Welcome to our 2018 Indian Premier League season preview. Here we will try to navigate you through this years IPL season. We believe it is going to be a real dozy and we are all looking forward being glued to the screen. At the end of this article, we have a prediction for you when it comes to which team you should go for if you are planning to place a bet on this years IPL. We can also remind you that you have some very favorable free bets at Spin Palace Sports so if you are looking for a betting site we can highly recommend making an account there. Read our detailed review of Spin Palace Sports HERE. So good luck on your online cricket betting, and we hope you enjoy reading our whole preview! BTW, check out our free cricket betting tips page HERE.
The 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League will be the 11th season of the professional Twenty20 cricket league started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2007. The tournament will be held in India across 10 venues from 7th April to the 27th of May 2018. There will be 8 teams participating in this 60-match extravaganza played in a double round robin format followed by the knockouts. Each team will play every other team twice home and away with the top four teams based on aggregate points and Net Run Rate (NRR) qualifying for the playoffs.
Hero IPL 2018 will see the return of Chennai Super Kings, the most successful franchise in the history of the IPL, and Rajasthan Royals after serving 2 years of suspension for the involvement of their owners in corruption. The player auctions were held on the 27th and 28th of January 2018 in Bangalore with 169 players being sold during the auction. Ben Stokes as with the previous edition drew the highest bid at 1.95 million dollars whereas seasoned players such as Lasith Malinga, Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Joe Root etc. going unsold. This year for the first time in the tournament’s history the Decision Review System (DRS) will be utilized for decision making.
The 8 teams participating in this edition of the IPL are Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Delhi Daredevils (DD), Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Mumbai Indians (MI), Rajasthan Royals (RR), Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SH). Defending champions Mumbai Indians will host Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2018 season opener.
Chennai Super Kings are the most successful team in the history of the IPL with a win percentage of 60.68% over the years and they have won the title twice. However, Mumbai Indians with 3 titles won leads the pack based on the number of matches won in total. They have won 91 out of 157 matches played over 10 seasons of the IPL. Kolkata Knight Riders have won the tournament twice under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir while Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the now defunct Deccan Chargers have won the title once.
Royal Challengers Bangalore has had the strongest batting lineup on paper over the past 10 years. They account for the 2 highest team totals of the tournament with 263 for 5 wickets against Pune Warriors in 2013 and 248 for 3 against Gujarat Lions in 2016. Chennai Super Kings has been the other batting powerhouse with two scores of 240 plus, scoring 246 for 5 against Rajasthan Royals in 2010 and 240 for 5 against Kings XI Punjab in 2008. RCB also has had batting debacles being shot out for 49 against the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2017, which is the lowest total of the tournament. Delhi Daredevils have the worst tournament record in terms of losses with 82 losses in total with two of the 5 lowest team totals to boot. They were shot out for 66 and 67 respectively in 2017 and have always been a susceptible batting outfit. Victory margins have been mammoth sometimes epitomizing the gulf in talent between some teams. A 146 run victory for Mumbai Indians against the Delhi Daredevils in 2017 is the largest victory margin by runs. RCB again has 3 of the largest victories in the history of the tournament with 144, 138 a 130 run wins against Gujarat Lions, Kings XI Punjab and Pune Warriors respectively.
Suresh Raina holds the record for the most number of runs in IPL history. Raina has scored 4540 runs in 157 innings in the IPL so far. In fact, the top 4 run scorers of IPL history are all Indians with Virat Kohli the Indian skipper playing for RCB in 2nd place with 4418 runs in 141 innings followed by Rohit Sharma the Mumbai Indians skipper in 3rd place with 4207 runs. Chris Gayle playing for RCB in 2013 scored the highest individual score in IPL and in T20 history with a whirlwind knock of 175 not out off 66 balls. His 100 off 30 balls, is the fastest T20 hundred ever in the game. In fact, Gayle has won the most number of ‘Man of the match’ awards in the history of IPL with 18 such awards. Brendon McCullum’s 158 in the first ever IPL game in 2008 is still 2nd in the list followed by two centuries by AB de Villiers of RCB.
