The seventh season of the Indian Premier League kick starts in grand fashion on April 16 with Mumbai Indians going head to head with former champions, Kolkata Knight Riders.
The seventh season of the Indian Premier League kick starts in grand fashion on April 16 with Mumbai Indians going head to head with former champions, Kolkata Knight Riders. But before even a ball has been bowled, how are the teams faring? Which is the strong contender for the Title this year? In this first half of our preview, we take a look at the first four teams and highlight their strengths and weaknesses:
Chennai Super Kings:
Strengths – Simply put it, MS Dhoni. The skipper remains an integral part of the side and even with a list of controversies hogging the team; the Chennai Super Kings boast a huge talent of international cricketers in batting and bowling. A team that boasts the names of Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Brendon McCullum and Ravindra Jadeja; the opposition has a lot of homework to do.
Weakness – With 8 international stars in the team, which superstar will be selected and which one will be dropped. Coach Stephen Fleming and skipper MS Dhoni have to be particular in the selection process. Also, the Indian players besides the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja, are not quality.
Man to watch – Brendon McCullum
Strengths – The Delhi side have had six disappointing seasons in the IPL so far. Their star batsman, Virender Sehwag has left for greener pastures and now a ‘revamped’ squad will be led under the leadership of England outcast, Kevin Pietersen. The owners of the Daredevils surprised all, when they splurged out 12.5 crores of Rupees for Indian wicket-keeper batsman, Dinesh Karthik. Also, with batsmen like Murali Vijay, Ross Taylor and JP Duminy in the team, the Delhi side look a formidable line-up.
Weakness – the bowling does make sorry view. Except for Aussie Nathan Coulter-Nile and Protea, Wayne Parnell, none of the bowlers are of international quality. Jaidev Unadkat and Rahul Sharma have played International cricket but lack the experience on bigger stage.
Man to watch – Kevin Pietersen
Kings XI Punjab
Strengths – After six seasons under the cosh, the Kings XI Punjab are ready to bring in some silverware. Aussie T20 captain, George Bailey will be leading the side here and with Mitchell Johnson in the ranks, Punjab side will be a threat going into the IPL 7. Not to forget, India outcast, Virender Sehwag is also in the team and with him around, fireworks are surely guaranteed.
Weakness – How will they play the pinch hitters like Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the team if they are to play four international stars?
Man to watch – Mitchell Johnson
Kolkata Knight Riders
Strengths – Batting does provide a timely boost to the ‘KKR’ with Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan in the line-up. In the bowling department, Morne Morkel’s mere presence can be a huge advantage too.
Weakness – Gambhir and co. have a selection headache with if they can opt for Shakib Al-Hasan or Sunil Narine. Also, Yusuf Pathan remains a liability with his depleting form a big worry.
Man to watch – Gautam Gambhir