Rising Pune Super Giants
Likely XI: Rahane, Du Plessis, Pietersen, Steve Smith, Dhoni, Perera/Marsh, Irfan Pathan, Ashwin, Ishwar, Ishant, Murugan Ashwin.
Strengths: The Super Giants have a strong batting lineup with the likes of Rahane, Smith, Du Plessis, the in form Kevin Pietersen and one of the most prolific finishers in MS Dhoni. They also boast of quality all rounders like Marsh and Perera while Irfan Pathan can also be handy with the bat. They have a world class spinner like Ashwin in their ranks alongside Zampa who showed great capability in the recently concluded WT20.
Weakness: Pune lack much firepower in the bowling department. Ishant is not known for his bowling in the shorter format, Pathan didn't play a single game during the last IPL, RP Singh was unsold and Dinda can leak a lot of runs. Also they don't have much backup for their batting lineup if someone fails or gets injured.
Chances: Their batting lineup seems quite strong on paper. If the bowlers do their bit, RPSG would be a difficult side to beat. Under the leadership of MS Dhoni, who is popularly known for his calm demeanour, Pune Super Giants will be keen to recreate the CSK magic.
Likely XI: Iyer, De Kock, Samson, Karun Nair, JP Duminy, Brathwaite, Mayank Agarwal, Negi, Zaheer, Shami, Tahir.
Strengths: With the likes of skilful batsmen like Iyer, De Kock and Samson at the top order, Delhi seems to have a perfect blend of talented youngsters. Also versatile all rounders like Duminy, Brathwaite and Morris, provide more weight to the team. Adding to that the experience of Zak and Shami alongwith the spinning trio of Negi, Mishra and Tahir, Delhi Daredevils look quite a formidable side on paper.
Weakness: Leaving De Kock and Duminy, the rest of the batting order lacks international exposure. Also there is not much batting depth for them. With Zaheer and Shami returning from injuries, it will be interesting to see how they rebuild and cope up.
Chances: Delhi Daredevils have been known for being one of the most inconsistent sides of the IPL and this can be an exciting chance for them to shut off their detractors. Stars like De Kock and Brathwaite who proved their credentials in the WT20 will make a considerable impact for Delhi. The side looks quite promising and if they can deliver upto expectations, then there's no stopping them. They also have quality backups in their squad.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Likely XI: Gambhir, Uthappa, Pandey, Yusuf, Shakib, Russell, Suryakumar, Chawla, Yadav, Morkel, Narine.
Strengths: Kolkata Knight Riders have always been a side with tremendous balance alongwith big names. Gambhir's captaincy will be key for KKR's success. Also, Manish Pandey will be high on confidence after having cemented a place in the Indian side. Kolkata brags of stupendous all rounders and power hitters like Shakib, Yusuf and Russell who can smash any bowler out of the park on a given day. They have a decent spin attack as well with Chawla, Narine and Hogg.
Weakness: The pace attack seems a little off colour for KKR. Both Morkel and Yadav were dropped from their respective teams for the WT20. This can be quite vulnerable unless these bowlers back themselves to do well.
Chances: Kolkata have a brilliant chance of making it big in the IPL with quality match winners. They are an exceptional team with some renowned players like Russell and Shakib who can make a significant contribution to the side. The spinners have also done remarkably well. If things work in their favour, Kolkata Knight Riders may well be the favourites to lift the IPL trophy.
Kings XI Punjab
Likely XI: Vohra, Vijay, Maxwell, Saha, Miller, Behardien, Rishi Dhawan/Mann, Axar Patel, Abbott, Mohit, Sandeep.
Strengths: With pinch hitters like Miller and Maxwell, they can turn the game in their favour within a few moments. While Axar and Mann can be vital spinners on a turning track, the fast bowling also looks pretty decent with quality pacers like Abbott, Sandeep and Mohit. They've got a good mix of domestic players and it will be interesting to see how they demonstrate their talent at this level.
Weakness: In the absence of Sehwag, the Punjab top order doesn't look quite fierce. Other than Maxwell and Miller, the batting is a weak link for them. The shortfall of big names in the squad might hurt them dearly. They also don't have a backup wicketkeeper for Saha.
Chances: Since they have less marquee players, the youngsters will have to step up and deliver to their true potential. If that happens, then Kings XI Punjab would have less things to worry about. They didn't have a great season last year and would be longing to prove their mettle in this IPL. The form of Maxwell and Miller will be pivotal for Punjab since they both have ability of turning the course of the game.