As expected ‘the king of T20 cricket’, Christopher Henry Gayle has hit 265 sixes in total in 100 innings with 17 sixes in an innings also being a record. Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma are a distant 2nd and 3rd in the list of most sixes hit with 173 and 172 sixes respectively. IPL has seen quick-fire innings over the years with Yusuf Pathan’s 37-ball century for Rajasthan Royals and David Miller’s 38-ball century for Kings XI Punjab being innings of note. Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan have both scored half-centuries off just 15 deliveries with Andre Russell playing for Kolkata Knight Riders with a strike rate of 173.41 having the highest overall strike rate for a batsman who has faced a minimum of 125 balls. It is not often that you see a double century partnership in a T20 match. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers achieved this rare feat for Royal Challengers Bangalore putting up a mammoth partnership of 229 runs in 2016.
The leading wicket-taker in IPL history is Sri Lankan legend ‘Slinger’ Lasith Malinga. He has taken 154 wickets in 110 innings playing for Mumbai Indians. 3 Indian spinners namely, Amit Mishra, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla hold the next 3 spots in the bowling rankings. Dwayne Bravo the highest wicket-taker in all forms of T20 cricket playing for CSK has taken 122 wickets in 103 matches through his intelligent variations. Pakistani Sohail Tanvir holds the record for the best bowling figures in an innings capturing 6 wickets for 14 runs against Chennai Super Kings in 2008. It is interesting to note that Anil Kumble the leg-spinning legend from India also is the best bowlers list with astonishing figures of 5 for 5 in 3.1 overs against Rajasthan Royals. Sunil Narine accounts for the best economy rate of 6.33 runs per over across 82 matches in a batsman dominated game. There have been 17 hat tricks in the history of IPL with Amit Mishra having done it thrice in 2008, 2011 and in 2013.
In addition to the Indian Premier League trophy, the teams and players are vying for several other awards. Discipline is something valued immensely in the wonderful gentleman’s game of cricket. The team that conducts themselves the best as voted by the umpires will be awarded the ‘Fair play award’. Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings have normally been in the reckoning for this award often during the previous editions.
Individual brilliance is immensely appreciated in Indian Premier League. As a result, a whole heap of awards will be given away to the players that perform admirably well. The highest run scorer of the tournament is awarded the ‘Orange Cap’ and the highest wicket taker is awarded the ‘Purple Cap’. In addition to these, the player who hits the most number of sixes in the tournament is awarded the ‘Maximum Sixes Award’. The ‘player of the match (final)’ and ‘most valuable player’ awards are given away in recognition of the performances at the day of the finals. IPL also recognizes young talent and encourages newcomers first by drafting in under 19 players directly into IPL teams. The ‘Emerging player of the year’ award is presented to the best under-23 player of the tournament who has played only a handful of international games or none to encourage players in their journey towards becoming an international star. Thus players such as Rohit Sharma, Saurabh Tiwary, Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer and Mustafizur Rahman have all gone on to represent their countries with dignity at the international level.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians are owned by the Ambanis of the famous reliance industry, Mukesh, and Nita. They are normally known to spend lavishly in order to obtain the best combination for the team. However, this year at the auction some of the decisions they’ve made are highly questionable.
Mumbai Indians are coached by Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardena and led by Indian opening batsman Rohit Sharma. Rohit Sharma completed 7000 runs across all formats of T20 cricket during the recently concluded Nidahas trophy tournament in India and is their leading batsman. They surprisingly released English batsman Jos Buttler and did not buy him during the auction, which was a huge surprise. The batting lineup consists of 19-year-old left-handed opener Ishan Kishan, West Indian Ewin Lewis, Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya, his brother Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Suryakumar Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary, Aussie batsman Aiden Blizzard, JP Duminy and wicket-keeper batsman Aditya Tare to name a few. JP Duminy joins Mumbai Indians for the first time making a move from Delhi Daredevils. He is coming from a good Pakistan Super League series where he was in great form for Islamabad United. The Pandya brothers have always been match-winners for them. Krunal bats left-handed in the middle striking at over 160 per 100 balls and bowls left-arm spin to add variety to the bowling. This IPL we might see Hardik Pandya being moved higher up the batting order with Mumbai Indians trying to make better use of his attacking stroke play. Pollard has been an important cog in Mumbai Indians wheel with the burly West Indian having put on stellar performances over the years. His back to the wall knock of 60 off 32 balls in the 2013 finals against Chennai Super Kings, a few other 70 plus scores in different IPL editions along with his acrobatic fielding makes him an eye-catching player in the side. Nicolas Pooran, the 20-year-old left-hander from West Indies makes the team along with Siddhesh Lad to bolster the Mumbai Indians batting lineup. It would be interesting to see whether they would be given a proper run during the tournament.
