Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Idiot's Guide To The IPL - Part Three

Yesterday was the teams of Group A. Now it's Group B's turn.

Group B

Kolkata Knight Riders - Led by Sourav Ganguly for the first three years, the KKR disappointed massively, being the only team to never make the semi-finals. However, Ganguly wasn't retained for this year (or even picked up by any other team), and they'll now be led by Gautam Gambhir. The KKR have some excellent all-rounders in Shakib Al-Hasan, Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate, as well as Eoin Morgan (and Gambhir himself) which will lead to a very strong batting line-up. The bowling will be led by experienced Brett Lee, and he'll work alongside young buck James Pattinson (brother of England legend Darren). Could have a chance if it all comes together, but will need the lesser known Indian players to really step up.

Kochi Tuskers Kerala - The other new franchise this year, Kochi have spent big to try and get off to a good start. They'll be captained by Mahela Jayawardene, and will trust in big guns Brendon McCullum, VVS Laxman and Muttiah Muralitheran. While they have recruited plenty of overseas names, not many of them are the big international stars seen in the other teams, but the KTK will hope they can elevate Kochi in a season where expectations appear fairly high.

Royal Challengers Bangalore - Like Kochi, the RCB have a smattering of big names but will have to rely on some lesser known Indians to lead them to success. Captained this year by Virat Kohli, they do have the big names of Dan Vettori, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Zaheer Khan alongside T20 specialists Dirk Nannes and Charl Langevelt, and could be in with a chance if they get off to a good start.

Rajasthan Royals - Shane Warne's inaugral winners of IPL1 have had their ups and downs ever since (poor seasons ultimately followed by expulsion, then reversal of that decision), and as always, the Royals are the underdogs who can thrive on their status. With Rahul Dravid, Shane Watson and Ross Taylor in the side the batting will be strong, and the Royals will have canny Johan Botha and Paul Collingwood in there as well. Warne aside, the trump card can be Shaun Tait. If he stays match fit he can be devastating. The Royals have had a habit of unearthing superb unknown Indians, and they will hope that this year is no different. They may have to rely on the local talent if they are to achieve anything this year.

Chennai Super Kings - The reigning champions are very strong, and are some people's favourites to take home the IPL crown again. Led by World Cup winning skipper MS Dhoni, there is strength throughout, with Suresh Raina and Mike Hussey as batsmen, all-rounders in Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, Scott Styris and Faf du Plessis, and strong bowling in Doug Bollinger, Tim Southee, Nuwan Kulasekara and Ravichandran Ashwin. Could go a long way in the competition.

So there's the teams of Group B, following yesterday's appraisal of Group A. If you want my honest thoughts - Chennai and Mumbai are favourites, but a team like Pune or Kolkata could come from nowhere to shock a few. Check back tomorrow for some another Idiot's Guide to the IPL.

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