With the Indian Premier League knocking on our door, fans have already started speculating their big shots as their favourite teams take the field within three weeks. A majority of the players are already in UAE and has started with their self-quarantine before they take the field for training.
As the pandemic still rages on at its fullest force that created a massive dent on Chennai Super Kings as twelve members of their support staff and a fast bowler of the team tested positive, the others present in the team are willing to put in everything to rally their forces and mount a challenge on the glittering trophy that will be up for grabs at the end of this gruelling one and half months.
As we all know that the pitches in Dubai are a slight inclined towards the bowlers as it offers some movement throughout the course of the game and as time whizzes by, the pitch tends to become more sluggish, thereby making life hell for the batsmen. Going by this preconceived notion, the teams will have to align themselves accordingly that can give them an edge over others. In this piece, we will rate the batting line ups of all the IPL teams.
- Mumbai Indians – 9.3
A batting line up that sent them to the doors of glory in the preceding edition has been bolstered for the imminent season with the inclusion of Chris Lynn to the squad. They boast of one of the most attacking batting line ups of the tournament which may see Lynn and Sharma, two of the tournament’s best openers giving them the required leeway while exploiting the powerplay.
With De Kock in the lineup, Sharma has the leeway of probably rotating himself a bit lower in the order that will present the team with an opportunity to field a right hand-left hand batting combination at the top of the innings. Up next will be Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, who are both capable of stabilizing the innings and hammer in the latter half as they are gifted with the ability to go big.
As we go further down the order, Pollard will be taking the field next and we are all aware of the destruction that he saddles upon himself once he comes out to bat. The line up doesn’t end here as we have the Pandya brothers lined up for further destruction.
There is one tiny glitch that will need plugging as the team will have to choose between Ishan Kishan and an untested Anmolpreet Singh in the middle. Ishan is a very talented hard-hitter but has failed to deliver under pressure. This has created a gap between the opening and the tail-end where Pollard and Pandya enter the stage to slog, which at times can cost them close to 10 to 12 runs, which can equate to a fortune, as they lifted the trophy in the preceding year, pipping Chennai by a solitary run.
- Kolkata Knightriders – 9
The Kolkata based franchise worked out their last piece of the puzzle as they on-boarded Tom Banton and Eoin Morgan on their already glittering ship. The team savoured every ingredient in their lineup that saw them cutting close to the play-offs in the precursor edition of the tournament. The only gap that needed to be filled was a middle-order stabilizer.
As former English skipper, Eoin Morgan returns to the side, he will be the answer to their most pressing problem of an anchor to the innings that can see the likes of Russell and Banton going for the kill. With Lynn departing for Mumbai, KKR brought on a future English superstar, Tom Banton. The brand of cricket that this youngster has played in the Big Bash League is more than enough to kindle the hopes of the management that has Mc Cullum at their helm.
They can pick Shubman Gill for the opening slot that will give them a better option going into the tail as Narine can come up with his big hits in the number 7 position. Nitish Rana has been a brilliant player in the Kolkata ranks as he proved time and time again that why he is one of the best number three batsmen of the league.
With Morgan coming in next, he can play the most crucial role of stabilizing the innings in case of an apocalypse or he can steady the innings to that extent where Russell walks in and carries the match away with his devastating blitzkrieg.
In case if the big man fails, we will still have Narine to go for the kill who comes in after their skipper Dinesh Kartik. The second-most successful keeper of the fray, Kartik can also slam a few biggies when the situation presses him to do so with the Nidahas Trophy final being a burning example.
As the batting line up digs deeper for Kolkata Knightriders, we have seen Lockie Ferguson at times swinging the bat wildly enough to consign the cherry to the stands.
- Delhi Capitals – 8.5
As the Delhi Capitals take the field again after an impressive previous season which saw them cutting very close to the finals only to be undone by the experience of Chennai, they are expected to pack a powerful punch for the upcoming season of the tournament.
With names like Alex Carey, Jason Roy and Shimron Hetmeyer added to their ranks, Delhi will focus on sharpening their batting skills under the chaperonage of former great, Ricky Ponting.
Most probable options for their opening partnership will be Jason Roy and Shikhar Dhawan. Despite Prithvi Shaw being in red hot form in the precursor edition of the tournament, Ponting will have good causes ahead of him to go for the experienced duo as Dubai isn’t really kind to youngsters.
Captain Shreyas Iyer will be a big name for the Capitals as the youngster has cemented his name in the national squad that saw him clubbing the Australian bowlers in the series finale in January. The man to accompany him will be India’s next big thing, Rishabh Pant. The hard-hitting southpaw can smoke the bowlers mercilessly once he gets going. To add to the power of this dynamic duo, Shimron Hetmeyer will be a titanic addition as the West Indian batsman can be a valued asset to the team, given his prolific hitting ability that comes in sync with a steady head.
