Smaximum Effect: from your crores to your Cariappas, Nakul's know-it-all guide to IPL12

Nakul Pande

The tournament may have been shunted forward to accommodate the World Cup, and the schedule may have been delayed by the mind-boggling security and logistical operation of the Indian general election, but don't let anyone tell you that this is any sort of IPL Lite.

This is the real deal: 8 star-studded teams duking it out over six weeks or so in the richest, most prestigious and still the biggest of all the world's T20 tournaments. Here's our exhaustive handbook on the 12th edition of this rolling cavalcade of fours, sixes, wickets and thoroughly underwhelmed cheerleaders.

(With statistical contributions by Jules Farman)

IPL

Full, fat, fun: despite the coming demands of the Indian elections and the World Cup this is no IPL Lite

Chennai Super Kings

Last year: Champions – finished 2nd in league stage to Sunrisers Hyderabad, but beat them in Qualifier 1, and thumped the in the final with a brutal 117* off 57 balls by Shane Watson

IPL record: 3 x winners, 3 x runners up, have never failed to make the playoffs. Suspended in 2016 and 2017 due to fallout from a spot-fixing scandal.

Captain: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Coach: Steven Fleming

Home ground: MA Chidambaram Stadium (also known as Chepauk), Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay
All-Rounders**: Dwayne Bravo, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Mitchell Santner, Shane Watson
Wicket-Keepers: Sam Billings, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), N Jagadeesan
Spinners: Karn Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir
Seamers*: KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Monu Kumar, Shardul Thakur

*SA fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was retained, but on 20 March was ruled out of the tournament with a side strain.

**England bowling all-rounder David Willey was retained, but on 29 March pulled out of the tournament to remain in Yorkshire and support his wife through the late birth of their second child.

Bought

Batsmen: Ruturaj Gaekwad (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
Seamers: Mohit Sharma (5 crore rupees; $729,000; £553,000)

Injury replacements (overseas players in bold)

All-Rounders: Scott Kuggeleijn (for fast bowler Lungi Ngidi)

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Kshitiz Sharma
Seamers: Kanishk Seth, Mark Wood

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c) (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Mohit Sharma, Imran Tahir

Other Options

  • Sam Billings or Murali Vijay for Faf du Plessis, and Mitchell Santner (if Vijay) or Ravindra Jadeja (or Billings) for Harbhajan Singh
  • Shardul Thakur for Deepak Chahar or Mohit Sharma
  • Karn Sharma for Harbhajan Singh
  • Ravindra Jadeja for Dwayne Bravo

Strengths

  • Settled and vastly experienced squad with serious IPL pedigree
  • Best supported team in the IPL
  • Strong top order
  • Watson shows no-signs of slowing down – he was the leading run-scorer in the recently concluded PSL, with 430 runs at an average of 43 and a strike-rate of 143.81 (8.63 RPO).
  • Jadhav missed all of last year; if he's fit, his powerful batting and right-arm underground bowling could be a huge asset.
  • Bravo's death bowling
  • Good depth of all-rounders
  • Dhoni's captaincy and wicket-keeping.

Weaknesses

  • Dhoni's batting?
  • There's always a danger this is the one season too many for veterans like Raina, Vijay and Harbhajan.
  • Indian seamers (Mohit, Chahar, Thakur) are very similar, and there is little backup.
  • The loss of Ngidi robs CSK of their only truly fast bowler.
  • Only Tahir is really a wicket-taking spinner.

Delhi Capitals

What's in a name? Delhi have changed their moniker to the Capitals but will still be stationed at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

Delhi Capitals (formerly Delhi Daredevils)

Last year: 8th of 8

IPL record: Semi-finalists in 2008 and 2009, playoffs in 2012; haven't finished higher than 6th since.

Captain: Shreyas Iyer (took over from Gautam Gambhir partway through last year after a disastrous start for both Gambhir and the team)

Coach: Ricky Ponting

Home ground: Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Shreyas Iyer (c), Manjot Kalra, Colin Munro, Prithvi Shaw
All-Rounders: Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia
Wicket-Keepers: Rishabh Pant
Spinners: Sandeep Lamichhane, Amit Mishra
Seamers: Trent Boult, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Kagiso Rabada

Traded In

Batsmen: Shikhar Dhawan from Sunrisers Hyderabad (5.2 crore rupees; $758,000; £571,000)