Mumbai Indians are sans Lasith Malinga and Mitch McClenaghan who were both not picked up during the auctions. Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman, India’s Jaspreet Bumrah and Australia’s Pat Cummins who would be given the responsibility of bowling with the new ball will lead the bowling attack. Bumrah with 46 wickets in 47 matches is the most experienced bowler in the side. Pradeep Sangwan is another fast bowler in the side who could be rotated with the main fast bowlers of the side. Jason Behrendorff and Rahul Chahar are two other fast bowlers the Mumbai Indians team this year. Akila Dananjaya, the mystery spinner from Sri Lanka is included in the squad and it will be interesting to see how Mumbai Indians will utilize his services. 37-year old Harbhajan Singh will be playing for CSK this year after spending 10 years with Mumbai Indians. This may be an indication of utilizing Akila as the main spinner of the side. Keep an eye out for the other all-rounders namely, Ben Cutting, Tajinder Singh and Anukul Roy who may get a game if the Indians look at rotating their primary all-rounders to give them a rest.
Mumbai Indians have always depended on teamwork to overcome adversity over the years. This year they will be playing with a relatively inexperienced side sans popular names of past seasons. It will be interesting to see how Rohit Sharma motivates his troops to mount a good title defence.
The yellow jerseys are back after two years in the wilderness. CSK have been a dominant force in IPL over the years and it would be fascinating to see whether they are able to find their winning ways again. Chennai Super Kings Sports Company Limited owns the franchise. The management has picked quite a few of the trusted and proven players that played for CSK in the previous editions. Iconic skipper MS Dhoni with Stephen Fleming as their head coach will be at the helm leading the team. ‘Mr. Cricket’ Michael Hussey joins the team as the batting coach for the first time with Lakshmipathy Balaji the former Indian player joining as the bowling coach. The team from Tamil Nadu will have M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai as their home ground.
Chennai retained MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and Ravindra Jadeja from their IPL 2015 squad before the player auctions began. Chennai bought Kedar Jadhav the 32-year old right-hander who played for Delhi Daredevils previously. Also in the squad, as batsmen are Protea captain Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay and 25-year-old right-hander Dhruv Shorey.
Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson are the key all-rounders of the side. Watson, in fact, had a great time with both bat and ball at the Pakistan Super League and would continue his belligerence during this IPL. Karn Sharma the left-handed batsman and right-arm leg-spin bowler is another key all-rounder in the side with an immense amount of IPL experience. Sam Billings is in the squad as a wicketkeeper but may be included in the final 11 purely as a batsman.
Chennai has a really strong bowling lineup this season with Protea Lungi Ngidi and Englishman Mark Wood joining the franchise. Wood, in fact, is making his IPL debut and should be a handful with his fast and accurate bowling. Shardul Thakur who made his presence felt during the recently concluded Nidahas trophy tournament in Sri Lanka will share the new ball with youngsters Monu Kumar, Deepak Chahar, and KM Asif as backup fast bowlers. The inclusion of 38-year-old South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir and 37-year-old Indian veteran Harbhajan Singh have bolstered the spin department. Tahir, in fact, had a good PSL and would look to continue his good work during the IPL.
Chennai Super Kings by selecting proven players have a slightly older set of players to those from the other franchises. Thus they seem to lack a bit of youthful exuberance and zing on paper. With MS Dhoni’s prowess as a power hitter down the order waning it would be interesting to see who will be entrusted with the role of the finisher in this CSK team.
Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, Mohit Burman and Karan Paul, owns the franchise from Punjab. After 3 moderate IPL seasons, the ardent fans of Kings XI Punjab were yearning for a fresh start with a new captain and a fresh set of personnel. The franchise has certainly achieved this objective during this year’s auction. They have selected a new leader in Ravichandran Ashwin who will captain an IPL side for the first time in his career. The picturesque Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium up in Mohali is the franchise’s home ground and they have Aussie T20 specialist Brad Hodge as their head coach.
The team’s batting unit is probably the strongest on paper among all teams with big hitters Aaron Finch, David Miller and Chris Gayle all being part of the team. Chris Gayle who initially went unsold during the player auction was picked by for USD 306,000. The batting unit also has KL Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary and Karun Nair who have all had international experience. Mayank Agarwal who played for RCB in the previous editions has been picked up by KXIP to further bolster the batting unit. Marcus Stoinis the Aussie middle order batsman gets a call-up to the side with his teammate ‘the big show’ Glenn Maxwell not be picked up by them this year.
