Royal Challengers Banglore: IPL 2020 Preview
Virat Kohli is still on the quest of a maiden IPL Trophy. Will he win it this time around? Let's see! "Yeah, very happy. To be fair, pretty much went according to plan." Mike Hesson, RCB's Director of Cricket Operations, made this statement after the auctions, conducted on the 19th of December in Kolkata, had concluded. Heading into the auction, the RCB management had as much as 27.1 crores in their pocket. With new structural changes made- Hesson as the Director Cricket Operations and Simon Katich as the Head Coach- and as many as 12 players released - including midseason replacement Dale Steyn - RCB was left with 13 players. They had a mighty task ahead of themselves. The RCB team has always looked good on paper but has never managed to replicate its quality in the form of an IPL trophy. Twelve seasons have gone by, and RCB has managed to make it to the finals only on three occasions: 2009, 2011, and 2016. However, they have never managed to lift the coveted trophy. Despite the excellent look of the team on paper, RCB has always had its loopholes: death bowling and lack of batting depth. The management has looked to address both these issues this time around.
As far as the death bowling is concerned, RCB already has one death bowling option in Delhi sensation Navdeep Saini. In the previous IPL, he managed 11 scalps at an impressive economy of around 8 in the death overs at a ground like Chinnaswamy, also known as the graveyard for bowlers. With Umesh bowling three overs upfront in the powerplay and Navdeep Saini saved for the backend of the innings, RCB needed a foreign bowler who could provide two overs in the powerplay and two in the death. RCB has bought not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 different options to fill up that gap: Chris Morris for ten crores, Kane Richardson for four crores, Dale Steyn for two crores, and Isuru Udana for 50 lakhs. RCB will likely start with Morris in the playing xi, and if needed, they may drop Moeen Ali or Aaron Finch and bring in another bowling option. With the IPL to be played in UAE, Udana may come into the picture. These pitches are very slow, and the ball tends to hold onto the surface. Udana's cutters and other subtle variations will reign supreme on such pitches.
The other glaring issue was the lack of batting depth. RCB has bolstered its batting unit with the addition of Aaron Finch, the Australian limited-overs captain. Not only does he provide a destructive batting option at the top, but he also provides for captaincy support to Virat Kohli. If they choose not to play him, then they have a fascinating talent in Devdutt Padikkal. In the recently concluded Mushtaq Ali trophy he emerged as the highest run-scorer with 580 runs from 12 games at an astonishing average of 64.4 and strike rate of 175. RCB can play both if Ab De Villiers keeps wickets, but that is an unlikely scenario. RCB needed a reliable batting option above Virat Kohli and another one below Ab De Villiers. With Finch likely to open and Moeen likely to take up the number 5 spot, the batting looks more or less sorted. It's just a matter of performing in the crunch situations, and if they manage to do so, they might finish in the top 4.
EDIT: My starting XI - Parthiv Patel(wk), Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli(c), Ab De Villiers, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal
Other serious contenders for the starting XI- Devdutt Padikkal, Dale Steyn
My prediction- Although RCB has failed to qualify despite boasting a phenomenal team, I feel they have the squad and management to go all the way. I see them finishing 4th
on the points table.
Chennai Super Kings: IPL 2020 Preview
The dad's army
is what they call them: the Chennai Super Kings. The three-times champions, eight-times finalist, and ten-times semi-finalist did not have much to do this time around in the 2020 IPL auction. After the heartbreaking loss in the 2019 IPL finals, by one run, the Chennai franchise has released - Sam Billings, David Willey, Mohit Sharma, Dhruv Shorey and Chaitanya Bishnoi - 5 players in total. No structural changes took place with Fleming still as the head coach and MSD as the captain. Even before the auction, the CSK army looks ready to seek to avenge for last time's finals defeat.
Many thought they would go for young Indian talent but, once again the CSK management sprung in a surprise. They bought veteran Piyush Chawla at a whopping 6.4 crores: the most expensive Indian buy in the auction. Most might not understand this intention, but with the mega auction coming up next time around, they probably preferred experience to youth for this year's IPL. They also have the services of Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, an accurate left spinner from Tamil Nadu. However with Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santer, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, and now Piyush Chawla- 5 potent spinners - already in the side it doesn't make much sense to draft another spinner. Well, that's CSK for you.
