IPL 2017 has begun and cricket fanatics all over the globe are uber-excited to see their favourite players vie for supremacy.
A close look at IPL history shows that Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knigth Riders have been the most consistent and fabulous teams of the tournament. All these teams have earned the IPL crown twice whereas Deccan Chargers, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have won the title once.
The most flamboyant and unlucky team has been Royal Challengers Bangalore which is filled with cricketing superstars like Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers among others. Despite having a strong team and reaching the finals thrice, they have been unable to win the IPL crown even once.
However, let’s also have a look at the dark horses of the tournament who can pose a severe challenge to the top teams and have enough firepower to cause major upsets.
One of the most talented and flamboyant teams in India’s biggest cricketing extravaganza is Delhi Daredevils. Despite being one of the strongest teams since IPL began, Delhi has been unable to win the ultimate crown even once.
They have one of the strongest squads and former Indian bowling great Zaheer Khan is the team’s captain. Further, Paddy Upton is the team’s coach and legendary former Indian batsman Rahul Dravid their mentor.
A strong batting line-up consisting of India’s recent triple-centurion Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris, Quinton de Kock, Carlos Brathwaite, Angelo Mathews and Sam Billings among others offer this team the firepower to destroy any opposition.
Further, its rich bowling resources include former Indian spearhead Zaheer Khan, South African and Australian speed guns Kagiso Rabada and Pat Cummins respectively, Mohammed Shami, Brathwaite, Mathews, Jayant Yadav and Amit Mishra.
The team also has a huge pool of all-rounders such as Brathwaite, Mathews, Anderson and Yadav.
Despite a strong set up, DD’s inconsistency has usually disappointed their fans. Their best performances came in 2008 and 2009 when they reached the semifinals of the tournament.
However, their fans must be praying that their team fires on all the cylinders in IPL’s season 2017 and win the coveted trophy.
The Gujarat Lions (GL) are a temporary franchise cricket team based in Rajkot, Gujarat. The team along with Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) will serve as replacement for Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals which have been suspended for two seasons because of alleged illegal betting.
GL did reasonably well in theire dubut IPL season and will endeavour to pose as strong challengers in 2017 too.
India’s ODI middle order mainstay Suresh Raina is the captain of the team and is ably supported in batting by talismanic Brendon Mcculum, Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, Englishman Jason Roy and West Indian star Dwayne Bravo among others.
The all-round skills of Bravo, Jadeja and James Faulkner can help the team spring major surprises in the tournament.
A well-settled bowling line up including the likes of James Faulkner, Dwayne Bravo, Munaf Patel, Ravindra Jadeja and Manpreet Gony makes the team really formidable.
Kings XI Punjab is filled with excellent match-winners and has one of the most balanced squads of the tournament.
Batting stalwarts like Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Eoin Morgan and Darren Sammy can take the game away from any opposition.
Their bowling also has enough firepower with Indian speed gun Varun Aaron, Matt Henry, Darren Sammy, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel among others.
Quality all round performances from Darren Sammy, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel have bailed the team out from the toughest of situations.
Despite having a well settled team, the players have failed to gel well as a unit. Individual brilliances have been the norm along with collective debacles.
The year 2008 was the best for the team as they reached the semifinals of IPL.
Their fans will be waiting with bated breath to see their favourite stars’ heroics and hoping that they would lay hands on the coveted IPL trophy this season.
Rising Pune Supergiant team is based in Pune Maharashtra and joined the IPL in 2016. Along with Gujarat Lions, the team is featuring as replacement for suspended teams like Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for two seasons.
Former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the captain of the squad in 2016 which performed poorly in that edition. The team was unable to surpass the group stage and the management took a bold decision of stripping Dhoni of captaincy for 2017 season.
Come 2017 and the team will be led by Australia's maverick captain Steve Smith.
A well balanced squad with explosive batting talent like Steve Smith, MS Dhoni, Faf du Plessis, Ajinkya Rahane, Usman Khawaja, all-rounder Ben Stokes, Manoj Tiwari and Lockie Ferguson can put shivers down the spine of any opposition.
The bowling is also in safe hands with Ben Stokes, Ashok Dinda, Ishwar Pandey, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir and Adam Zampa.
The management took two excellent decisions by acquiring the services of premium English all-rounder Ben Stokes for a whopping sum of 14.5 crores and bringing in Proteas’ leg spinner Imran Tahir in place of injured Indian ace offie R. Ashwin.
The IPL has begun and defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad won their first match against last year’s finalists Royal Challengers Bangalore. Let’s hope this season the lesser known teams can pose a formidable challenge to the heavyweights.