The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to begin on March 29 and runs till May 24 when the finals are scheduled to take place at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
IPL 2020 Tournament Preview
The opening match of the season will see IPL 2019 finalists, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians tussle it out in Mumbai’s home ground. The season will have 60 matches with 56 league games and four play-off matches which includes the qualifier, eliminator one, eliminator two and the finals. Like with the last two seasons, this year’s competition will also have eight teams with each team playing one home and one away game against each of the other teams.
Team Previews IPL 2020
Chennai Super Kings (CSK)
The three-time title winners and IPL 2019 finalists will have the arduous task of proving that their core team, consisting of a lot of players who have retired from international cricket, can still produce performances like in their prime. The franchise made some solid additions in the IPL 2020 Auction in December, beefing up their spin and pace bowling stocks ahead of the tournament. They will hope that their skipper, MS Dhoni, can lead them to another title win. Chennai have never missed out on qualifying for the play-off stages in their IPL history and will hope to maintain the clean chit this time around.
Delhi Capitals (DC)
The young brigade that Delhi Capitals have built in their franchise is starting to reap rewards. After seven straight seasons of missing out on the play-offs, Delhi made it to the final four last season led by their young group of players. Leading them from the front is Shreyas Iyer and he is joined by dynamic players like Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant in the batting front. There is more diversity in the bowling attack and this time, they have added Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin to lend some experience to their young squad. Their primary challenge this season will be to identify their best playing XI and consistently produce wins at home.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
Led from behind by Anil Kumble’s brains, Kings XI Punjab made a splash at the auction with some excellent picks. They have a strong squad and will be led by KL Rahul this year. Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan and Nicholas Pooran are joined by the returning Glenn Maxwell as Punjab pack a punch with their batting. They have reasonably good firepower in their bowling attack too and will be hoping to better themselves this season and find a way to the play-offs. Unlike in the previous seasons, they will have a good blend of T20 talent, both young and experienced, and will hope to maximise the skills of their resources.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
A lot of criticism levied against the mercurial Kolkata Knight Riders was that they were too dependent on too few. Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Dinesh Karthik formed the core team and much of their success in the last two seasons hinged on their performances. This year, they have iron out that flaw by roping in an experienced skipper in Eoin Morgan, an in-form pacer in Pat Cummins, an exciting opener in Tom Banton and a skilful spinner in Varun Chakravarthy. This varying dynamic in the team is in itself Kolkata’s biggest strength this season. They have the right balance in their squad and some select few match-winners to run away with the title.
Mumbai Indians (MI)
Unlike CSK, Mumbai Indians retain a younger core team suited for the shortest format of the game. Their recent success in the IPL stems from their big-match players who are capable of reversing game situations and putting their team in pole position. Led by the charismatic Rohit Sharma and boasting of players like Kieron Pollard, Quinton de Kock, Hardik Pandya, Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga, Mumbai are the team to beat this IPL season. The four-time champions are well versed in acing the league phase and bullying their opponents in the play-offs and will hope for another title win to add to their trophy cabinet.
Rajasthan Royals (RR)
Having let go of a select few players who were pulling them back, Rajasthan Royals sport a new-look outfit with a few old names. Their overseas talent remains one of the best in the league while their concerns and strengths wear a familiar look. Rajasthan have underperformed over the course of the IPL after winning the inaugural season and will look to IPL 2020 to overturning a rather ordinary record in the league. Almost always under the radar, the Royals have the squad to pull off another heist like in 2008, but much of that could depend on the form of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Steven Smith.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Perennial underachievers despite having a batting line-up franchises can only dream of, Royal Challengers Bangalore have zero titles in their bag and a lot of episodes of finishing in the bottom half of the table. In four of the 12 seasons so far, RCB have finished last or second last in the league phase of the tournament. Led by Virat Kohli, and ably assisted by AB de Villiers, RCB have a strong line-up yet again this time. They have strengthened their bowling front, a problematic area over the years, but somehow with them it’s difficult to predict what kind of season they might have.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)
The team with the most scary opening duo in the league, Sunrisers Hyderabad have a heavy top-order and some exciting players up their sleeve. The unmatchable blend of overseas players – David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan – make Sunrisers invincible on their day. However, they fell apart last season owing to a lack of middle-order strength and despite that finished fourth in the league. The auction has allowed them to iron out this particular flaw and we could be in for a rather brilliant showing from the Hyderabad-based franchise this year. Their season, could, however, depend on which four overseas players they consistently choose.
Top Players To Watch – IPL 2020
David Warner returned to IPL 2019 after a ban and finished as the leading run-scorer in the season with 692 runs, winning the Orange Cap. The Australian is in terrific form for the national side heading into the IPL this season and how he plays could dictate Sunrisers Hyderabad’s season.
MS Dhoni has been on a lengthy hiatus from the national side but returns for Chennai Super Kings this IPL season. The astute skipper, a fan favourite, is on a wane in terms of his batting, but Chennai’s fortunes could hinge on how good a season he has. Dhoni is out of touch but has resumed training early in order to prove his credentials on the big stage, perhaps one final time.
The young Delhi Capitals skipper made rapid strides for India since the end of the last IPL season. A frenetic ball striker and a composed middle-order batsman, Iyer plays situations brilliantly. He has been thriving in his middle-order role for India in the limited-overs setup and there’s no reason he cannot resume his exemplary form in the IPL where he has 400-plus runs in the last two seasons.
Grabbed for Rs 15.5 crore at the IPL auctions, Kolkata Knight Riders have placed a lot of faith on the Australian seamer who is quickly becoming the best fast bowler currently active in international cricket. Cummins has been a revelation across formats for Australia in recent times. His biggest challenge in this IPL season will be to adapt to Indian conditions and justify his huge price tag.
AB de Villiers
Recently retired from international cricket, AB de Villiers has become a T20 mercenary and a pretty good one at that. His IPL record – an average of 39.95 and a strike rate of 151.23 – speaks for itself and Royal Challengers Bangalore will hope that the South African, off the back of playing in a few T20 leagues
IPL 2020 Winner Predictions
While Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have ruled the IPL, the occasional dark horse has managed to win the odd title and this appears to be one of those seasons. Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad pack a punch with their squad strength. Alongside Mumbai, these three could make it to the play-offs too with Chennai likely to remain outside the play-offs for the first time.
For the sheer balance, astute leadership group and quality of match-winners in the setup, Kolkata Knight Riders are in prime position to win the title this time around.