on the same day or even in the same season, you only need a handful to have a big tournament and KKR will suddenly be a force.

The $11.50 available for them to win the competition is very generous, as is the $2.80 to make the top four. Other than that look to back them to defend low totals, especially on drier surfaces, while at the back end of their innings’ with the bat look for volatility either way as the likes of Yusuf, Pandey and Russell are equally capable of triggering a frantic finish or a monumental collapse.

Aussie Watch: If KKR do struggle with the bat early on then Chris Lynn may displace Shakib in the middle-order but will need to recreate his BBL form in much slower conditions. Promising quick Pat Cummins was picked up late in the auction by KKR and is only likely to play if Morkel is unavailable or Yadav loses the plot.


Kings XI Punjab

Punjab were largely considered the “winners” of this year’s auction after splashing out on a number of big names including Australian trio George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson.

They also retained South African “finisher” David Miller and promising batsmen Manan Vohra, as well as managing to bring back IPL specialist Shaun Marsh and local players Pavinder Awana, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh and Sandeep Sharma who all contributed in varying degrees to the Kings’ 2013 campaign.

In addition to the retirement of Adam Gilchrist, Punjab dispensed with a number of experienced players in David Hussey, Azhar Mahmood, Piyush Chawla and Praveen Kumar. In their place comes a mix of local talent including Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha and Murali Kartik as well as a couple of more exciting overseas options in Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera and South African left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks.

Punjab’s side certainly looks stronger on paper than last year, however they will lean heavily on their overseas contingent, of whom of course they can only play four. George Bailey will not want to follow in the footsteps of fellow Tasmanian Ricky Ponting in being dropped as captain of his IPL side but if he doesn’t score runs early on he will come under severe pressure with the weight of foreign talent within the squad.

I’d be looking to get against Punjab’s batting in the first six with Sehwag more miss than hit these days and likely to be joined up top by Pujara, Vohra or at best Marsh who can take his time to get going.

They have plenty of explosiveness through the middle with Maxwell, Miller and Thisara (although only two of those will likely play) so I’d be less keen to be short at the death, especially if one of the aforementioned have their eye in.

Their bowling is serviceable, however does lack strike outside of Johnson who is unlikely to be as effective as he was for Mumbai last year. Awana, Balaji, Murali Kartik and Rishi Dhawan are all fairly average and unlikely to restrict the better batting line-ups so I can’t envisage too many occasions when I’d want to be with Punjab in the field. In fact with Mitch still occasionally wayward I’d fancy the opposition to chase down a few big scores, especially in Mohali.

Aussie Watch: Bailey will captain while Maxwell and Johnson will be first choice marquee players that Punjab will rely heavily on. Despite a phenomenal record in this tournament over the years Shaun Marsh may have to wait for his chance but look out for him to score big if he gets a go at their home ground in Mohali.


Mumbai Indians

The defending champions retained the core of their title-winning side with Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu held onto pre-auction, while left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and wicket-keeper batsman Aditya Tare were snaffled up during the auction.

The acquisition of Mike Hussey in place of the retired Sachin Tendulkar is undoubtedly an upgrade, while Dwayne Smith has made way for boom Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson and the loss of Mitchell Johnson has been somewhat countered by the capture of tricky West Indian left-arm seamer Krismar Santokie.

Overall, while it could be argued that Mumbai have actually improved their squad from last year, it is undoubtedly less balanced with no Dinesh Karthik in the middle-order which could see Pollard or Anderson in much earlier than desired if they lose a few early wickets.

The capture of Zaheer Khan (if fit) will help to alleviate the loss of Johnson, especially as Santokie will struggle to get a go until Malinga departs for Sri Lankan duty in May. Otherwise responsibility with the ball will fall to the familiar trio of Malinga, Harbhajan and Ohja plus contributions from the big-hitting all-rounders.

All in all Mumbai again look one of the better sides and have the added advantage of not having to carry Tendulkar this time around. In fact the reliability of Hussey should open up opportunities for Pollard and Anderson to power them home to a number of big first innings totals, although as mentioned three early wickets will have them in too soon so look to get with volatility either way.

While they will undoubtedly miss the strike provided by Johnson the combination of age and injuries are the biggest threat to their bowling line-up as there is not a lot of depth beyond the first XI which could be a problem with a number of players who are either getting on, susceptible to injury, a liability in the field or a combination of all three.

Early in the tournament the market may overrate the impact of Pollard and Anderson, especially with both on the way back from injury and the latter about to play his first IPL so there could be opportunities to get against monstrous finishes at decent prices but in general I’d be loath to oppose the pair against Indian seamers on relatively small grounds.

I’d suggest Mumbai are better than the $8 currently available for them to win the tournament, but further down the track look to get against their long-term prospects if Malinga has to miss the majority of the second-half of the competition while playing for Sri Lanka.

Aussie Watch: Ben Dunk and Josh Hazlewood will need injuries to strike the first choice squad if they are any chance of getting decent game-time during the tournament.


Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB made the most eye-opening purchase of this year’s auction when they paid top dollar (or top lakh) for Yuvraj Singh.

This was in addition to the retention of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, and then just in case they were concerned about not having enough strike-power they added Albie Morkel.

Unfortunately for Bangalore they forgot that their bowling attack was their real concern. The names are mostly different but the result is unlikely to alter. Ravi Rampaul and Muttiah Muralitharan are back, however Mitchell Starc is likely to bear the responsibility of the marquee overseas bowler.