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Colin Ingram (6.4 crore rupees; $933,000; £708,000), Sherfane Rutherford (2 crore rupees; $292,000; £221,000), Hanuma Vihari (2 crore rupees; $292,000; £221,000)
All-Rounders: Axar Patel (5 crore rupees; $729,000; £553,000), Keemo Paul (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000), Jalaj Saxena (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
Wicket-Keepers: Ankush Bains (20 lakh rupees; $29,000 US; £22,000)
Seamers: Bandara Ayyappa (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Nathu Singh (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Ishant Sharma (1.1 crore rupees; $160,000; £122,000)

Traded Out

All-Rounders: Vijay Shankar to Sunrisers Hyderabad (3.2 crore rupees; $467,000; £354,000), Abhishek Sharma to Sunrisers Hyderabad (55 lakh rupees; $80,000; £61,000)
Spinners: Shahbaz Nadeem to Sunrisers Hyderabad (3.2 crore rupees; $467,000; £354,000), Jayant Yadav to Mumbai Indians (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000)

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Gautam Gambhir, Glenn Maxwell, Jason Roy
All-Rounders: Dan Christian, Gurkeerat Singh Mann
Wicket-Keepers: Naman Ojha
Seamers: Junior Dala, Sayan Ghosh, Liam Plunkett, Mohammed Shami

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (c), Colin Ingram, Rishabh Pant (wk), Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult

Other Options

  • Colin Munro for Rahul Tewatia or Axar Patel
  • Avesh Khan for Ishant Sharma
  • Keemo Paul for Chris Morris
  • Rahul Tewatia or Jalaj Saxena for Axar Patel
  • Sherfane Rutherford for Colin Ingram or Chris Morris
  • Sandeep Lamichhane for Amit Mishra, and Rahul Tewatia for Chris Morris

Strengths

  • Potentially devastating with bat and ball; should certainly be fun to watch
  • Superb young Indian batting talent with Shaw, Iyer and Pant. Pant had an outstanding IPL 2018, with 684 runs (2nd only to Kane Williamson) at an average of 52.61 and a strike rate of 173.60 (10.41 RPO). He is also available for babysitting duties.
  • Dhawan and Ingram add serious class and power to the batting
  • Plenty of good spin options with wrist-spinners Mishra (3 IPL hat-tricks), Lamichhane (has ripped up every T20 league he's played in) and Tewatia, and slow left-arm orthodox Axar and Saxena; even Ingram can be useful as a partnership breaker.
  • Rabada and Boult are world-class

Weaknesses

  • They've consistently been less than the sum of their parts – Delhi Daredevils by any other name?
  • Will need to learn the winning habit quickly
  • High-risk style of play
  • Munro is much weaker against spin than pace.
  • Morris' powers are waning.
  • Lack of Indian fast bowling – Avesh Khan is talented but raw, while Ishant is admirable but not so well suited to T20.
  • No clear off-spin option
  • Vihari's T20 credentials are unclear.
  • Pant's keeping is still a work in progress – could be crucial given the spin options Delhi have
  • The slow Feroz Shah Kotla pitch may negate a powerful batting line-up.
  • Coach Ricky Ponting and mentor Sourav Ganguly could be overwhelming presences in the dugout.

Kings XI Punjab

Loss leaders: Kings XI's fans will hope heavy investment in Indian talent will boost them after they fell away last season

Kings XI Punjab

Last year: 7th of 8 – won 5 of their first 6 games and were joint top, but collapsed horribly losing 7 of their last 8 games including all of their last 5.

IPL record: Semi-finalists in 2008, runners-up in 2014; no other play-off appearances

Captain: R Ashwin

Coach: Mike Hesson

Home ground: PCA Stadium, Mohali, Punjab

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Karun Nair
Wicket-Keepers: KL Rahul
Spinners: R Ashwin, Mujeeb ur Rahman
Seamers: Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye

Traded In

Batsmen: Mandeep Singh from Royal Challengers Bangalore (1.4 crore rupees; $204,000; £155,000)

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Sarfaraz Khan (25 lakh rupees; $36,000; £28,000)
All-Rounders: Agnivesh Ayachi (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Harpreet Brar (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Varun Chakravarty (8.4 crore rupees; $1,215,000; £930,000), Sam Curran (7.2 crore rupees; $1,050,000; £797,000) Moises Henriques (1.1 crore rupees; $160,000; £122,000),
Wicket-Keepers: Nicholas Pooran (4.2 crore rupees; $613,000; £465,000), Prabhsimran Singh (4.8 crore rupees; $700,000; £531,000)
Spinners: Murugan Ashwin (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
Seamers: Mohammed Shami (4.8 crore rupees; $700,000; £531,000), Arshdeep Singh (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Hardus Viljoen (75 lakh rupees; $109,000; £83,000), Darshan Nalkande (30 lakh rupees; $44,000; £33,000)

