The final round before the Big Bash League gets underway and the Test summer... let's see who impressed in an intriguing Round 6 of…
10. Kolkata Knight Riders
Sorry KKR fans, but Shreyas Iyer’s injuries have meant that there are gaping holes in the team and the lack of form Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy (their retentions for the mega auction) have put them into trouble.
They will be overly reliant on Andre Russell (who is injury prone) and they wont fare much in the bowling department either (with Sunil Narine and injury prone Lockie Ferguson being the only exceptions).
Nitesh Rana seemingly has domestic captaincy experience along with being part of KKR leadership group (which now has a rather micromanaging but effective Chandrakant Pandit as their coach) so it remains to be see seen he does specially leading players of Andre Russell and Tim Southee’s calibre.
They also have gaping holes in wicketkeeping department as well, with Narayan Jagadeesan being the only Indian wicketkeeper in the team who has a poor T20 record (though a better List A one) so they will either have to be reliant on him or have Liton Das for their wicketkeeping duties at the expense of a very important Shakib al Hasan.
They will desperately need a smart pick for impact players tomake the most of the rule.
Probable Playing XI:-Narayan Jagdeesean(wk), Venktash Iyer, Nitesh Rana , Rinku Singh, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Mandeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav , Lockie Ferguson
Potential Impact player:- Mandeep Singh(batting)/Varun Chakravarthy (bowling)
9. Mumbai Indians
It is a both bit of a surprise and not that one of the most successful teams are being predicted to be no 9 (though still higher than how they ended up last year).
There are multiple reasons for this, Jasprit Bumrah’s injury and their inability to replace the players to fit their perfect formula from 2020/21 IPLs. While they have a promising top order including Suryakumar Yadav, their middle order and bowling (except for a recovering Jofra Archer) seem to be primary concerns and they will have to be extremely smart in how they rotate their foreign players.
A lot to gain for Cameron Green the T20I player too, who will be needed with the ball if Mumbai are to do any better than this predicted rank.
Their lack of established spinners might also come back to haunt them on pitches like Chennai or Hyderabad. Overall, they will need to hope their batting would be powerful enough to bat their opposition out of the match which would be difficult with their over reliant on Jofra Archer bowling attack.
Playing XI:- Rohit Sharma (captain), Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Tilak Varma, Tim David, Dewald Brevis, Jofra Archer, Piyush Chawla, Arshad Khan,Akash Madiwal
Potential Impact Player:- Akash Madiwa(pace)l for Hrithik Shokeen(spin bowling allrounder)
8. Punjab Kings
The struggle of the Punjab Kings is still somehow going to be apparent this season , something that we will see in the latter half of the season.
Riddled with the injury of a critical Jonny Bairstow and the questionable form of their skipper Shikhar Dhawan, a lot would be dependant on their all eggs in one basketisque player Sam Curran to deliver both with the ball and the bat.
However, there is also a chance where they could surprise because they do have a potent bowling attack. A lack of Indian batters are also a gaping hole, and my personal tactic would be to send Sam Curran as an opener to fulfil a pinch hitter role (though unlikely to happen) .
Playing XI:- Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Sam Curran, Bhanuka Rajapaska, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shahrukh Khan, Liam Livingstone, Rishi Dhawan,Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Harpreet Brar
Impact player:- Raj Bawa (allrounder) for Harpreet Brar(bowler)
7. Lucknow Super Giants
Lucknow Super Giant arguably had one of the best teams going into the auction in December 2022, with a bunch of quality all rounders which also ended up being achilles heel as they ended up experimenting too much which cost them in the playoffs.
Nonetheless, it is still very possible that they could end up in thee playoffs this year too but going on individual form of the players plus the home and away system, it is possible that they may struggle to make the playoffs and end up in mid-table.
One of their holes is the lack of quality death bowling and will need their all rounders to contribute better with the ball. Moshin Khan’s injury will definitely come to haunt them.
Playing XI:-KL Rahul (captain), Quinton de Kock (wk), Deepak Hooda, Nicholas Pooran, Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, Ayush Badoni, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan, Jaydev Unadkat , Mark Wood
Impact player:- Krishnappa Gowtham (bowler) for Nicholas Pooran.(batter)
6. Royal Challengers Bangalore
The enigma of Royal Challengers Bangalore might continue this year, in that on paper they remain one of the best teams but yet they struggle.
RCB have a few challenges this year- playing in Chinnaswamy has been a double edged sword due to their death bowling woes and they will also struggle in stadiums like the Wankadhe or Eden Gardens.