He will be joined by fellow quicks Varun Aaron, Ashok Dinda and Abu Nechim, as well as left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati while no doubt Morkel and Yuvraj will pitch in with a few overs.

Whether those names are an upgrade on Vinay Kumar, RP Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, Murali Kartik and an admittedly injury-raven Zaheer Khan is certainly debatable. What is not in question is that they have the most unbalanced squad in the tournament and do not deserve to carry favouritism.

The main angle on RCB will be getting with them to chase down big totals or failing to defend bigger ones, especially in the five games played at their home ground the M Chinnaswamy which will be a recipe for carnage.

Somehow the addition of Yuvraj and Starc is enough for them to be rated $5.50 jollies which should not be entertained, however look to lay them at around $1.50 to make the top four – especially as they have failed to make the semis for the past two years with a similar squad.

Aussie Watch: Nic Maddinson seems to meet the RCB brief of being a batsman capable of going at a frantic rate but is unlikely to play unless Gayle pulls a thigh muscle while practising his Gangnam Style dance in the mirror and de Villiers leaves cricket to become an astronaut.


Rajasthan Royals

Last year the Royals overcame an unfancied squad and the spot-fixing controversy involving three of their players to finish third and come within a whisker of the final.

Once again their roster is not packed with superstars but in typical Rajasthan style they have made a number of shrewd purchases for minimal investment.

They started by retaining Ajinka Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson and Shane Watson, who will take over from Rahul Dravid as captain. Furthermore they managed to buy back Brad Hodge, Kevon Cooper, Dishant Yagnik, Vikramjeet Malik and 42-year-old leg-spin sensation Pravin Tambe giving them the sort of stability only seen by CSK over the years.

Aside from Dravid the only significant departure is medium-pacer Siddharth Trivedi (who was embroiled in the spot-fixing scandal) and he has been ably replaced by former KKR all-rounder Rajat Bhatia.

Other local bits-and-pieces players such as Iqbal Abdulla and Abhishek Nayar add further versatility while Dhawal Kulkarni provides a bit more pace and Unmukt Chand joins as one of the most promising batsmen in the country, even if he has struggled to adapt to this format.

But the Royals weren’t restricted to cut-price local players with the in-form Steve Smith, Kiwi paceman Tim Southee and bowling all-rounders Ben Cutting and Kane Richardson added to their overseas contingent.

Overall Rajasthan look better on paper than last season so the $16.50 for them to win the tournament looks massive, as does the $3.65 to finish in the top four.

While it’s unlikely that Binny will perform as well as he did last season there should be some improvement from Samson and he along with Rahane and Watson form a solid top-order while one of Smith and Hodge along with Faulkner will bear the responsibility of going big in the death overs.

I really like the look of the Royals bowling attack with the assembly of medium-pace options ideal on the slower wickets in the UAE, while Faulkner and Southee can both be effective at the death on their day.

Look to back the Royals to choke the opposition and defend low scores on low, slow pitches and also look to back them as big underdogs against the more star-studded sides such as RCB and CSK.

Aussie Watch: Watson will captain while Faulkner will be one of the first players picked. One out of Hodge and Smith will likely take another overseas spot, while Cutting and Richardson will battle with the more established Southee and Cooper for the final foreign slot.


Sunrisers Hyderabad

In their first season as the rebranded Deccan Chargers, the Sunrisers surprised a few by finishing in the top four after a consistent 2013 campaign in which they only once lost two games on the trot.

They retained two of their big stars in Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn then used their “right to match” cards to bring back Amit Mishra and Darren Sammy who also played a significant part in their run to the semis last year.

To round off their retention they outlaid some significant dough to maintain custody of leggie Karn Sharma, while spending less on fringe all-rounder Ashish Reddy and spared Ishant Sharma’s blushes by also picking him up late in the auction.

Gone from the 2013 squad is Cameron White, Kumar Sangakkara, Parthiv Patel, Thisara Perera and Hanuma Vihari, replaced by David Warner, Aaron Finch, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan and Venugopal Rao.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jason Holder will give Steyn much needed assistance in the pace department while local players Parveez Rasool and Srikkanth Anirudha provide further depth and versatility.
Overall the Sunrises probably look stronger than last year, however their batting is very top-heavy with the dynamism of Dhawan, Warner and Finch leaving a big hole in the middle-order where the likes of Ojha, Anirudha or Venugopal Rao are likely to occupy the spots at 4 and 5.

At six they have Darren Sammy who is establishing himself as one of the best finishers in T20 cricket, however the Sunrisers face a similar problem to Mumbai if he has to come in too early. This means that their batting is very volatile as Sammy could just as easily be coming in at 4/40 as 3/180.

Their bowling attack looks stronger with Bhuvneshwar and Irfan providing more local options to complement Steyn and the twin spin attack of Mishra and Karn Sharma. Holder is a handy overseas signing although unlikely to see much action unless Steyn is unavailable.

Overall I find the Sunrisers’ chances hard to gauge but wouldn’t be backing them at $6.20 to win the tournament, especially with Warner and Finch less effective on the slower pitches in the UAE.

The main angle would be to stick to volatility either way with their batting and back them to defend low totals as their attack is littered with wicket-takers.

Aussie Watch: Warner and Finch will form a powerful top-order with captain Dhawan. Moises Henriques will start behind Darren Sammy in the pecking order but may get the odd chance throughout the tournament.

Comments are closed.