The only player to be retained from the last edition is left-handed all-rounder Axar Patel. He along with Yuvraj Singh, Ravi Ashwin and 16-year-old Afghan sensation Mujeeb Zadran will be the spinners in the side. Mujeeb, in fact, has gone on to represent his country at this tender age and is certainly someone to watch out for in this year’s IPL. The fast bowling unit is a bit bare with a lot depending on Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran who have all had international exposure. 23-year-old Ben Dwarshuis gets a call-up after a good show during the Big Bash League.
It will be interesting to see whether KXIP’s gamble of a complete change in personnel works in their favour and help them have their best season in IPL’s yet.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad, the franchise cricket team from Hyderabad will appear in their 6th IPL in 2018 after serving two years in suspension from the competition due to an involvement of their players in match-fixing in 2013. David Warner with Tom Moody as their head coach captains the team this season as well. The owner of the franchise is Kalanithi Maran of Sun Network with Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan as their bowling coach and VVS Laxman as the side’s mentor. Their home ground is the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 55,000.
Sunrisers retained their skipper David Warner and star Indian opening bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Kumar, in fact, won the purple cap in last 2 IPL seasons and would look to make it a hat-trick of purple cap wins. The Hyderabad side has a strong opening combination with Shikhar Dhawan to slot in with David Warner. Kane Williamson the Kiwi captain will occupy the number 3 slot with Manish Pandey bought at 1.7 million USD to control the middle order batting. Sunrisers also have Shakib Al Hasan the Bangladeshi T20 captain and Carlos Brathwaite the West Indies T20 captain in their ranks. Yusuf Pathan the 35-year-old power hitter who was released by KKR joins the Sunrisers middle order along with Wriddhiman Saha released from KXIP expected to get the wicketkeeper’s job ahead of Shreevats Goswami. Mohammad Nabi the experienced spin bowling all-rounder from Afghanistan will make his IPL debut and will fight for a place in the side with Deepak Hooda the 22-year-old who got his first call-up to the national side in the recently concluded Nidahas trophy tournament.
Sandeep Sharma who had a good run with Kings XI Punjab joins Sunrisers this year and should take up the new ball with Bhuvi. Both bowlers are able to swing the ball both ways with subtle changes to wrist position and would post a big challenge to opposition batsman where variation is key in T20 matches. Chris Jordan the energetic Englishman is also in the side and will assume fast bowling duties with Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi, and Khaleel Ahmed. Probably the most important acquisition made by Sunrisers is securing Rashid Khan the Afghani teenage sensation. At the age of 19, Rashid has travelled the world playing in T20 leagues all around the world and was recently appointed the captain of the Afghanistan side at the world cup qualifiers.
Sunrisers Hyderabad has performed well under the leadership of David Warner. They will look to stamp their authority again in the tournament with this new look team.
Kolkata Knight Riders are the franchise cricket team representing the city of Kolkata and are owned by Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, actress Juhi Chawla and her spouse Jay Mehta of Mehta Group. This year the side will be captained by Dinesh Karthik and coached by Jacques Kallis. Their home ground is Eden Gardens, which is the largest cricket stadium in India. The Knight Riders didn’t have good outings initially but started performing with time. They hold the record for the longest winning streak by an Indian team in T20 cricket with 14 wins on the trot and have won the IPL twice in 2012 and 2014.
Gautam Gambhir who is the highest run-getter for them over the years and their inspirational captain is not in the side this year. The responsibility of captaining the side has now been entrusted upon Dinesh Karthik who will also be the wicketkeeper of the side. DK, as he is popularly known, had a memorable outing in the Nidahas trophy finals blasting 29 off 8 balls to clinch a victory for India from the jaws of defeat. He will look to motivate his KKR teammates along to achieve similar heights during this season. Rohin Uthappa is the Vice Captain of the side and has been a permanent fixture in IPLs. Chris Lynn the Aussie big hitter will play at the top of the order and will look to get the team off to a quick start. The rest of the batting line up is made up of the lesser-known commodity in the form of Nitish Rana, Ishank Jaggi, Shubnam Gill, Rinku Singh, Apoorv Wankhade and South African Cameron Delport.
