Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Idiot's Guide To The IPL - Part Two

So you've spent the past 24 hours absorbing the format. So now you've bluffed your way through that chat with the friendly IPL fan, what to say when he asks about the teams? Who are your men to watch, who are the teams who will be involved at the business end of the tournament (sometime in 2015)? Fret no longer, as The Idiot's Guide to the IPL Part Two is here!

So who are the favourites this year? Well, the bookies make Sachin Tendulkar's (you may have heard of him) Mumbai Indians the shortest price, followed by Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. After that, it's the also-rans and the rest.

While Mumbai had a great year last year, and Chennai even won it, technically the previous editions shouldn't have any bearing. A new auction was set up, with the talent being supposedly evenly spread around the various franchises (although the teams were allowed to retain the services of four top players from previous years). And while some teams have hoarded the big name overseas players, the rules say that only 4 non-Indians can play at any one time. So let's have a look at the various teams that will contest IPL4.

In today's Idiot's Guide I'll have a look at the five teams in Group A, while tomorrow will be Group B.

Group A

Mumbai Indians - Captained by Sachin, and keeping hold of some big name players, Mumbai are favourites this year. With Kieron Pollard, Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds they'll hit big, and in Lasith Malinga they have a deadly player with the ball. Downside is that there are nine overseas players - who may not be too pleased if they're on the bench every game. Squad perhaps a bit top heavy, with some huge names followed by some not very big ones, but the MI will hope the lesser known guys can step up to complement the big performances of the stars.

Delhi Daredevils - Choosing only to retain Virender Sehwag, who captains the side, the Daredevils selected a almost completely new squad from before. Only Sehwag and South Africa's Morne Morkel were at the World Cup, which could play into their hands compared to the fatigue of other teams. The DD have "taken punts" on a few players, with lesser known overseas Aussies Travis Birt, Matthew Wade and Aaron Finch all getting selected - but they've all excelled in the Big Bash so could really pay off. Big hitting David Warner will return at the top of the order as well. The Daredevils have gone for inexperienced players who could pay off spectacularly, but then again, the lack of star players may count against them as they could slump in form. Will be interesting to see how they go.

Deccan Chargers - After winning IPL2 (the South African one) under the stewardship of Adam Gilchrist, the Chargers released all of their players and started again. Now with a new wicket-keeper/captain in Kumar Sangakkara, the Chargers have a completely new squad, filled with some big names. While they will probably miss Kevin Pietersen for the tournament due to injury, Dale Steyn, Sangakkara, JP Duminy and Cameron White are all big names and proven T20 players, as well as having local internationals such as Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha and MS Gony on the books. Could be dark horses as have strength in both batting and bowling.

Kings XI Punjab - Deccan's loss is Punjab's gain, as Adam Gilchrist comes in to captain the Kings XI, who have been the whipping boys of previous IPL's. However, in Gilchrist, David Hussey and Dinesh Karthik, Punjab have players who have been there and done it in T20s, as well as handy players in Piyush Chawla, Ryan McLaren and Shaun Marsh. Not much is expected of the Kings XI, but they will hope to improve on the previous disappointments.

Pune Warriors India - Not a great deal is known about the new boys Pune, but they're captained by World Cup Man of the Moment Yuvraj, as well as boasting the likes of Jesse Ryder, Angelo Mathews, Graeme Smith and world's greatest T20 bowler ever Alfonso Thomas. Not much is known about the Warriors, and as such, could spring a few surprises.

So there's the teams of Group A. Check back tomorrow for some Idiot's Guides to the teams of Group B.

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