IPL 4: Meet the teams [Part–1]


I was in Pondicherry when all the “auction” panned out. In fact I had totally forgotten that there was an IPL auction going on, but thanks to Twitter and in no small terms to @cric_buzz , @rameshsrivats , my iPhone 4 and Airtel EDGE [outstanding connectivity    I must say] that I kept getting constant stream of updates on who went where and for how much. The start was so legendary with “Gauti” going for a giganticus amount of    $ 2.4 million and that kind of set the event up for what was to be an outrageous auction. “Icon” Players were dumped, unknown players were bought for unthinkable amounts, officials playing dual roles of mentors/business advisors/coach and finally the Bollywood angle, which no event in India is spared from. Now that the dust has settled and most of the fight is now focussed on the “uncapped” players, I thought it makes sense to sit down and review the squads and also come out with my first blog-post of the new year Smile [Happy new year to all the readers!!]

Since there are 10 teams in the fray this time, I will be reviewing the first 5 teams that come to my mind [with absolutely no prior bias towards these teams!]. And the teams are..

  • Chennai Super Kings
  • Royal Challengers Bangalore
  • Rajasthan Royals
  • Kochi
  • Kings XI Punjab

Chennai Super Kings [CSK]

Squad:

CSK_Team

CSK is always canny when it comes to picking the “right” players and this is what exactly happened this time round too. The main strategy was to win back as many players from earlier team as possible so as to retain the basic core. And they were very successful in doing that, buying back as many as 7 of them. While the batting has the familiar look of the Rainas, the Vijays and the Husseys, it is the bowling that they have sought to strengthen this time and to some level they have. Nuwan Kulasekara at $100,000 was an absolute “steal” and so was Dwyane Bravo at his base price [$200,000]. The bowling attack should revolve around R Ashwin, the pick of the Indian bowlers from the past IPLs, while Bollinger, 1 out of [Kulasekara, Randiv and Hilfenhaus] and either of Sudeep Tyagi and Joginder Sharma [most probably Sudeep] should complete the bowling line up. They have awesome all-rounders in Albie Morkel, the enigmatic Bravo and wily old-fox Styris. Another smart move was to have an established keeper apart from Dhoni, who could bat too, so that some weight could be taken off Dhoni’s already burdened back. With squad size being capped at 30, CSK needs to do some thinking with respect to the composition of rest of the squad as it currently has 18 players [8 Indians, 10 foreigners].

Expected Line-up:

  1. Murali Vijay
  2. —?— [could be Saha, who could be asked to open the innings and also keep]
  3. Suresh Raina
  4. Michael Hussey*
  5. S Badrinath
  6. MS Dhoni
  7. Dwyane Bravo*
  8. Albie Morkel*
  9. R Ashwin
  10. Sudeep Tyagi
  11. Bollinger*

[* means foreign players, where the limit still stands at 4. Don’t exactly know who will open. Also they could choose to go with Randiv instead for Bollinger to add more teeth to the spin department]

This looks an extremely well-balanced side and should be one of the “usual suspects” at the later stages.

Royal Challengers Bangalore [RCB]

Squad:

RCB_Team

Definitely not the “Test-Match” team of IPL 1, this team has plenty of youngsters, going in sync with the owner of RCB. The upcoming stars of Indian cricket, Kohli, Pujara and Tiwary should form the fulcrum around which RCB’s batting should revolve. The explosive pair of Dilshan and AB de Villiers [snatched away from Delhi Daredevils] should add tremendous amount of fire-power to what looks like a fine batting line-up. The bowling attack looks equally fiery with Zaheer and Nannes taking up with new-ball duties and Mithun complementing them as first change. Vettori who came rather cheap at $550,000 should take care of the spin department. Although this looks a settled line-up, the lack of spinners should be a major concern for RCB. Completing the squad of 30 looks another problem to me, since they don’t have a lot left in the kitty [having shelled out big moolah on Tiwary, AB and Khan] and have only 16 players [6 Indian, 10 Foreign] for now. Also, they have surprisingly chosen to buy a lot of “deadwood” from Punjab [Kaif and Pomersbach], which looks rather strange to me. Letting go of Robin “Onion” Uthappa may be a big crowd turn off. However, if they manage to get Manish Pandey, the knowledgeable crowd of Bangalore should pour in.

Expected Line Up:

  1. Tilekratne Dilshan*
  2. Manish Pandey [considering they manage to get him]
  3. Virat Kohli
  4. AB de Villiers*
  5. Cheteshwar Pujara
  6. Saurabh Tiwary
  7. Daniel Vettori*
  8. —?— [incorporate some Indian spinner here]
  9. Zaheer Khan
  10. Abhimanyu Mithun
  11. Dirk Nannes

Another awesome line-up, well balanced. A quality spinner will make this line-up even more formidable. AB de Villiers is an extremely good buy, as I felt he was getting wasted at Delhi Daredevils with Sehwag, Gambhir and Warner hogging too much of batting time and the limelight.