Andre Russell and Sunil Narine the highest wicket-taker for the franchise over the years are the main all-rounders of the side. Kamlesh Nagarkoti the 18-year-old who represented the victorious Indian under-19 team in the youth world cup will be the player to watch out for this year with his right arm fast bowling. KKR’s bowling attack is probably the strongest in the tournament with Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson expected to spearhead the attack with their left-arm thunderbolts. Kuldeep Yadav the left-arm chinaman bowler who has had a great year in Indian colours along with Piyush Chawla will be the other spinners in the side who are expected to bowl in tandem with Narine. Shivam Mavi and Vinay Kumar are the other fast bowlers in the side.
Overall, the Kolkata Knight Riders have a good record in IPL. They have won over 50% of matches they have played with 6 finishes within the top 5 teams over the 10 editions completed. Kolkata will hope for similar highs under the new leadership with continuous support from their Bollywood stars and management.
Delhi Daredevils, the franchise team from Delhi is owned by GMR Group and JSW Group. They have two home grounds in the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in Delhi and the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium in Chhattisgarh. One of the 8-founder franchise teams in the IPL, the Daredevils have made the playoffs thrice in 2008, 2009 and 2012. However, the team has often ended up as ‘wooden spooners’ with disappointing all-around performances during league stages. Gautam Gambhir is the new captain for the 2018 season returning to the side after 2010 where he left to join KKR, with Ricky Ponting joining the team as the head coach making a move from the Mumbai Indians. Delhi has overall won just 62 out of 142 matches played over the years for a 44% win percentage. Their away win record is poor with just a 36% win ratio and will look to put things right this year.
The Delhi Daredevils have a balanced team this year. Jason Roy the English opener will open the batting with Gautam Gambhir. Shreyas Iyer the 23-year-old diminutive right-hander from India will be the one-drop batsman and will be the cynosure of all eyes. Prithvi Shaw and Manjot Kalra who played in the under-19 world cup this year make the side at tender ages of 18 and 19. The middle order will consist of ‘the big show’ Glenn Maxwell, South African dasher Colin Munro and Chris Morris. Munro, in fact, is coming off a good season in the recently concluded PSL. Gurkeerat Singh has had international experience and can be used as a batting all-rounder bowling a bit of off-spin.
The squad also includes Daniel Christian and Vijay Shankar who was bought for USD 490,000 who will be pace bowling all-rounders in the side. Jayant Yadav who played in a few test matches for India alongside Ravi Ashwin against England in 2016 will play alongside Amit Mishra who is one of the most successful bowlers in the history of IPL. In Rishabh Pant and Naman Ojha, the Daredevils have two of the most destructive wicket-keeper batsman in India. 20-year-old Pant who has scored the 2nd fastest T20 century in the history of the game and who is tipped to take over national duties once MS Dhoni hangs his boots might be their first choice keeper as a result of his impressive power hitting.
Delhi’s pace bowling attack can easily send shivers down the spine of any batting outfit this year. Kagiso Rabada the world’s leading fast bowler will spearhead the attack with Mohammed Shami and Trent Boult for support. 17-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane becomes the 1st player from Nepal to get selected to IPL and will enjoy the opportunity to share the dressing room with some legends of the game. Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, and Sayan Ghosh are the other pace bowlers in the side with Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Tewatia expected to get some games to provide more spinning options to Gambhir.
Royal Challengers Bangalore is probably the strongest team on paper over the years and the most popular among fans, RCB have most often than not failed to live up to expectations often ending as the ‘brides mate’. They reached the finals thrice in 2009, 2011 and 2016 always ending up on the losing side. This year too they have a strong side and will look to go one step better by winning the elusive trophy.
RCB is captained by India skipper Virat Kohli and is owned by United Spirits Limited. Katrina Kaif the Bollywood sweetheart is their brand ambassador with the fans often called the ‘sea of red’ chanting ‘R-C-B, R-C-B’ expected to throng the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium whenever they play a match at home. Daniel Vettori is the head coach of the side with Gary Kirsten as the batting coach and Ashish Nehra who retired at the end of last year joining the team as the bowling coach.