However, their best buy was that of Josh Hazlewood at base price. They needed an overseas bowler who could bowl a minimum of 3 overs upfront, and with the recent test match form Hazlewood has manifested, it seems a logical buy. He may serve as a backup to Lungi Ngidi, another South African pacer who has been under a cloud of injuries in the past two years. Their final buy was Sam Curran at a whopping 5.5 crores. He may not be a part of the starting XI, but will most likely serve as a backup to Dwayne Bravo. Bravo struggled in the death overs last time around, and with his fitness issues, CSK needed to keep ready a backup. Sam Curran can also open the innings if either Faf or Watson gets injured throughout the tournament.
However, for the past two years, CSK's biggest issue has been their death bowling. The rise of Deepak Chahar in the international circuit will benefit them a lot. If Bravo can replicate what he has been doing year after year then, Chennai will have no gaps to fill heading in the 2020 IPL. Overall, the unit is a very balanced one and is a strong contender to lift the coveted trophy this time around. My starting XI - Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(wk)(c), Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir. My prediction - The CSK unit looks a very settled one, and I feel they will continue their dominance in the IPL and finish either 1st or 2nd
on the points table.
Mumbai Indians: IPL 2020 Preview "He's done it! He has done it! Lasith Malinga, the hero! Mumbai Indians have done it again! Four-time champions of the Vivo IPL! Four victories over CSK this season!"
This is what Ian Bishop had to say on-air as the defending champions clinched their fourth title in the most dramatic way possible. Vivo IPL 2019 witnessed a scintillating season for the Mumbai Indians. With even better changes made to the squad for the 2020 IPL season, we can all expect the Mumbai Paltan to defend its title.
Heading into the 2020 IPL auction, the Mumbai Indians weren't expected to make any changes. However, they released a total of nine players: Evin Lewis, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, Beuran Hendricks, Ben Cutting, Yuvraj Singh, Barinder Sran, Rasikh Salam, Pankaj Jaswal, and Alzarri Joseph. The MI Paltan needed a couple of genuine foreign pace bowlers and some reliable reserve players. To me, the most significant buy was that of Trent Boult. The Wankhede Stadium possesses red soil which enables the fast bowlers to get some movement off the pitch, allowing the ball to swing in the first 4-5 overs. Boult's ability to move the ball early and provide early inroads may be the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle the Indians were looking for. The trio of Boult, Malinga, and Bumrah will likely lead the pace bowling attack in both the powerplay and at the death. It is plausible that Boult bowls 3 overs upfront, Malinga with a couple of overs, and Bumrah only one over. Through the middle overs, Bumrah will likely take the responsibility of providing a breakthrough. At the death, both Malinga and Bumrah will share the burden with two overs each. They have potent backups in Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan Coulter-Nile (bought at a whopping 8 crores), and Dhawal Kulkarni. Most might question the presence of four foreign pace bowlers. However, with such a strong Indian core, comprising of batsmen and all-rounders, the management is bound to stock up on its pace bowling department.
The other substantial buy was that of Chris Lynn at base price. Although likely, Quinton De Kock will be preferred over Lynn, Lynn may have a significant role in this year's IPL. The option of playing Lynn at the expense of Malinga or Boult may be done to add more firepower at the top of the order. In such a case either Dhawal Kulkarni or an Indian spinner like Anukul Roy or Jayant Yadav can be brought into the mix. The MI paltan further bolstered its squad with a backup to the aging Kieron Pollard in the form of hard-hitting Sherfane Rutherford. His recent stint with the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Hero Caribbean Premier League was a memorable one. He batted at number 6 and struck the ball at an astonishing strike rate of 140.47.
Once again the Indian core - comprising of Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, and Jasprit Bumrah - remains instrumental to the success of this team. However, what every MI fan would be hoping for is a breakout season for the most successful captain in the history of the IPL. He is yet to have a season similar to what Virat Kohli had in 2016, and what David Warner literally has every year!!
With two back to back World T20 cups in 2020 and 2021, Rohit will likely open the batting to get good batting practice before the big event.
My Starting XI - Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton De Kock(wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah.
Other serious contenders for the starting XI - Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni
My prediction - Overall, this MI unit looks the most robust group in the entire competition, and I will not be surprised if they finish in the top 3
in the points table. Please feel free to post your opinions in the comments section. Do share with others! Thanks!
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