IPL 2019 : TEAM ANALYSIS AND PREVIEWS

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The next season of the Indian Premier League is set to start in two months’ time. This edition of the tourney promises to be an enthralling affair, with several teams looking strong. Most of the franchises had a productive auction last month and would be giving it all to win the global league.

We will take look at the updated squads for IPL 2019, strengths and weaknesses of IPL teams 2019, players to watch out for..

 

RAJASTHAN ROYALS 

  • Last Year Result:4th in the League Stage, Lost in the Eliminator
  • Key Players:Ashton Turner, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Jos Buttler
  • Players in:Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Shashank Singh, Liam Livingstone, Ashton Turner, Shubham Ranjane, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas

The biggest question on all of Rajasthan Royals fans is going to be over the availability of their star players. Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, and Jofra Archer. There is no question that these four will walk into the playing eleven if they are available to play.

England has already indicated that its players will have to leave the IPL early and all three Englishmen in the Rajasthan Royals squad are going to be picked for the ICC World Cup 2019.

This is why one of the primary aims for the Rajasthan Royals would have been to secure some quality fall back options. They have managed to get Ashton Turner for the middle order, an excellent buy, Oshane Thomas, and Liam Livingstone.

We are not too convinced about Thomas or Livingstone, to be honest. Oshane Thomas has pace but can be very expensive. The Rajasthan Royals already have Varun Aaron and Dhawal Kulkarni in their side, both players that can go for plenty of runs.

Liam Livingstone has done well in the Vitality Blast, but scoring runs in Indian conditions is a completely different set of skills.

Manan Vohra has been added to the Rajasthan Royals for this season as well. Manan Vohra is a bit of mystery. He basically comes into the limelight during the IPL and is not one of the better performers in domestic cricket otherwise. His claim to fame lies on the fact that he can bash the ball at the start of the inning but he cannot do that very consistently either.

Vohra has played some brilliant innings in the past but we definitely feel there were better options that the Royals passed up on.

The spin options look a bit thin. The Royals have Ish Sodhi, Shreyas Gopal, and K Gowtham. Sodhi may struggle to find a place in the side while the other two are still works in progress.

Archer was the highest wicket-taker for The Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018 with 15 scalps and Shreyas Gopal was the next on the list with 11.

Players like Ajinkya Rahane, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson, and Stuart Binny has stagnated in their careers. We feel the Rajasthan Royals missed an opportunity to try and recast the core of its side. As it stands right now, the Rajasthan Royals have some excellent overseas player with question marks over their availability and a set of Indian players that are not in the best of form heading into IPL 2019.

We are always wary of counting out the Rajasthan Royals, but their squad is not looking too encouraging at the moment.

Rajasthan Royals Strengths: Excellent crop of overseas players

Rajasthan Royals Weaknesses: Leading Indian players of the side are on their way down in their careers

Rajasthan Royals IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Sanju Samson

Rajasthan Royals IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Jaydev Unadkat

IPL 2019 Prediction: 8th

 

MUMBAI INDIANS 

  • Last Year Result:5th
  • Key Players:Quinton de Kock, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Rohit Sharma
  • Players in:Anmolpreet Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Pankaj Jaiswal, Rasikh Salam, Lasith Malinga, Barinder Sran

Mumbai Indians had a very disappointing IPL 2018 where they failed to reach the playoffs stage. It is no surprise that Rohit Sharma had one of his worst seasons in the Indian Premier League as well. The Mumbai Indians captain was able to score only 286 runs in the entire season and looked decidedly off-color.

Now, heading into IPL 2019, Rohit Sharma has firmly established himself as one of the best limited-overs players in the world. We are expecting a lot more from him this season. The highest scorer for the Mumbai Indians was Suryakumar Yadav with 512 runs. He, along with Ambati Rayadu in CSK, was the surprise players of the season.

We are not too sure Yadav can recreate the same kind of magic this in IPL 2019 also.

It is surprising that Mumbai Indians have opted not to change their batting lineup too much after the debacle that was last year. The team management has opted to keep faith with its same set of players and has just added Yuvraj Singh and youngster Anmolpreet Singh to their squad as batsmen.

Quinton de Kock was traded to the side from the Royal Challengers Bangalore and that could be a real coup for the Mumbai Indians. De Kock is a sensational T20 player who can go on some truly remarkable run-scoring sprees. He has also been in excellent form recently.

In fact, even the bowling additions to the squad are not too special. Lasith Malinga is far beyond his best and was actually mentor to the side in IPL 2018. He is back along with Barinder Sran, a bowler that has struggled to live up to his reputation.