They will also have to compensate for Josh Hazlewood and Rajat Patidar, both arguably strong pillars to their journey to the playoffs last year. A lot will once again depend on Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli. Harshal Patel’s form will also be critical in determine they reach the playoffs or not.
Playing XI:- Faf du Plessis (captain), Virat Kohli, Anuj Rawat, Glenn Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Wangidu Hasranga, Shabaz Ahmed, Harshal Patel, Reece Topley, Mohammed Siraj, Siddhart Kaul/Karn Sharma
Impact Player:- Karn Sharma/Siddhart Kaul(bowler) for Anuj Rawat(batter)
5. Delhi Capitals
On one hand Delhi Capitals have lost Rishabh Pant but on the other hand they have gotten a motivated David Warner as captain.
This alongside with a strong top order and a formidable bowling attack makes them one of the top contenders to make the playoff.
The wicketkeeper conundrum maybe their achilles heel, specially if they have to play Phil Salt at the expense of Powell or a Riley Roussow and whether Manish Pandey/Sarafarz Khan can keep wickets effectively to them would be critcial in deciding this balance.
Nonetheless they are expected a top five finish this season (but are predicted to just about fail to make the playoffs)
Playing XI:- David Warner (captain), Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Manish Pandey, Sarfaraz Khan (wk),Rovman Powell, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma/Khaleel Ahmed, Chetan Sakariya Anrich Nortje
Impact Player:- Lalit Yadav (spinning allrounder) for Ishant/Khaleel.
4. Gujarat Titans
Last year’s defending champions are definitely being seen as more potent this year and they have strategically approached the auction in a very careful way.
Opposite to RCB’s Bangalore conundrum, Gujarat’s Narendra Modi Stadium is very big and therefore scores are likely going to be relatively in the 150s to 170s, which is exactly what they built their team this year for.
They essentially have somehow managed to extract the best talents of the more successful teams from 2015-2020 era and managed to make something great out of it. It remains to be seen if they can defend their team but making the playoffs would not be a long-shot.
Playing XI:- Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shubman Gill, Kane Williamson, David Miller, Hardik Pandya, Rahul Tewata Rashid Khan, Jayant Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Shivam Mavi.
Impact player:- Abhinav Manohar(batting allrounder) for Shivman Mavi (bowler)
3. Sunrisers Hyderabad
Historically one of the more consistent teams, they have struggled in the past 2 years and both of the times they let go of well established starts from their golden era- David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan.
However, while their auction strategy going into the 2021 auction was extremely poor, they have done a pretty good job in revamping their side with more batting heavy and will be hoping for their Indian International level bowlers to fire to maximise their returns.
With a solid Indian top order, they seem to have almost all bases covered (except for a proper Indian spinner backing up Washington) It is not a stretch to assume they will maximise their talent and be more motivated to get back into their habit of getting into playoffs.
Playing XI:- Abhishek Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram (captain), Harry Brook, Glen Philips (wk), Washington Sundar, Marco Jansen/Adil Rashid , Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik, T Natarajan
Impact Player:-Rahul Tripathi (Batsman) for Mayank Markarnde (spinner)
2.Chennai Super Kings
In what could be MS Dhoni’s final swan-song season, CSK would be in this season with a clear mission to give him a perfect adieu from professional cricket.
With the auction ending with them unexpectedly getting Ben Stokes, they have basically covered a lot of their bases covered and essentially have MS Dhoni the coach to play in the squad. They are predicted to reach the Top 2 and possibly even the title if even half of their players perform to their potential.
Playing XI:- Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikawd, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, MS Dhoni (c) (wk), Deepak Chahar, Maheesh Theekshana, Tushar Deshpande
Impact Player :- Ajiyanka Rahane (batsman) for Tushar Deshpande(bowler)
Possibly one of the strongest teams going around this season, Rajasthan Royals will certainly look to go one step further than last year and win their second title. If the batsman wins you games but bowlers win you tournaments holds true, then Rajasthan Royals will win the tournament this year and that is the basis why we predict to be pre-tournament favourites.
Though they may have a slight concern with local Indian batting, they have more than enough firepower to cover for it in all other departments.
Playing XI:- Yashaswi Jaiswal, Jos Butler, Sanju Samson (c)(wk), Devdutt Paddikal, Shimron Heytmer, Jason Holder, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal,Trent Boult, Kuldeep Sen, Navdeep Saini
Impact player:- Riyan Parag for Navdeep Saini
P.S If one of Rajasthan, Chennai or Hyderabad win IPL 2023- this list would have been validated!