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The Think Tank: Delhi, Gujarat, Punjab & Kolkata

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IPL_Indian_Premier_League_CricketDelhi Daredevils

After the withdrawals of Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy, Sam Billings has to open to lend support to what would otherwise be a very inexperienced Indian top order. Delhi will be hoping Rishabh Pant can be their ace at number three while the additional experience of Aditya Tare should see him edge out Karun Nair in the middle order.

Chris Morris, Delhi’s best player last season, is certain to play, meaning they will be forced to choose between one of Corey Anderson and Angelo Mathews as the batting all rounder, which would allow them to play one of Pat Cummins or Kagiso Rabada. They could go all-in with both batting all rounders or both bowling all rounders, but the former would be ignoring their seam bowling strength while the latter would leave their batting exposed. Jayant Yadav, Murugan Ashwin and Shabhaz Nadeem give them good spin options when the conditions suit.

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Rest of Squad: Kagiso Rabada, Carlos Brathwaite, Karun Nair, Angelo Mathews, Murugan Ashwin, Shabhaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Shashank Singh, Ankit Bawane, Chama Milind, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Pratyush Singh.

Gujarat Lions

Gujarat Lions’ Indian bowling is strong enough to cope without the assistance of a specialist overseas seamer (Andrew Tye). That bowling, coupled with Ravindra Jadeja, affords them the luxury of playing two overseas all rounders (two of Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner and Dwayne Smith) and two overseas batsman (two of Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy and Aaron Finch). Bravo has to play when fit, and the depth Smith lends the batting gives him the edge over Faulkner.

If they are brave enough to pick four frontline Indian bowlers rather than just three (Praveen Kumar could come in for Ishan Kishan) they would shorten the batting order but it would allow them to replace the second all rounder (Smith or Faulkner) with a third overseas batsman (Roy). When Jadeja is fit, giving them batting additional depth, this is a tantalising option.

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Rest of Squad: James Faulkner, Manpreet Gony, Andrew Tye, Nathu Singh, Munaf Patel, Jaydev Shah, Pradeep Sangwan, Shadab Jakati, Ishan Kishan, Chirag Suri, Akshdeep Nath, Shubam Agarwal, Pratham Singh, Shelly Shaurya, Tejas Baroka.

Kings XI Punjab

After the withdrawal of Murali Vijay, Punjab are going to have to play one of their poor selection of additional Indian batsmen. Gurkeerat Singh’s versatility as an all rounder should see him edge out Armaan Jaffer and Rinku Singh, but there’s no reason for him to bat above the rest of the middle order. Without Vijay, the stability offered by the class of Hashim Amla is preferable to the less consistent Shaun Marsh. But when Martin Guptill returns they'll be spoilt for choice.

Eoin Morgan’s good form should see him pip David Miller but both are likely to get game time. A flexibly ordered middle order of Morgan, Glenn Maxwell, Wriddhiman Saha and Marcus Stoinis - whose bowling should see him preferred to Darren Sammy - is versatile. Sandeep Sharma is the leader of the attack and should partner new signing T Natarajan, who offers left arm variety. Mohit Sharma should be picked ahead of Varun Aaron.

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Rest of Squad: David Miller, Shaun Marsh, KC Cariappa, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Darren Sammy, Nikhil Naik, Rahul Tewatia, Anureet Singh, Armaan Jaffer, Rinku Singh, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh.

Kolkata Knight Riders

In the absence of Andre Russell and with Shakib Al Hasan’s poor form and availability issues, Kolkata should consider reverting from their formula of two overseas all rounders and two overseas bowlers that has served them so well for the past two seasons. Chris Woakes is a decent replacement for Russell but is unlikely to match his scoring rate. This will leave Kolkata over-reliant on the scoring rate of Yusuf unless Kolkata include overseas batsman Chris Lynn, whose BBL form is hard to ignore regardless of Russell’s absence.

Colin de Grandhomme is more likely to match Russell's scoring and gives Kolkata more options; but Woakes' superior bowling should see him preferred initially. The rest of the team largely picks itself with Kolkata possessing one of the most stable cores in the league. Kuldeep Yadav and Rishi Dhawan provide useful back up bowling options.

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Rest of Squad: Nathan Coulter-Nile, Shakib Al Hasan, Ankit Rajpoot, Rishi Dhawan, Darren Bravo, Kuldeep Yadav, Rovman Powell, Sheldon Jackson, Sayan Ghosh, Ishank Jaggi, Sanjay Yadav.

 

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Freddie Wilde is a freelance T20 journalist @fwildecricket....

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