Likely XI:- McCullum, Smith/Finch, Raina, Karthik, Bravo, Faulkner, Jadeja, Tambe, Kulkarni, Praveen, Jakati.
Strengths:- The Gujarat Lions boast of a fiery top order with attacking batsmen like McCullum, Finch and Dwayne Smith. They also have colossal all rounders in Bravo and Faulkner who have time and again shown their match winning abilities, with both the bat and ball. Jadeja has the speed and turn in his arm to make the batsmen scurrying.
Weakness:- Skipper Raina has been in a patchy form of late which might be a worry for the Lions. Praveen Kumar and Kulkarni have not been quite consistent with their lengths. Steyn will have to miss out as both Bravo and Faulkner have multiple roles. Thus, it will be a test for Gujarat Lions to choose the right combination.
Chances:- The Gujarat Lions have got a good mix of the Indian and foreign players. The batting order is gigantic but their bowling will need to inspire some confidence. Overall they look excellent but need to put some efforts to get a notch above the others. They will not be an easy team to beat under any circumstances. Since this is their first season, they won't have any kind of burden of any poor performance in the past.
Likely XI:- Rohit, Simmons, Parthiv, Buttler, Pollard/Anderson, Rayudu, Pandya, Harbhajan, Mclengahan, Bumrah, Suchith/Gopal.
Strengths:- The defending champions will be high on confidence. The in form Simmons and the elegant Rohit will start the proceedings for the Mumbai Indians. Pollard and Anderson are great athletes on the field. They acquired Buttler in the auctions who played some lavish knocks in the WT20. Even the bowling looks in a good shape with Mclengahan and Bumrah in the mix. The spinning department will be led by veteran Harbhajan Singh who will look to come up with stellar performances with regular frequency.
Weakness:- Malinga's injury might hurt their death bowling though they have Bumrah. Leaving Harbhajan, MI lack big names in the spin fold. Otherwise they don't have much limitations and look quite a formidable unit.
Chances:- Being one of the most consistent outfits, the defending champions would be looking forward to win their 3rd title in four years. In the last 2 seasons, they haven't begun on a winning note, so they'll be looking forward to do well from the beginning of the phase. Mumbai Indians not only bat deep but also have the capability of simply batting the opponent out of the game. They will undoubtedly be the favourites for this year's IPL season with all the resources covered.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Likely XI:- Gayle, Mandeep, Kohli, Watson, AB De Villiers, Sarfaraz, Binny, Abdullah, Chahal, Aravind, Milne.
Strengths:- Royal Challengers Bangalore possess great aptitude in their batting lineup with the magnificent Gayle, the ever consistent Kohli and the magnanimous AB De Villiers. Shane Watson has been one of the finest all rounders in the game. Youngsters like Chahal, Mandeep and Sarfaraz have done exceedingly well recently and RCB will be banking on them.
Weakness:- Their bench strength is quite ordinary and that might hurt their prospects if the top players fail to perform. Absence of Starc might also affect their pace attack. With Badree injured as well, RCB may have concerns with their bowling. Thus, they will expect better performance from the Indian bowlers in absence of the stalwarts.
Chances:- The kind of batting sensations RCB have in their team, they can win any game singlehandedly for RCB on their day. It will be difficult for any bowling lineup to contain batsmen or restrict the run flow. They have a well rounded explosive team and this season could well belong to them.
Sun Risers Hyderabad
Likely XI:- Dhawan, Warner, Williamson, Naman Ojha, Bhui/Tare, Henriques, Hooda, Karn, Nehra, Mustafizur, Bhuvanesh Kumar.
Strengths:- The Sun Risers have a destructive top order batting with the likes of Dhawan, Warner and Williamson. They are capable of doing serious damage to the opposition. The bowling unit also looks splendid with Nehra, Mustafizur, Boult and Bhuvanesh Kumar in their ranks. Karn Sharma and Rasool will be vital aspects in the spin department.
Weakness:- The middle order looks shaky due to the absence of Yuvraj who's injured. SRH doesn't have enough power hitters in the end to give the finishing touches. Moreover they're short on Indian bench strengths. With Morgan out of form, he might make way for Henriques in the XI.
Chances:- Overall they have a good balance. The Orange Army were quite unlucky to miss out the playoffs last year, but they look proficient this time. They will be hoping Yuvraj regains fitness soon to give composure to their middle order. The youngsters have great calibre and if they perform to their utmost, SRH will be one of the teams to watch out for, in this season.