Essentially, the first choice Mumbai Indian playing eleven does not change.

The onus of winning matches is going to go on their tried and test players like Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Kieron Pollard, and Mitchell McClenaghan. Perhaps one of the biggest questions will be over the availability of Jasprit Bumrah. Will the BCCI allow Jasprit Bumrah to play the full IPL with the ICC World Cup 2019 just a few weeks away?

Kieron Pollard is seeing a resurgence in his batting over the last few months and he is someone who we believe could really make a mark in IPL 2019.

We don’t think so but that is not something that can be predicted right now. Adam Milne and Jason Behrendorff are in the squad as well to shore up the fast bowling options.

The highest wicket-taker for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2018 was Hardik Pandya with 18 scalps. He was closely followed by Jasprit Bumrah with 17, and Mayank Markande with 15. The Pandya brothers add a lot of balance to the Mumbai Indians as the two best all-rounders in India.

The spinners of the side remain a little suspect, though. Markande was an unknown quantity in IPL 2018 but started to become less effective as the season went on. IPL 2019 could be much tougher for him and the Mumbai Indians don’t have too much back up.

Mumbai Indians Strengths: Strong core of Indian players, world-class all-rounders in the squad, stable squad

Mumbai Indians Weaknesses: Wrist spin options are thin, Bumrah and some overseas players may be rested before the World Cup

Mumbai Indians IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Quinton de Kock

Mumbai Indians IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Mitchell McClenaghan

IPL 2019 Prediction: 7th

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE 

  • Last Year Result:6th
  • Key Players:Virat Kohli, Shimron Hetmyer, AB de Villiers, Washington Sundar
  • Players in:Devdutt Padikkal, Milind Kumar, Himmat Singh, SHimron Hetmyer, Heinrich Klaasen, Prayas Ray Barman, Akshdeep Nath, Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube

It is hard to think of another side in the Indian Premier League that always seems to be stacked with so much talent and yet underperforms so consistently. One of the primary reason why RCB did not do too well in IPL 2018 was because of its batting.

Virat Kohli scored 530 runs for RCB while AB de Villiers scored 480 but the next best in the side was 252. For a team that struggled to take wickets and contain the opposition, this was not acceptable.

One of the factors that contributed to this lack of runs from RCB also had to do with the wicket.

Chinnaswamy Stadium, RCB’s home ground, has gone from being the best batting wicket in the country to one of the most difficult ones to score at in the IPL.

We expect this to be rectified this time around and for a much better set of playing surfaces to be available for the home side.

Let’s start by looking at RCB’s obvious strengths. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are probably the best two batsmen in the world. De Villiers is no longer playing international cricket and will come into the IPL fresher than ever. We think not playing international cricket is going to dull the game of any player but AB de Villiers could prove to be the exception to that rule.

Apart from Virat Kohli, though, there is a distinct lack of quality in RCB’s Indian batters. Devdutt Padikal, Milind Kumar, Himmat Singh, and Parthiv Patel are the other batters in the squad. Only Parthiv Patel has some proven success in the IPL and we don’t rate him too highly either.

Shimron Hetmyer was one of the more expensive buys for RCB and could play in the middle order or be moved up to open the batting as needed. The West Indian youngster made a massive impact during the Windies tour of India and will be hoping to make a mark on the IPL as well.

Three quality overseas all-rounders, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, and Colin de Grandhomme are also in the squad. Any of these three could be in the playing eleven and whoever misses out is going to be terribly unlucky. We personally would like Stoinis to start in the playing eleven.

Gurkeerat Singh and Shivam Dube have also been included in the RCB squad to help provide some homegrown quality down the order. Dubey was another expensive buy and has attracted a lot of interest because of his big hitting abilities. It will be interesting to see if he can translate his exploits to the IPL as well.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar are two superb spinners and should find their way in the side ahead of Pawan Negi. Umesh Yadav had a great time in IPL 2018 picking up wickets consistently with the new ball.

RCB has Nathan Coulter-Nile, Tim Southee, Mohammad Siraj, and Navdeep Saini to choose from among the fast bowlers as well.

Royal Challenger Bangalore Strengths: World Class batsmen and a slew quality of all-rounders

Royal Challenger Bangalore Weaknesses: No established opening batsman, Indian batsman apart from Virat Kohli are second rung, Indian fast bowlers slightly unpredictable

Royal Challenger Bangalore IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Shimron Hetmyer

Royal Challenger Bangalore IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Tim Southee

IPL 2019 Prediction: 6th

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS 

  • Last Year Result:Winners
  • Key Players: Faf Du Plessis, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo
  • Players in: Ruturaj Gaikwad and Mohit Sharma

The Chennai Super Kings are the most successful franchise in IPL history and they are also the defending champions this year. CSK did not try to fix what was already working and has decided to stick to much the same squad.