Traded Out (overseas players in bold)

All-Rounders: Marcus Stoinis to Royal Challengers Bangalore (6.2 crore rupees; $904,000; £687,000)

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Aaron Finch, Akshdeep Nath, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary
All-Rounders: Ben Dwarshuis, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar, Axar Patel, Pardeep Sahu
Seamers: Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Karun Nair, Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Sam Curran, R Ashwin (c), Varun Chakravarty, Andrew Tye, Mujeeb ur Rahman

Other Options

  • David Miller or Nicholas Pooran for Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal to open
  • Moises Henriques for Sam Curran
  • Murugan Ashwin for Varun Chakravarty
  • Sarfaraz Khan for Karun Nair
  • Nicholas Pooran for Karun Nair, Ankit Rajpoot for Andrew Tye
  • Ankit Rajpoot for Sam Curran
  • Mohammed Shami for Andrew Tye, and Nicholas Pooran or David Miller for Karun Nair

Strengths

  • KXIP's best players are up there with anyone's: Gayle, Rahul, Tye, Mujeeb. Tye won the Purple Cap (for the leading wicket-taker) last year, with 24 wickets in 14 games, and is one of only 14 bowlers to take a hat-trick in the 11 years of the IPL.
  • Rahul was brilliant last year, passing 90 three times, includingg the fastest fifty in the tournament's history (off 14 balls v Delhi Daredevils).
  • Ashwin is a clever cricketer and captain, and should pair well with the understated former BlackCaps coach Mike Hesson.
  • The top and middle order is flexible and has plenty of quality back-up.
  • If Pooran works, he'll be a star of the league.
  • Heavy investment in teenage Indian talent with keeper-bat Prabhsimran Singh and spinning all-rounder Varun Chakravarty, refreshing the squad after the overdue departure of the admirable but aging Yuvraj.
  • Lots of wicket-keepers

Weaknesses

  • Too many wicket-keepers?
  • In general, too many players in the same positions
  • They're a streaky team with no track record of consistency.
  • A lot of money spent on Sam Curran, for whom T20 is not his strongest format
  • Miller hasn't done his talent justice in the IPL.
  • Has Gayle still got it?
  • A little light on fast bowling support for Andrew Tye – Shami can be brillIant or awful in T20, often in the same spell, and Rajpoot is useful but not likely to rip through anyone.
  • The IPL's worst kit bar none

Kolkata Knight Riders

Last year: 3rd in the league stage. Knocked out in Qualifier 2 – beaten by Sunrisers and maybe the greatest individual T20 performance of all time from Rashid Khan (34* off 10, 3/19, two catches and a runout)

IPL record: Champions 2012 and 2014; play-offs 2011, and each of the last three years, but haven't made a final in any of those years

Captain: Dinesh Karthik

Coach: Jacques Kallis

Home ground: Eden Gardens, Kolkata, Bengal

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Shubman Gill, Chris Lynn, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Robin Uthappa
All-Rounders: Andre Russell, Sunil Narine
Wicket-Keepers: Dinesh Karthik
Spinners: Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav
Seamers: Murali Prasidh Krishna

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Joe Denly (1 crore rupees; $146,000; £111,000)
All-Rounders: Carlos Brathwaite (5 crore rupees; $729,000; £553,000); Shrikant Munde (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
Wicket-Keepers: Nikhil Naik (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
Seamers: Lockie Ferguson (1.6 crore rupees; $232,000; £175,000), Harry Gurney (75 lakh rupees; $109,000; £83,000), Prithvi Raj (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)

Injury Replacements

Spinners: KC Cariappa (for fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti)
Seamers: Sandeep Warrier (for fast bowler Shivam Mavi)

It was announced on 20 March that SA fast bowler Anrich Nortje will also miss the tournament with a shoulder injury – injury replacement TBC.

