Indian Premier League Team-by-Team Guide: Could champs be chumps?

Rohit Sharma
Rohit leads the defending champs
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Ed Hawkins has the squad lists, probable XIs, key stats and trends ahead of the the eagerly-anticipated tournament in the UAE...

"Our perennial concerns about Mumbai could be more significant than ever: are they a batter short and where is the spin quality?"

Mumbai Indians [5.80]

Captain Rohit Sharma
Coach Mahela Jayawardene
Last season Winners
Title wins 4
Top four 8
Last two years win percentage 57
Last two years win % batting 1st 52
Last two years win % batting 2nd 60
Game changer Kieron Pollard
Game clogger Trent Boult
Prospects in four words Could be tough season
In-play strategy Vulnerable defending
Retained Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, James Pattinson, Mitchell McCleneghan, Quinton de Kock, Rahul Chahar, Rohit Sharma, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult (T)
New signings Mohsin Khan, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary
Possible XI Rohit (capt), de Kock (wk), Suryakumar, Kishan (wk), Hardik, Krunal, Pollard, Chahar, Coulter-Nile, Bumrah
Verdict The favourites and the holders have all the experience required to win another title. But do they have the right players? Mumbai could well be one of the teams hamstrung by the switch to UAE. This is a squad designed to get them home wins at the Wankhede. So our perennial concerns about Mumbai could be more significant than ever: are they a batter short and where is the spin quality? Prince Balwant Rai Singh could have the sort of breakthrough season which renders the latter irrelevant. The former might be solved by giving Windies all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford a go given they are overstocked with pacers, notably the overrated Trent Boult.

Chennai Super Kings [6.20]

Captain MS Dhoni
Coach Stephen Fleming
Last season Runners-up
Title wins 3
Top four 10
Last two years win % 64.2
Last two years win % batting 1st 50
Last two years win % batting second 65
Game changer Lungi Ngidi
Game clogger Murali Vijay
Prospects in four words Struggling for best balance
In-play strategy Could be expensive at death
2019 squad Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Im-ran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Kedar Jadhav, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Monu Singh, MS Dhoni, M Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shane Watson, Shar-dul Thakur,
New signings Sam Curran, Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore
Possible XI Watson, du Plessis, Vijay, Rayudu, Dhoni (capt & wk), Jadhav, Jadeja, Bravo, Chahar, Chawla, Tahir
Verdict Chennai build their squads to make use of a turning surface at the MA Chidambarram. So they are well-suited for the switch to UAE with quality spin options. But could it be a weakness? They are short on quality pace and they would dearly love to get the excellent Lungi Ngidi in the XI. But that seems impossible without sacrificing overseas players who are absolute locks - Faf Du Plessis, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Imran Tahir. Losing Du Plessis, who some might argue is vulnerable, seems unlikely because their batting has been weakened by the loss of Suresh Raina. It's a bit of jigsaw.

Delhi Capitals [7.0]

Captain Shreyas Iyer
Coach Ricky Ponting
Last season 3rd
Title wins 0
Top four 4
Last 2 years win % 51.7
Last 2 years win % batting 1st 42.8 (14)
Last two years win % batting second 53.8 (13)
Game changer Marcus Stoinis as opener
Game clogger Marcus Stoinis as finisher
Prospects in four words Expected to go deep
In-play strategy Lay if Stoinis has to finish the job
Retained Ajinkya Rahane (T), Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Keemo Paul, Prithvi Shaw, R Ashwin (T), Rishabh Pant, Sandeep Lamichhane, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer
New Signings Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Mohit Sharma, Shimron Hetmyer, Tushar Deshpande, Lalit Yadav, Daniel Sams
Possible XI Dhawan, Stoinis, Shaw, Iyer, Pant (wk), Hetmyer, Paul, Axar, Ashwin (capt), Ishant, Rabada
Verdict The Capitals look strong and if they make the correct calls about their line-up they should qualify for the play-offs for the second consecutive season. The big one to get right is where to bat Marcus Stoinis. Surely Ricky Ponting knows he has to open? But if they bat him in a finisher role he could lose them games. Maybe the best solution is not to pick him and plump for left-armer Daniel Sams. The other selection dilemma is whether to pick West Indies all-rounder Keemo Paul or Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichhane. Given their extraordinary batting power - they have hoarded the best young Indian talent - the smart move may be to go with Lamichhane to give them the control they need in the field.

Sunrisers Hyderabad [7.60]

Captain David Warner
Coach Trevor Bayliss
Last season 4th
Title wins 1
Top four 5
Last 2 years win percentage 45.2
Last two years win % batting 1st 35.7 (14 games)
Last two years win % batting second 73.3 (15)
Game changer David Warner
Game clogger Kane Williamsom
Prospects in four words Conditions suit them perfectly
In-play strategy Back them batting second
Retained Abhishek Sharma, Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Vijay Shankar, Wriddhiman Saha
New signings Mitchell Marsh, Fabian Allen, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Sanjay Yadav, Abdul Samad, Sandeep Bawanaka
Possible XI Warner, Bairstow (wk), Garg, Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Nabi, Rashid, Bhuvneshwar, Kaul, Khaleel
Verdict There is, as ever, a lot to like about Sunrisers. A bowler-friendly tournament on wearing pitches suits their considered batting approach and a fearsome bowling unit. Best of all, David Warner and Trevor Bayliss as captain and coach respectively should be inspirational. This lot should be the best-led in the tournament. There are issues though. Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi could miss the play-offs while Bhuv Kumar needs to rediscover form and fitness.

