IPL Returns!!!

Josh Hazlewood

The return of the Indian Premier League is just days away and although the league finds itself in unfamiliar territory the return of all the big hitters is sure to bring delight to the millions of viewers around the world. It has certainly been a challenging year for all of us this year but hopefully the return of the IPL can bring back joy and perhaps even some normality into our lives. The IPL moves to the United Arab Emirates this year as it did for a part of the 2014 season, this time due to the growing number of Covid-19 cases in India rising. All of the eight franchises are on board with the move and the matches will be played at three selected venues (the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai and the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah) which have all been specially prepared for the event. We have broken the franchises down for you to give you a rundown of each team so that you can decide who wins this year’s coveted trophy.

Chennai Super Kings

MS Dhoni returns to captain his beloved Chennai Super Kings who have always opted for experience over youth and this season appears no different. The IPL powerhouses who have won three IPL trophies and have never failed to reach the play-offs have added Josh Hazlewood to there bowling attack and he is known for his impeccable accuracy with the new ball. They have also strengthened their spin attack adding Piyush Chawla who is one of only four bowlers to boast over 150 IPL wickets. With established T20 stars such as Shane Watson and Imran Tahir returning the Super Kings will be hopeful that they can avenge there one run defeat to their archrivals the Mumbai Indians last year. And watch out for there all rounder Sam Curren who is useful with both bat and ball and who executes an excellent yorker which could be vital in later stages of games. Look for the Super Kings to make another run to the finals this year.

Delhi Capitals

The only side never to reach an IPL final will be hoping that their young side can build on last years run to the play-offs where they were beaten by eventual runners up Chennai. The introduction of Ajinkya Rahane should add stability to the top order alongside Shikhar Dhawan and Jason Roy and with Marcus Stoinis impressive form in the Big Bash League they will be hopeful that there batting line up can see them over the line in games. However there bowling unit appears depleted after they released both Trent Boult and Chris Morris and with Chris Woakes having opted out of playing their hopes will rest on Kagiso Rabada although he is currently battling an injury at present. The Capitals may struggle to build on last year and with there lack of experience they may struggle to make the play-offs.

Kings XI Punjab

Punjab who start this season in search of there first ever IPL trophy will need to change their fortunes having not made the top five for the past five seasons. Although they released Ravichandran Ashwin they have spent big this year securing the services of Glenn Maxwell, Chris Jordan and James Neesham. They have also retained the services of KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran who will all be looking to help new coach Anil Kumble get off to get good start. Perhaps their biggest assets lay off the field with Jonty Rhodes taking up the role of fielding coach and Courtney Walsh there new talent scout, look for the Kings XI to push for a play-off spot.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The Knight Riders have qualified for the play-offs on three of the past five occasions but have lacked consistency when it has mattered. There is no doubting there flamboyant, entertaining style leaves you on the edge of your seat, but they have lacked the cutting edge when it has mattered most. Kolkata have gone all out this year picking up Pat Cummins making him the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history. They have also added England’s World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan so they should have some new leaders on the field to help in those knife edge games. They have installed a new head coach in Brendon McCullum and he will be hoping that his side wont be as reliant on Andre Russell this year as they was last year. They have also freshened the side up releasing both Lynn and Uthappa and replaced them with emerging talents Tom Banton and Shubman Gill. Its an exciting year for the Knight Riders that could see them go all the way.

Mumbai Indians

The most successful side and reigning IPL champions the Mumbai Indians will be looking to do what they have never done before this season and that is retain the IPL trophy. However, it will not be easy if history is anything to go by as the last time the IPL was in the UAE the Indians lost all five of there matches. Surprisingly with Mumbai’s limited budget they managed to secure the services of both Chris Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile along with some young local players hungry to make a name for themselves. Although there are positives in the signings made, they will surely be hit by the withdrawal of Lasith Malinga the IPL’s most successful bowler. Further still probably Mumbai’s greatest weakness is in their spin attack and with the slow UAE pitches they may find life difficult to retain their crown.

Rajastan Royals

The Royals are the first ever IPL winners, but this is something that they have never done since. Rajastan pride themselves on giving home grown talent a chance and they have managed to retain the core of their squad from last season. The Royals boast a very decent bowling attack in the form of Jofra Archer, Andrew Tye and Tom Curran. They have added David Miller and Robin Uthappa to their star-studded all-rounders Jos Butler, Steve Smith and Ben Stokes although it is still not clear if Ben Stokes will play or not yet. If Uthappa and Miller can see the Royals off to better starts, then their middle order and bowling unit could see them go far this year.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB have reached the IPL finals on three occasions but unfortunately have always been the bridesmaid and never the bride. They have struggled in recent years finishing bottom in two of the last three seasons. However, they have some awesome batting power in Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers and Aaron Finch. They have added two overseas players to there bowling unit in Chris Morris and Kane Richardson. That said they still lack depth in their squad and are expected to struggle once again to make the play-offs.

Sunrisers Hydrabad

The Sunrisers have reinstated David Warner as their captain after he was removed from the position two years ago. Trevor Bayliss comes in to replace head coach Tom Moody and he brings with him title winning form having led Kolkata to victory in 2012 and 2014. In Warner and Bairstow the Sunrisers have arguably the best opening partnership in the league as they registered seven stands of fifty or more and four going onto reach one hundred last year. However as with last season they are often let down by a poor middle order and with Shakib Al Hasan absence it seems their struggles may continue.

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