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Ishank Jaggi, Apoorv Wankhade
All-Rounders: Tom Curran, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles
Seamers: Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Vinay Kumar

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (c) (wk), Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Piyush Chawla, Sandeep Warrier, Kuldeep Yadav, Harry Gurney

Other Options

  • Lockie Ferguson for Harry Gurney
  • Murali Prasidh Krishna or KC Cariappa for Sandeep Warrier
  • Joe Denly for Nitish Rana, and Sandeep Warrier or Murali Prasidh Krishna for Harry Gurney
  • Carlos Brathwaite for Andre Russell (if Russell isn't fit)

Strengths

  • Settled batting lineup where everyone knows their job: Narine and Lynn blast off; Uthappa plays his shots; Karthik, Gill and Rana float and adapt to the situation.
  • The league's best pure T20 opening pair in Narine and Lynn – both ferocious power hitters, enabled by the management to play without fear
  • Best spin attack in the tournament: Narine and Kuldeep are world-class, Chawla's still got it, and with Rana and Denly capable of bowling 4 overs, KKR could bowl 18-20 overs of spin if need be. Kuldeep is ranked 5th among T20I bowlers, and is one of only two Indians along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar to have a 5-for in all three international formats.
  • Good quick bowlers too, and properly quick with Russell (if fit) and Ferguson, plus the canny T20 skills of the in-form Gurney and the rapidly improving Brathwaite
  • Gurney could be one of the bargains of the tournament – smart work in the auction by KKR, and smart by him to set a low base price.
  • Dinesh Karthik is a good captain and keeper, and a dangerous T20 batsman in almost any circumstances.
  • Extremely cohesive unit

Weaknesses

  • Smallest squad in the tournament – could be an issue if (even more) injuries strike
  • Lynn and Russell's injury records in particular are a concern.
  • Lynn can be slowed down by spin.
  • Will Narine be found out as a pinch-hitter?
  • Lot of money spent on Carlos Brathwaite – he's becoming a useful restrictive bowler, but he is not the batsman of the 2016 World T20
  • Have lost three fast bowlers – India U19 World Cup winners Mavi and Nagarkoti, and SA speedster Nortje – to injury before the tournament has even begun, from an already small squad. Prasidh Krishna and Warrier will need to step up.

Mumbai Indians

Last year: 5th of 8; always one for the slow-burn, they won 5 of their last 6 games but 1 win in their first 7 left them too much to do to make the play-offs.

IPL record: Champions in 2013, 2015 and 2017, runners-up in 2010, made playoffs in 2011, 2012 and 2014

Captain: Rohit Sharma

Coach: Mahela Jayawardene

Home ground: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav
All-Rounders: Ben Cutting, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Anukul Roy
Wicket-Keepers: Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare
Spinners: Rahul Chahar, Mayank Markande
Seamers*: Jason Behrendorff, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan

*NZ fast bowler Adam Milne was retained, but on 21 March was ruled out of the tournament with a heel injury. Injury replacement TBC.

Traded In (overseas players in bold)

Wicket-Keepers: Quinton de Kock from Royal Challengers Bangalore (2.8 crore rupees; $406,000; £306,000)
Spinners: Jayant Yadav from Delhi Capitals (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000)

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Anmolpreet Singh (80 lakh rupees; $116,000; £87,000), Yuvraj Singh (1 crore rupees; $146,000; £111,000)
All-Rounders: Pankaj Jaiswal (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
Seamers*: Lasith Malinga (2 crore rupees; $292,000; £221,000), Rasikh Salam (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Barinder Sran (3.4 crore rupees; $496,000; £376,000)

*Lasith Malinga has been made available for the whole IPL, having initially been told by Sri Lanka Cricket he had to play the whole of the domestic 50 over tournament. He may still miss part of the IPL.

Injury replacements (overseas players in bold)

Seamers: Alzarri Joseph (for fast bowler Adam Milne)

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: JP Duminy, Sharad Lumba, Saurabh Tiwary
All-Rounders: Tajinder Singh
Spinners: Akila Dananjaya
Seamers: Pat Cummins, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, Mustafizur Rahman, Pradeep Sangwan

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah

Other Options

  • Rohit has said he will open, but with Lewis and de Kock in the squad he will struggle to keep doing that throughout the campaign. Expect him to move down the order in place of Ishan Kishan, Evin Lewis to come in at the top of the order, and Barinder Sran to come in for Ben Cutting or Mitchell McClenaghan.
  • Jason Behrendorff or (when available) Lasith Malinga for Mitchell McClenaghan
  • Rahul Chahar or Jayant Yadav for Mayank Markande

Strengths

  • Seemingly unkillable – forever recovering from terrible starts to games and indeed whole tournaments.
  • Bumrah is the world's best death bowler, and even an aging Malinga is still capable.
  • Good overseas fast bowlers, albeit Milne's absence will be felt.
  • If Markande can repeat last year's form, he will be a threat.
  • Excellent top-order – he doesn't have the star power of Rohit, Lewis or de Kock, but underrate Suryakumar at your peril.
  • All-round threat from the Pandya brothers
  • Rohit is a fine T20 captain.
  • Lots of good wicket-keeping options