They have just added a middle order-batsman in Ruturaj Gaekwad and a fast bowler in Mohit Sharma to the squad. MS Dhoni’s desire to keep the same set of players around can be seen in the Mohit Sharma pick as well.

The biggest strength of CSK in 2018 was its batting. There were four players that scored over 400 runs in IPL 2018. No other team had that many players scoring over 400 runs.

Amabati Rayady top-scored with 602 runs, Shane Watson scored 555, MS Dhoni scored 455, and Suresh Raina scored 445 runs for CSK in the last IPL season. All of these players are going to be around in IPL 2019 as well alongside world-class batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Sam Billings, and Kedar Jadhav.

While there is some speculation about MS Dhoni’s batting abilities, CSK actually has a pretty strong batting side. It is also one which is not going to be affected by player availability issues too much. Faf du Plessis is the only batsman that could possibly leave the tournament early, but he played only six matches in IPL 2018 and CSK has plenty of backup for him.

All-rounders like Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, and David Willey also add a lot of depth to the batting.

The only concern we have is about Shane Watson. He is an IPL legend but age is surely catching up and it remains to be seen if he can as productive as he was in IPL 2018. No one scored as many centuries as he did last season and only one player hit more sixes.

CSK’s bowling was a big concern in IPL 2018 and they have not done much to address it. Only Shardul Thakur figured in the top-10 wicket-takers of last season coming in at 10th. Dwayne Bravo took 14 wickets but was unusually expensive and ineffective during the death overs.

The spin trio of Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja, and Harbhajan Singh are backed up by Karn Sharma. This could be a problem for CSK once again as Imran Tahir is probably going to leave IPL 2019 early and Harbhajan Singh is well past his prime.

A fast bowling lineup of Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, Deepak Chahar, and Lungi Ngidi is also not the most impressive. Ngidi did very well during the six matches he played but he is again likely to be a part of the South African ICC World Cup 2019 plans. The Indian fast bowlers in this list are those that have fallen from national reckoning as well.

CSK Strengths: Stable Batting core with plenty of international Indian batsmen

CSK Weaknesses: Bowling stocks look thin, some players are aging and past their prime

CSK IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Ambati Rayadu

CSK IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Dwayne Bravo

IPL 2019 Prediction: 5th

KINGS XI PUNJAB 

  • Last Year Result:7th
  • Key Players:Nicholas Pooran, Varun Chakravarthy, David Miller
  • Players in:Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Nicholas Pooran, Agnivesh Ayachi, Varun Chakravarthy, Darshan Nalkande, Harpreet Brar, Moises Henriques, Sam Curran, Mohammad Shami, Hardus Viljoen

The Kings XI Punjab side is another one of the sides that has chosen to reinvent itself completely ahead of this edition of the Indian Premier League. One of the most important things that we think the team did was to appoint Mike Hesson as the coach of the side.

We believe Hesson is one of the sharpest minds in world cricket and can help bring real expertise to running the side. Kings XI Punjab has managed to retain some of its core batsmen which performed well in IPL 2018 as well.

Lokesh Rahul scored 659 runs in IPL 2018 and was batting at his absolute best. His international form may have dipped since then but he could dominate the IPL once again. Mayank Aggarwal and Karun Nair are two of the most talented batsmen in Indian cricket right now. In the case of Mayank Aggarwal, international success and recognition will give him the confidence to do better in the IPL than ever before.

Kings XI has also added Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan to its crop of Indian batsmen. Chris Gayle gets another go in the IPL while some very exciting overseas players also join the squad. Nicholas Pooran, Sam Curran, and Moises Henriques are three very exciting picks.

Pooran did very well with the West Indies side in India, lit up the Caribbean Premier League, and did quite well in the Bangladesh Premier League also. He certainly has the talent and power to make a mark in the IPL. Moises Henriques has tasted sustained success with the Sunrisers in the past and will be available for the entire IPL season barring injury.

We are not sure of Sam Curran is worth a million dollars in T20 cricket but he can definitely be an exciting option with both bat and ball. The shortest format of the game is one where he still has a lot to prove and his bowling is not going to get the swing that he is used to in England.

Hardus Viljoen is a good pick. He has done extremely well in the Vitality Blast in previous years and has a good working relationship with Mike Hesson. R Ashwin and Varun Chakravarthy are probably going to be the Indian spin bowling options while Mujeeb is also present in the squad if needed.