Royal Challengers Bangalore [7.60]

Captain Virat Kohli
Coach Simon Katich
Last season 6th
Title wins 0
Top four 5
Last two years win % 39.2
Last two years win % batting 1st 35.7
Last two years win % batting second 46.1
Game changer AB De Villiers
Game clogger Moeen Ali
Prospects in four words Can bat, can't bowl
In-play strategy Take them on defending big totals
Retained AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Gurkeerat Singh, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Parthiv Patel, Pawan Negi, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Virat Kohli, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal
New signings Josh Philippe, Shahbaz Ahamad, Kane Richardson, Isuru Udana, Pavan Deshpande, Chris Morris, Dale Steyn, Aaron Finch, Kane Richardson
Possible XI Finch, Parthiv (wk), Kohli (capt), de Villiers, Moeen, Dube, Morris, Chahal, Umesh/Sundar, Saini, Siraj
Verdict Should we just cut and paste last year's verdict in here? It's the same old problems and RCB show no interest in solving them. Once again they have spent all the dosh on batters with the bowling unit forgotten. Indeed, they are so poorly balanced that they could be relying on Moeen Ali as a sixth bowler. And Moeen has been pricier than Harrods of late. The batting order is of most interest. Could Virat Kohli open instead of Aaron Finch, who might be best deployed in the middle-order against spin? Or maybe even AB De Villiers?

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Kolkata Knight Riders [7.80]

Captain Dinesh Karthik
Coach Bredon McCullum
Last season 5th
Title wins 2
Top four 6
Last two years win percentage 50
Last two years win % batting 1st 35.7
Last two years win % batting second 71
Game changer Andre Russell
Game clogger Brendon McCullum
Prospects in four words Could be surprise Bismarcks
In-play strategy Value to chase anything
Retained Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine
New signings Varun Chakravarthy, M Sidharth, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tripathi, Pat Cummins, Nikhil Naik, Pravin Tambe, Chris Green, Tom Banton
Possible XI Tripathi, Narine, Gill, Karthik (capt & wk), Morgan, Russell, Rana, Cummins, Varun, Kuldeep, Warrier/Prasidh
Verdict Could punters' love affair with the Knight Riders be starting to go sour? They failed to make the play-offs last season and there are concerns they are becoming a slightly superior version of RCB. They are packed with batting power with Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell ready to blitz attacks but they have been worryingly expensive in the field. Last season they lost seven out of nine when batting first. New captures Pat Cummins and Chris Green, who might struggle to get a game, have their work cut out rectifying that. And we severely doubt that attack-obsessed Brendon McCullum has nous as coach.

Kings XI Punjab [10.5]

Captain KL Rahul
Coach Anil Kumble
Last season 6th
Titles 0
Top four 2
Last two years win % 43
Last two years win % batting 1st 42.8
Last two years win % batting second 40
Game changer Glenn Maxwell
Game clogger Chris Gayle
Prospects in four words Will miss out again
In-play strategy Could really struggle to defend totals
Retained Arshdeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Darshan Nalkande, K Gowtham (T), Hardus Viljoen, Harpreet Brar, J Suchith, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, M Ashwin, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan
New signings Tajinder Dhillon, Prabhsimran Singh, Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Sheldon Cottrell, Deepak Hooda, Ishan Porel
Possible XI Rahul (capt & wk), Agarwal, Mandeep/Nair, Pooran, Maxwell, Sarfaraz, Gowtham, Mujeeb, Shami, Jordan, Porel
Verdict Kings have started strongly in each of the past two seasons and looked certainties for the play-offs only to implode. Last season they won one of their last five to miss out on net run rate. The previous year they won one of their last eight. Are they better equipped this time? A new skipper in KL Rahul is a good start while there is power at the top-, middle- and lower-order with the bat. Chris Jordan is a good death bowler. Alas they're a squad built for winning matches in Mohali, not the UAE and they are desperately short on spin quality. They might not even have the chance to implode this time. Chris Gayle is hanging on in there, unable to run singles and looking way past his best.


Rajasthan Royals [13.0]

Captain Ajinkya Rahane
Coach Paddy Upton
Last season 7th
Title wins 1
Top four 4
Last 2 years win % 41
2018 Win % batting 1st 25
2018 Win % batting second 57
Game changer Shreyas Gopal
Game clogger Jaydev Unadkat
Prospects in four words Balance is not right
In-play strategy Couldn't defend Fort Knox
Retained Ankit Rajpoot, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Mayank Markande, Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag, Sanju Samson, Shashank Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Steven Smith, Varun Aaron
New signings Kartik Tyagi, Anuj Rawat, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Akash Singh, David Miller, Robin Uthappa, Jaydev Unadkat, Aniruddha Joshi, Andrew Tye, Tom Curran, Oshane Thomas
Possible XI Buttler (wk), Uthappa, Samson (wk), Smith, Stokes, Parag, Jaiswal/Tewatia, Rajpoot, Markande, Shreyas, Archer, Unadkat
Verdict Rajasthan have an awful record in defending totals in the last two years, particularly last year when they could be relied on to go round the park. So what have they done to strengthen their bowling attack? They have signed three pretty much identikit fast bowlers in Tye, Curran and Thomas. Bonkers really when you consider that they already have a gun in Jofra Archer and, when available, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Steve Smith are locks. Leftie Jaydev Unadkat, a disaster last season, may have to play for variation. Leggie Shreyas Gopal was superb last term. If he repeats that form and Mayank Markande can rediscover his, it gives them eight overs of control. Buttler aside, their batting fails to stir the loins.

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