Weaknesses

  • Too many good wicket-keeping options, and too many top-order players – Rohit will have to be shunted down the order, or one of de Kock or Lewis can't play.
  • Is Lewis fully fit?
  • Is Hardik fully fit?
  • 1 crore for Yuvraj???
  • The squad has a stale look to it – Lewis hasn't recaptured his best form, and Pollard and Malinga can't have long left.
  • Of the four spinners only Markande is a consistent wicket-taker, though Krunal Pandya is certainly talented.
  • Lack of death bowling back-up for Bumrah

Rajasthan Royals

Last year: 4th in the league stage. Knocked out in the eliminator by a late blitz from the KKR middle order, in particular Andre Russell.

IPL record: Champions in 2008 (1st year of the IPL). Playoffs in 2013, 2014 and 2018, did not make the final in any of those years. Suspended in 2016 and 2017 due to fallout from a spot-fixing scandal.

Captain: Ajinkya Rahane

Coach: Paddy Upton

Home ground: Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Aryaman Birla, Prasant Chopra, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Rahul Tripathi
All-Rounders: Jofra Archer, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Krishnappa Gowtham, Mahipal Lomror, Ben Stokes
Wicket-Keepers: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson
Spinners: Sudhesan Mudun, Ish Sodhi
Seamers: Dhawal Kulkarni

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Riyan Parag (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Liam Livingstone (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000), Shashank Singh (30 lakh rupees; $44,000; £33,000), Manan Vohra (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000)
All-Rounders: Ashton Turner (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000)
Seamers: Varun Aaron (2.4 crore rupees; $350,000; £266,000), Oshane Thomas (1.1 crore rupees; $160,000; £122,000), Jaydev Unadkat (8.4 crore rupees; $1,215,000; £930,000)*

*Unadkat was released by Rajasthan, and so entered the auction pool, but was bought back early in the auction. Rajasthan thus managed to keep a key player for a 25% price reduction. As he will be playing for Rajasthan, we are not treating him as a released player.

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: D'Arcy Short
All-Rounders: Jatin Saxena
Wicket-Keepers: Heinrich Klaasen
Spinners: Ankit Sharma, Zahir Khan
Seamers: Dushmantha Chameera, Ben Laughlin, Anureet Singh

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Jos Buttler (wk), Ajinkya Rahane (c), Steve Smith, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat

Other Options

  • Manan Vohra for Steve Smith
  • Ashton Turner or Liam Livingstone for Steve Smith
  • Liam Livingstone for Ben Stokes or Jofra Archer
  • Varun Aaron for Dhawal Kulkarni
  • Ish Sodhi for Shreyas Gopal, and Manan Vohra for Steve Smith
  • Oshane Thomas for Dhawal Kulkarni, and Manan Vohra for Steve Smith
  • Jofra Archer opened the batting on occasion last year

Strengths

  • Strongest XI is really-well balanced.
  • Jos Buttler – swoon. Was brilliant last year at the top of the order and had a very good recent Big Bash.
  • Powerful middle and lower-order from Tripathi down to Gowtham, with Livingstone and Turner waiting in the wings.
  • Getting Unadkat back cheaper could be a masterstroke.
  • Rahane goes under the radar in T20, but he is effective in the Powerplay, useful in a collapse and a good, calm leader.
  • Will be a lot of fun to watch

Weaknesses

  • Unclear how long Buttler, Stokes, Archer (if picked) and Smith (if fit) will be around for with the World Cup looming in May
  • Is Steve Smith fully fit?
  • Even if he is, can he and Rahane play in the same XI without slowing things down too much?
  • Ben Stokes has had one brilliant IPL and one poor one – how will he fare?
  • Ish Sodhi is a fantastic T20 spinner and seems doomed to spend another season on the sidelines.
  • Only three Indian fast bowlers

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Last year: 6th of 8 – were never really in the hunt for the playoffs, failing to win consecutive games until it was really too late.

IPL record: Runners-up in 2009, 2011 and 2016, playoffs in 2010 and 2015. Have been awful for the last two years despite (or perhaps due to) a Galactico-like array of talent.