Andrew Tye had a very successful IPL 2018 but has not been at his best in the Big Bash League this season. He could be one of the bigger overseas names to struggle for playing time in IPL 2019.

Overall, the Kings XI Punjab side has given itself a lot of options. It appears like the batting responsibilities are going to be handed over to the Indian batsmen with David Miller and Nicholas Pooran in the middle order.

Expect the side to be quite flexible with team selections and to make a lot of changes. R Ashwin likes to tinker and he has been given enough to keep him occupied for the entire season.

Kings XI Punjab Strengths: Squad covers all bases with exciting options. The Indian batsmen in the side are highly regarded.

Kings XI Punjab Weaknesses: Sam Curran and Hardus Viljoen are untested in the Indian conditions while Varun Chakravarthy is untested at this level of cricket. Finding the right set of players could be tricky with so many options.

Kings XI Punjab IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Mayank Aggarwal

Kings Xi Punjab IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Mohammad Shami

IPL 2019 Prediction: 4th

DELHI CAPITALS 

  • Last Year Result:Last
  • Key Players:Prithvi Shaw, Colin Munro, Trent Boult
  • Players in:Hanuma Vihari, Colin Ingram, Ankush Bains, Jalaj Saxena, Axar Patel, Bandaru Ayyappa, Sharfane Rutherford, Ishant Sharma, Keemo Paul, Nathu Singh

The newly christened Delhi Capitals are the only side competing in IPL 2019 that has not won a single playoff match in IPL history. For a side that is loaded with talent, the Delhi Capitals seem to underperform every single year.

They have once again made a large number of changes to try and address their outstanding issues and to blood in some new youngsters to try and revive the group. On paper, it looks like the Delhi Capitals should be a formidable side to face in IPL 2019.

They have the most promising lineup of young Indian batsmen in the entire Indian Premier League. Prithvi Shaw, Rishab Pant, and Shreyas Iyer are all going to feature in the playing eleven if they are fit. They have all represented India in international cricket and are considered to be among the most impressive batsmen of their generation.

Rishab Pant scored 684 runs with one century and was the second highest run-getter in IPL 2018. Shreyas Iyer also scored 411 runs while Prithvi Shaw scored 245 runs from just nine matches. The problem for the Delhi Capitals was the lack of runs from their overseas players.

This year, they have added Colin Ingram to bolster the batting and retained Colin Munro as well. These are excellent options. Colin Ingram has been successful in T20 leagues around the world and could do really well in IPL 2019 as well. Colin Munro is one of the most successful T20 batsmen in the world and deserves a longer run at the top of the order.

Chris Morris should be available for most of the tournament while Sharfane Rutherford and Keemo Paul are unlikely to be a part of the West Indies squad for IPL 2019 either. This means that the Delhi Capitals are going to have a full-strength squad to choose from.

We still have not mentioned one of the biggest acquisitions that the Delhi Capitals made ahead of IPL 2019. Shikhar Dhawan is now back in the Delhi side years after he first started with them. He is another IPL legend and makes the batting lineup immediately stronger.

The bowling lineup is looking quite dangerous with the likes of Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, and Amit Mishra in the squad.

Boult was the highest wicket-taker for the Delhi Capitals last season with 14 wickets and will the spearhead again. Boult alongside a much improved Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, and perhaps Chris Morris is going to be a seriously dangerous fast bowling attack.

One of the toughest things for the Delhi Capitals is going to be getting their team selections right. They have the players to be able to make an impact and perhaps make it to the playoffs this year. A strong squad has not translated to strong performances in the past but maybe the change in name can bring about a change in luck as well.

Delhi Capitals Strengths: Strong batting core of young Indian batsmen, depth in fast bowling

Delhi Capitals Weaknesses: Leadership has been a problem in the past and could continue to be so, Overseas batsmen unproven in Indian conditions

Delhi Capitals IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Prithvi Shaw

Delhi Capitals IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Trent Boult

IPL 2019 Prediction: 3rd

SUNRISERS HYDERABAD 

  • Last Year Result:1st after League Stage, Losing finalists
  • Key Players:Martin Guptill, Jonny Bairstow, Rashid Khan, Kane Williamson
  • Players in:Martin Guptill and Jonny Bairstow

SRH has been one of the most consistent IPL teams over the last few years. They have built a strong core of players and don’t like to shuffle them around too much. They are likely to be missing David Warner for the start and end of IPL 2019 which is why they opted to go for two potential openers.

Shikhar Dhawan, the other opener for them in IPL 2018, has also been transferred to the Delhi Capitals. SRH managed to extract Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, and Shahbaz Nadeem for Dhawan, but we still don’t think they came out on top of the trade.