As expected, Virat Kohli is their star batsman having scored 4418 runs in 149 IPL matches so far. He has the highest score of 113 with an overall average of 37.44 and a strike rate of 129.82. He has scored 4 centuries and 30 half-centuries and will be the cornerstone on which RCB’s fortunes will be built this year as well. AB de Villiers, the 360-degree player will occupy the number 4 spot in the batting order and the RCB will hope that he will be in the same form as he showed in 2016. Also on the team, this year is Brendon McCullum the retired Kiwi captain who did not have a good PSL prior to IPL. 20-year-old batting sensation Sarfaraz Khan will be given added responsibility this year and is expected to bat with Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali and Quinton de Kock to provide a big finish to the RCB innings. Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra is the other batsman in the side. Parthiv Patel at the age of 33 moves to RCB after spending the past couple of years with Mumbai Indians. He will need to fight hard for a place in the side with de Kock being in the mix.
Washinton Sundar at the age of 18 is the young Indian to keep an eye on this season. Sundar was used with the new ball during the Nidahas trophy tournament in Sri Lanka and we can expect more of the same from Kohli making use of the youngster’s control and confidence. The fast bowling department will be headed by Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, ‘the river’ Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mohammed Siraj. Yuzvendra Chahal will be their leading spinner with the leg-spinner expected to continue his international form to IPL cricket. Chahal has gone on to reach great heights in the international level since the last IPL. He is one of the leading wicket-takers across all short formats of the game in 2017/18. Another Indian player to watch out for is Murugan Ashwin, a right arm leg break googly bowler who could become the perfect foil for Sundar and Chahal.
Rajasthan Royals, the 8th team of IPL is often considered the dark horses of the tournament. They return to the IPL after a 2-year lapse as with Chennai Super Kings. The team from Jaipur is led by Aussie captain Steven Smith this year. The administration and support staff is light when compared to the other teams where they have Shane Warne as their mentor, Amol Muzumdar as their batting coach and Sairaj Bahutule as their bowling coach. The Sawai Mansingh Stadium with a seating capacity of 23000 is their home ground with the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad and the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai as secondary home grounds. Rajasthan led by Shane Warne became the winners of the inaugural IPL in 2008 overcoming much adversity and the current team will look to emulate the feat 10 years later.
The Rajasthan Royals often pick players who are lesser known or uncapped and get them to play alongside a few iconic players of the game. They have stuck with the same policy to an extent this time around as well but made their intention clear by signing the two most expensive players in the tournament in the form of Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat. Shane Watson is Rajasthan’s leading batsman, bowler, and six-hitter but will not play for the franchise this year. Ben Stokes for a second year in succession became the most expensive acquisition for a franchise pocketing a whopping USD 1.9 million in salary. His batting, bowling and superlative fielding will make him one of the most important players of the tournament. The Royals will hope that he has a better year than what he did during the 2017 season. Countryman Jos Buttler joins the Royals this year and should open the innings alongside India’s test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane a permanent fixture of the Royals is the steady influence that they look for to anchor the innings allowing the others to play around him. D’Arcy Short who had a successful BBL which saw him get picked for the Australian T20 side will represent the Royals in his first IPL season this year. Jofra Archer is another interesting pick with the player capable of contributing with both bat and ball.
Sanju Samson at the age of 23 has already been part of 5 IPL seasons. He will lead the young contingent of Indian batsman in the side. Prashant Chopra, Aryaman Birla, Ankit Sharma, Shreyas Gopal and Jatin Saxena are all good players from the Indian domestic circuit who will be looking to make a mark this year. Mahipal Lomror who was part of the under-19 Indian team joins the side as an all-rounder and his slow left-arm orthodox spinners will definitely add variety to the bowling attack.
Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni who have both donned the national cap for India will lead the bowling attack with 35-year-old Ben Laughlin providing the much-needed experience. Dushmantha Chameera the tear-away pace bowler from Sri Lanka is an interesting pick considering the Sri Lankan’s tendency to be on the expensive side. The lack of a frontline spinner in the side is a gaping hole that might come to haunt the Royals as the tournament goes on. Sudhesan Midhun, Krishnappa Gowtham and Zahir Khan Pakteen who are not even heard of are the spin options in the squad and it would be interesting to see how Shane Warne would mentor these players to become the primary spinner in the side.
The teams are all lined up and raring to go at what should be a great season of high-intensity T20 cricket. Sunrisers Hyderabad with all bases well covered and boasting of the defending orange and purple cap holders will start off favourites to win the trophy. Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore with some audacious acquisitions could pose a serious challenge to the Sunrisers. Tune in from the 7th of April onwards for a pulsating IPL season where we could see a new set of stars being born into the world.
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