1) Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan created history by winning in the 1st season, after defeating Chennai in a thrilling final. However, the second time around, Shane Warne’s magic didn’t work as the Royals finished at a lowly 6th spot.
This time, they are determined enough for another IPL trophy with the addition of Australian players such as Damien Martyn and Adam Voges, who were bought for a base price of $100000. The team strategy would be easier for Shane Warne to follow since communication would become easier. Not many changes in the Royals squad is also good because the players are used to playing with each other.
Warne’s all-round role as a determined captain and a champion leg-spin bowler would be crucial for the team’s success. Along with Graeme Smith, who is by far the trump player of the team. Youngsters such as Ravindra Jadeja, Munaf Patel, Naman Ojha, Amit Singh and Swapnil Asnodkar make Royals a team to contend with.
However, the Royals need to deal with the fact that only England’s Dimitri Mascerenhas is a match-winning all-rounder. They will miss Shane Watson dearly like the last season. However, they are a decent fielding side, so this should help do really well.
2) Kings XI Punjab
Punjab reached the semi-finals of the 1st season unexpectedly. And last year, they finished 5th, missing out the semi-finals yet again by a narrow margin. Despite good performances, it is quite mind-boggling that Yuvraj Singh was replaced by Kumar Sangakkara as skipper.
They are a good unit with the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Yuvraj Singh as a player, Shaun Marsh, Ramesh Powar as well as youngsters such as Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Abdulla, Piyush Chawla, Sunny Sohal and the impressive left-handed batsman Karan Goel. The presence of Indian youth makes them a crowd favourite.
Who knows Sangakkara’s captaincy could be worth the risk just as he is inspirational for Sri Lanka. Tom Moody as coach would ensure that there is a good working relationship between Moody and Sangakkara. However, this move shouldn’t backfire like Kolkata’s where Brendon McCullum was made captain in the place of Sourav Ganguly. This will ensure Punjab an outright chance for victory.
3) Chennai Super Kings
Chennai are a side that has been the most consistent in the first two seasons. Could it get any better when it is known that they were the finalists in the first season and 4th in the 2nd season, losing to eventual runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore in the semi-final in Durban in South Africa.
It can get better and more exciting cricket is expected from Chennai. With Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain and wicketkeeper, Chennai has got the right balance. Their team is flexible enough to perform with newly acquired all-rounders such as South Africa’s Justin Kemp and Sri Lanka’s latest sensation Thissira Perera.
Who can count out Jacob Oram and Albie Morkel? Despite Andrew Flintoff’s and Michael Hussey’s absence, Chennai has the star power to perform consistently. The likes of Matthew Hayden who was the top-scorer of the IPL last season, Suresh Raina who played the perfect second fiddle to Hayden with the bat at the No.3 position and sometimes won matches due to his exceptional fielding, S Badrinath who is undoubtedly the next big thing of Indian cricket alongside Parthiv Patel who has won Dhoni’s faith thanks to his contributions at the top of the order as well as improved wicketkeeping, allowing Dhoni to focus on his captaincy.
The bowling too is strong and is led by Muttiah Muralitharan. Laxmipathy Balaji is an experienced bowler. Makhaya Ntini adds to the firepower of the bowling attack. Not to forget that Chennai has a number of bowling all-rounders which gives Dhoni various options in forming his bowling strategy.
Youngsters such as Srikkanth Aniruddha, Manpreet Gony, Joginder Sharma, Sudeep Tyagi and Shadab Jakati only enlighten Chennai’s position to win the IPL this time. Undoubtedly, Chennai is an overwhelming favourite to not just win the IPL, but also qualify for the Champions League 2010, which they missed out narrowly last season thanks to controversies created by the IPL.
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