Rajasthan Royals [RR]

Squad:

RR_TEam

Honestly, I feel this team is weaker than the one Rajasthan Royals had in 2008 [when everyone expected them to burn in hell and die]. RR were only allowed to spend $7 million unlike the $9 million for the rest of the franchisees [read here] and even then they decided to shell out $1.8 million for their erstwhile captain, Shane Warne. What was even more puzzling was the purchase of another spinner, foreign one at that, Johan Botha, for another $950,000 which must count as one of the craziest buys of the auction. This reduced their purse greatly and forced them to continue the auction on a thread-bare budget. With only 8 players being bought [2 Indians, 6 foreigners], RR will have to come up with “Special” picks from the catchment area [Remember Swapnil Asnodkar, Kamran Khan ??] Also, knowing how injury prone the Aussie pair of Watson and Tait are, picking them may not have been the best trick in the book. However, I don’t think all is lost like RR showed in 2008. The Ranji team of Rajasthan is doing really well [currently contesting the Ranji trophy finals] and has some really exciting prospects. If these players can come to the party, RR has a more than solid senior core of players in Dravid the “Wall”, Collingwood the “fighter” and Warne the “magician” who can serve as mentors to the rest. This will reduce the burden on Taylor, Watson and Tait who can then go ahead and express themselves in a deadly fashion. But for now lets only sit back and see how RR play their cards.

[Their squad is too small at the moment for me to come up with an expected line up.]

Kochi [no “fancy” name has been released till now]

Squad:

Kochi_Team

Lets’s not get into how Kochi as an IPL team finally got here. I am sure all that has been well documented, much discussed and dissected. However, having finally got here, the team selection that panned out, seems really curious to me. The team if you look at it has a strong South Indian flavour. VVS [Hyderabad], Vinay Kumar[Bangalore], Sreesanth [Kerela], Jayawardene, Muralitharan and Perera [Sri Lanka] to name a few. Now the Kochi team hasn’t really picked the best batting line-up of the IPL, nor is it the worst either. They are strong on the spin department and do average on both the fast bowling front and allrounders. They bought 17 players in the auction [7 Indian, 10 Foreigners] and seem to have a grip on where the money is going. The next challenge would be to fill up the squad judiciously, a challenge most other squads are already struggling with.

Expected Line Up:

  1. Brendon McCullum*
  2. Mahel Jayawardene*
  3. VVS Laxman
  4. Parthiv Patel
  5. Steven Smith*
  6. Ravindra Jadeja
  7. –?–[spot for another Indian batsman]
  8. Ramesh Powar
  9. RP Singh
  10. Sreesanth
  11. Muralitharan

Not the most balanced of line-ups. Kochi needs to figure out a good way of fitting in their Foreign players or a lot of them will be left un-utilised. The opening pair of McCullum and Jayawardene should be exciting to watch. Otherwise the batting looks thin.

Kings XI Punjab [KXIP]

Squad:

KXIP_Team

Another of the troubled franchisees who went through a lot of internal turmoil, but now hopefully everything is behind this team which promised a lot, but stunningly failed to deliver. Getting rid of Yuvraj Singh at this point was the best decision the franchise could have made and the man replacing him is even better, an absolute legend who knows a thing or two about building a team, having guided Deccan Chargers to IPL glory in 2009 [read: Adam Gilchrist]. Having Gilchrist as a captain will bring a lot of stability. Also, with Shaun Marsh in the team, KXIP will resolve their first major problem of earlier events, that of an aggressive opening combination. In the earlier versions, KXIP had a make-shift opening combination which often resulted in the team getting off to a poor start. In a game where a few overs can decide everything, KXIP always started with a handicap. This time, it has been corrected. Having said this, the batting still looks weak and they would really have to to recruit the best of Indian domestic talent to fill this hole. Spinners in this format are very important, but spending $900,000 on someone who isn’t even competent enough to represent the country [read: Piyush Chawla], doesn’t seem a very smart or economical decision to me. The team’s strength lies in its fast bowling resources, but even that has a *conditions apply* tag. Stuart Broad will only be available for 2 weeks and Ryan Harris, although a supreme bowler, isn’t the fittest of the lot. There are lot of chinks in the team, but with expert guidance and some smart thinking, this team can finally deliver on its potential.

Expected Line Up:

  1. Adam Gilchirst*
  2. Shaun Marsh*
  3. Dinesh Karthik
  4. David Hussey*
  5. Abhishek Nayar
  6. –?–[Another Indian batsman/allrounder]
  7. Piyush Chawla
  8. Stuart Broad*
  9. Praveen Kumar
  10.   –?–
  11.   –?–

Like I said, the team has many holes/vacancies. But with good selections from the domestic contingent, this team may turn out to be the dark horse of the tournament.

This completes Part –1 of squad reviews. I shall review the other 5 teams in another blog-post. Opinions and Judgements are always welcome!!

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11 thoughts on “IPL 4: Meet the teams [Part–1]

    • Ya, I think he is going to be. Initially he was supposed to play RCB, but then backed out. Now he might come as a “mentor” for the team.

  1. rcb sucksssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3:-)

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