Vijay Shankar has a lot to prove in both batting and bowling even though he is a consistent part of the national setup. Abhishek Sharma is a very talented youngster but he too has yet to translate his potential into consistent performances. Shahbaz Nadeem has not performed to expectations in the last couple of IPL seasons either.

The batting was led brilliantly by Kane Williamson in IPL 2018 as he scored over 700 runs. SRH will have to be careful, though, because their next highest scorer was Shikhar Dhawan with almost 500 runs, and then Manish Pandey with 284.

The loss of Dhawan could be a big one for SRH to overcome, particularly if Kane Williamson does not hit the same kind of form as last season.

Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan will have a big role to play with both bat and ball because the SRH batting is looking a little thin. Deepak Hooda is also another player that got a lot of chances last season but did not really make the most of them. SRH now has an option in Abhishek Sharma to replace him and that should keep him on his toes too.

The bowling for SRH is exceptional. Rashid Khan is the obvious standout name but they also have Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Basil Thampi, Siddharth Kaul, T Natrajan, Sandeep Sharma, Khallel Ahmed, and Billy Stanlake.

That is a lot of bowling options to have especially with the all-rounders thrown into the mix as well.

The SRH template over the years has been to have a strong bowling lineup that keeps you in every match and hope that a few of the batsmen hit form early in the IPL. This is obviously what they will be hoping for this year as well.

Sunrisers Hyderabad Strengths: The SRH bowling is perhaps the strongest in the IPL

Sunrisers Hyderabad Weaknesses: Batting looks weak and quite dependant on Kane Williamson

Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Jonny Bairstow

Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Rashid Khan

IPL 2019 Prediction: 2nd

KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS 

  • Last Year Result:3rd after the League Stage, Lost in Qualifier 2
  • Key Players:Chris Lynn, Anrich Nortje, Lockie Ferguson
  • Players in:Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikanth Mundhe, Carlos Brathwaite, Prithvi Raj, Harry Gurney, Anrich Nortje, Lockie Ferguson

The Kolkata Knight Riders were an excellent unit in IPL 2018 and we think they have made their side considerably stronger for IPL 2019. One of the problems that KKR was facing was a lack of depth in its squad.

The team only had 18 players in its squad, the least of any side in the IPL, and they have rectified that somewhat with 21 players picked this time around. All of the best performers from the previous season are around and some very good new names have been added too.

Dinesh Karthik was the highest scorer for the Kolkata Knight Riders with 498 runs to his name with Chris Lynn close behind with 491. Sunil Narine was the surprise package with the bat as he scored 357 runs at a strike rate of 189.89.

Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, and Shubhman Gill all scored over 300 runs as well. The batting order is pretty much unchanged for KKR except that they have brought in Joe Denly who could be a backup opener if Chris Lynn has to leave for the ICC World Cup 2019 early.

Carlos Braithwaite is a pretty similar like for like backup to Andre Russell. Considering how injury prone Russell has been in the past year or so, this is a prudent move from KKR.

The spin bowling department for KKR remains well-stocked and same as IPL 2018. Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, and Sunil Narine are all well-known names and bring some different talents to the table. In the case of Kuldeep Yadav, his bowling has improved dramatically in the last year and he could be a very big part of KKR’s plans this season.

Both Narine and Kuldeep ended IPL 2018 with 17 wickets to their name while Piyush Chawla took 14. The KKR fast bowling unit looked a little thin with just Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti last year. For IPL 2019, KKR has brought in Lockie Ferguson and Anrich Nortje to boost their reserves significantly. We believe these are two of the smartest buys in IPL 2019.

Lockie Ferguson is quick, has played T20 cricket around the world, and is one of the most economical bowlers in the death overs. Anrich Nortjelit up the Mzansi Super League with his blistering pace and could an X factor for the side.

Perhaps the only problem for KKR is going to be about giving all its players enough chances to shine. Overall, KKR has kept the majority of the squad together, having just released Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, and they have added some very good fast bowlers in return.

They have also managed to cover themselves in case some of their players have to leave for the ICC World Cup 2019 a little early. The team looks set to build on its strong foundations.

Kolkata Knight Riders Strengths: Stable core, world-class spin contingent, talented Indian youngsters

Kolkata Knight Riders Weaknesses: Backup overseas players are not quite in the same class as the first choice players

Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2019 Highest Run Scorer Prediction: Shubman Gill

Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2019 Highest Wicket Taker Prediction: Kuldeep Yadav

IPL 2019 Prediction: Winners

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