However, their batting depth isn’t as great as one would expect it to be. In case if Pant and Iyer fail on a certain day, they will be staring at dead defeat with Ashwin being their solitary glimmer of hope.
- Kings XI Punjab – 8
Punjab is a team of varied experimentations as the solitary fixed names on the squad will be the two openers. The Universe Boss, Chris Gayle and India’s rising sensation KL Rahul will open the innings for Punjab who will be followed by the Caribbean big-hitter, Nicholas Pooran.
However, their middle order isn’t really the glam that their fans would expect them to be as they face a contrasting quandary to choose between veterans of the game who won’t be comfortable with the gruesome demands of the unfavourable pitch and exciting youngsters who can be impressive but will need proper guidance. James Maxwell will be the first pick for their number four as the Australian can smash his way to Punjab’s dominance in the tournament like that in 2014.
The Punjab middle order will be pinning their hopes on youngsters like Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Deepak Hooda. Agarwal and Sarfaraz have proven themselves to be abled competitors, however, Mandeep Singh and Deepak Hooda’s tryst with inconsistency can be a major setback for Punjab.
Despite all of this, the reason Punjab still walks away with an 8 is because of the presence of two of the world’s biggest names of the shortest format of the game. Maxwell and Gayle, the two linchpins of T20 cricket can flip the game on its head if they can get going.
- Rajasthan Royals – 7.5
Despite possessing a fine slew of foreign players in their ranks, the winning element has always seemed elusive to Royals due to the lack of that X-factor which comes through a stable Indian cricketer. With Steven Smith at the helm of affairs, they will be able to utilize Jos Butler at the top of the innings, given his merciless hitting flair.
It is expected to be Yashashvi Jaiswal who will be the preferred opener to Sanju Samson as Butler can take care of the keeping responsibility. The onus of holding the innings in a piece will fall on the shoulders of their leader, Steven Smith, who is yet to establish himself as a stellar option in T-20 cricket, despite being one of the finest cricketers in the longer formats of the game.
Ben Stokes will have to be a crucial role-player in the ranks of Rajasthan Royals if the Pink Warriors are to challenge for a title again. He houses the ability to go big but his last couple of seasons with the Royals isn’t exactly a beacon of hope.
They do have a certain David Miller who was capable of unleashing hell upon opponents in a glorious earlier version of himself but the South African stalwart is not even close to his former glorious self. However, if Miller gets going, he can leave the opposition in absolute devastation.
With all said and done, Riyan Parag and Mahipal Lomror will be exciting young options to watch out for, if Royals are contemplating another title challenge.
- Chennai Super Kings – 7
The team could have very well attained the status of the best batting status out of the eight if Suresh Raina wouldn’t have opted out of the tournament due to family reasons. Relying on old horses like Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and Mahendra Dhoni, the exciting aspect of Chennai will be missing.
With Kedhar Jadhav and Dwayne Bravo falling from their former glory, Sam Curran and Ravindra Jadeja will be the biggest hope in the upcoming days for Chennai. However, their biggest hope in the imminent edition of the tournament will be heroics from a 39-year-old Dhoni who can flip the innings in a flash of an eye.
Unfortunately, he isn’t the same hitter that he used to be. Hence with a bowling friendly pitch playing a crucial role in the shaping of the batting line up, Chennai doesn’t really share the same hope that their fans do.
- Royal Challengers Bangalore – 7.5
This rating for the Challengers is highly subjective as the jersey holds a curse of even making the best fail. They possess the two best batting options of the tournament in their ranks, going by the name of Virat Kohli and Abraham Benjamin De Villiers.
However, once you detract these two names from the glittering equation and the batting skeleton opens up with a bone or two showing glaring creaks. Despite having the likes of Aaron Finch and Parthiv Patel, the duo is rendered toothless as soon as the spinners kick in and the fielders pervade themselves out of the circle.
Of course, Kohli and De Villiers can invoke the much-needed destruction for Bangalore but only if the duo gets going. Shivam Dube is still a million miles away from being the flame of excellence deep down the order. Moeen Ali and Chris Morris can be just picks, however, the duo is highly capricious and are more renowned for their bowling flair instead of their heroics with the blade.
- Sunrisers Hyderabad – 6.5
They have the best opening pair of IPL but that is all that their batting has. David Warner and Johnny Bairstow are beasts of the game who can smash the ball a good deal of distance and can also play some fine strokes with the field rolled in. However, once the duo is snuffed out, the names that Sunrisers usually have up their sleeves isn’t something to be proud of.
Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar are all about if’s and but’s. With such a high rate of uncertainty about one’s form, it is better to not really hope for a title. Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, Virat Singh and Abdul Samad being the likeliest contenders to constitute the middle-order for the Orange Army when the team will need someone to slog, they have none.
With now power-hitter in their ranks, Sunrisers may see Rashid Khan stepping up at number seven to carry on some batting drills before he sparks magic with the cherry in hand.