Get set to soak in the ultimate cricket thrill this March as the world gets ready for the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League. As the nation gears up to host this glamourous cricket event, we take a closer look at all the excitement and prospective battles that lie ahead. While the usual suspects are always at their best, we expect to see some new names shine and win us over with their raw skill and talents. Every IPL match is different and almost never was a predictable winner on the IPL schedule. In a sport where venues can make a big difference, the IPL schedule is twice as exciting to watch a team play at their home game and snatch a win from the giants of the tournament.
The 2019 edition of the tournament will see the classic IPL table of the original entrants of the league, Sunrisers Hyderabad being the latest addition to the list after their debut in 2013. So, delve into the strengths of the eight playing teams and their top players.
The Chepauk Stadium thunders with the roar of the fans and the atmosphere is absolutely electric at every Chennai Super Kings home game. Led by MS Dhoni, the team has benefited from his charisma and tact, thereby, winning hearts even at matches away from home. Coached by Kiwi legend Stephen Fleming, the team is the most successful team of the Indian Premier League. With three IPL championship titles, two Champions League T20 titles and four-time IPL runners-up, they are the team to beat this season. Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson are some of the biggest names in the game and the top performers of the team. A sense of dependability and will to win has propelled the Chennai Super Kings to the top of the IPL point table and across the final hurdle on multiple occasions.
Formally known as the Delhi Daredevils, this IPL team represents the nation’s capital and has been part of the Indian Premier League since the year of inception. Good fortune has almost never favoured the team and even with the likes of Virendra Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, they have managed to put up a rather mediocre show on the IPL points table in the past. The team initially started off with a bang as they reached the semi-finals consecutively in 2008 and 2009 but the last few years have been disappointing. To make up for the past performances, the 2019 Delhi Capitals squad includes a decent mix of batsmen and all-rounders. To name a few, Shikhar Dhawan’s presence in the team will be a boost to the batting order, while Ishant Sharma is a brilliant addition to the bowling department. Coached by Australian great Ricky Ponting and a new reimagined team branding, the team will look to shake off their negatives and return to their winning ways.
The Mumbai Indians are one of the most decorated teams of the Indian Premier League due to their massive fan following and an illustrious lineup of players. The past lineup included some of the game’s biggest names like Sachin Tendulkar, Shaun Pollock, and Sanath Jayasuriya. The team initially had a slow start but in the last few years, they have risen on the IPL standings to be one of the title contenders. Hard work paid off for the team and they earned themselves the IPL title on three occasions with win a Champions League T20 title win on two occasions. They are also the only team to defeat the Chennai Super Kings twice at the IPL finals. The 2019 squad of the Mumbai Indians includes star players being Kieron Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, and Yuvraj Singh. Kiwis Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan will strengthen the team’s bowling line up while Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard will take charge to put the big runs on the board.
The Kings XI Punjab team represents the mighty state of Punjab. The roaring lions on the team’s crest are a testimony to their undying spirit and warrior ways. The KXIP team is jointly owned by multiple businessmen and companies, but the most popular of them all is Bollywood actress Preity Zinta. Since the beginning, the Kings XI Punjab team have had a roller coaster ride in Indian Premier League. From starting off as semi-finalists in season one, they gradually dipped to the bottom of the table in the years to come. They resurged to the top in 2014 and even made an appearance in the Champions League T20 but only to fall back down to the bottom of the table in the years to follow. The 2019 squad is led by R. Ashwin, and the team’s batting order will be made stronger with the retaining of Chris Gayle and David Miller. On the bowling front, Australian Andrew Tye will be expected to lead the attack.
Owned by Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta, the KKR team carry the flag for the east. Representing the charming city of Kolkata, the Kolkata Knight Riders had a dull start in the tournament but eventually managed to reinvent themselves to win the championship in 2012 and 2014. The KKR squad has been home to some of the biggest names in cricket like Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly and Brendon McCullum. The 2019 Kolkata Knight Riders squad does not fall short of big names and they look set to take a shot at winning the title. Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, and Andre Russell are some of the key players who have been retained from last year. Key new additions to the team are batting specialist Carlos Brathwaite, Joe Denly, and bowler Shrikant Mundhe.
After winning the championship in the inaugural tournament back in 2008, the Rajasthan Royals squad have struggled to match up to the level of the other teams in the league. A third-place finish in 2013 has been the best they could achieve in the last few years but this is a team that is surely thirsty to regain the title. The 2019 squad sees a healthy mix of batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders. Jaydev Unadkat, Oshane Thomas, and Liam Livingstone are some of the key new players in the team. Ajinkya Rahane continues as the captain of the team and Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Aryaman Birla are among the few who have been retained. Coached by Paddy Upton, the team is set to take on another season of the IPL with hopes to finish strong.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have always been a big team with average results. Owned by United Spirits, the team has had some of Indian Cricket’s finest players like Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. The 2019 RCB team includes some big hitters and excellent bowlers. To name a few, Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli will be joined by IPL favourite AB de Villiers. A consistent partnership between the two and the supporting performance from the rest of the batting order will be highly essential for the team to put up some big numbers on the board. Shivam Dube, Heinrich Klaasen, Akshdeep Nath are among the new additions to the team. Key players retained from last year are Parthiv Patel, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Tim Southee and Colin de Grandhomme. The Royal Challengers Bangalore team is coached by Gary Kirsten. His former experience with coaching team India makes him an apt choice for the role. In 2019, the RCB squad will be looking to break the jinx of second-place finishes and cross the final hurdle to win the championship.
Making their debut in 2013, the Sunrisers Hyderabad are the newest team in terms of tenure in the IPL. Replacing the Deccan Chargers, the team quickly became one of the title-worthy underdogs of the IPL. Winning the IPL championship in 2016, they have maintained their feisty form in the last few years. Making little changes at the 2019 auction, the team bought just three new players and retained majority of the 2018 squad. Kiwi batsmen Kane Williamson is the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain for 2019 and he will be supported by Martin Guptill, Manish Pandey and David Warner. Yusuf Pathan is a consistent IPL player who is capable of doing maximum damage to the opponent’s team. His all-rounder abilities, in particular, will be essential to the team’s performance. Afghani star bowler Rashid Khan will lead the bowling attack for the SRH and will look to make every over count. Despite the lack of big names, the Sunrisers Hyderabad team have never failed to surprise. Hence, this will be one team to watch out for this season.
The quest to be the greatest is always up for grabs with the start of a new season. Looking at the past, the Chennai Super Kings have an almost perfect record that remains unbeaten to this day, and the Mumbai Indians are slowly trying to break these records. On the other hand, the 2019 season is also expected to bring up some new and exciting duels as the competition gets closer. So, expect to see sparks fly at matches such as CSK vs RCB, MI vs CSK, RR vs DC and KKR vs MI.
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