Captain: Virat Kohli

Coach: Gary Kirsten – replaced Daniel Vettori, who's lost a number of T20 coaching gigs due to serial underperformance

Home ground: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, Karnataka

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers
All-Rounders: Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar
Wicket-Keepers: Parthiv Patel
Spinners: Yuzvendra Chahal
Seamers: Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kulwant Khejroliya, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav

Traded In (overseas players in bold)

All-Rounders: Marcus Stoinis from Kings XI Punjab (6.2 crore rupees; $904,000; £687,000)

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Shimron Hetmyer (4.2 crore rupees; $613,000; £465,000), Milind Kumar (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Akshdeep Nath (3.6 crore rupees; $525,000; £399,000), Devdutt Padikkal (20 lakh rupees; $29,000; £22,000), Gurkeerat Singh (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000), Himmat Singh (65 lakh rupees; $95,000; £72,000)
All-Rounders: Shivam Dube (5 crore rupees; $729,000; £553,000), Prayas Ray Barman* (1.5 crore rupees; $219,000; £166,000)
Wicket-Keepers: Heinrich Klaasen (50 lakh rupees; $73,000; £55,000)

* At 16, Kolkata born-and-raised Barman, a leg-spinning all-rounder, is player in IPL history, and the youngest ever to fetch over 1 crore. He was Bengal's top wicket-taker in the Vijay Hazare Trophy (List A equivalent to the Ranji Trophy), with 11 wickets in 9 games at an average of 23 and an economy rate of 4.45 RPO, that too in his first professional season.

Traded Out (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Mandeep Singh to Kings XI Punjab (1.4 crore rupees; $204,000; £155,000)
Wicket-Keepers: Quinton de Kock to Mumbai Indians (2.8 crore rupees; $406,000; £306,000)

Released (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Aniruddha Joshi, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum, Manan Vohra
All-Rounders: Corey Anderson, Pavan Deshpande, Chris Woakes
Spinners: Murugan Ashwin
Seamers: Aniket Choudhary

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

Parthiv Patel (wk), Shimron Hetymer, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Marcus Stoinis, Colin de Grandhomme, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Prayas Ray Barman, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav

Other Options

  • Kohli or de Grandhomme to open
  • Moeen in for Stoinis or de Grandhomme – Moeen is another option to open
  • Negi in for Barman
  • Dube in for Gurkeerat
  • Coulter-Nile or Southee in for Barman or Mann, and Negi in for Gurkeerat
  • Klaasen in for Stoinis or de Grandhomme

Strengths

  • Kohli, de Villiers and Hetmyer – theoretical swoon. Please let it at least be fun...
  • Good spinners, and lots of them
  • Klaasen was useful for Rajasthan last year, and could be a steal at 50 lakh
  • Lots of good all-rounders

Weaknesses

  • Too many good all-rounders, who can't possibly all play in the same XI
  • Unbalanced squad generally – too many all-rounders and hit-a-length quick bowlers, not enough top order batsmen. There isn't a single specialist opener in the squad, so it's anyone's guess who's at the top of the order.
  • Thus Kohli may have to open, which isn't the best use of his abilities.
  • Kohli's T20 captaincy is open to question.
  • The death bowling was atrocious last year, and there's no reason to suspect it'll be any better this year – Southee, Coulter-Nile, Umesh, Siraj and Saini are all better in the Powerplay or in the middle overs. The only team you wouldn't always back to defend 230.
  • Over the last two years, RCB turned from the great entertainers into a joke, and not even a particularly fun one – it remains to be seen whether Gary Kirsten can reset the team culture and make them a coherent unit.
  • Which Chinnaswamy pitch will turn up this year – the fast-scoring belter, or the slow turner?

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Last year: Runners-up – topped the league stage, lost to CSK in the first qualifier, needing maybe the greatest individual T20 performance ever from Rashid Khan to beat KKR in the eliminator (34* off 10, 3/19, two catches and a run-out), and got brutalised by Shane Watson to lose the final to CSK.

IPL record: Replaced the Deccan Chargers from the 2013 season on. Champions in 2016, runners-up in 2018, playoffs in 2013 and 2017. Consistently the best bowling team in the IPL.

Captain: Kane Williamson

Coach: Tom Moody

Home ground: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, Telangana

Retained (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Ricky Bhui, Manish Pandey, David Warner, Kane Williamson
All-Rounders: Shakib Al Hasan, Deepak Hooda, Mohammad Nabi, Yusuf Pathan
Wicket-Keepers: Shreevats Goswami
Spinners: Rashid Khan
Seamers: Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma, Billy Stanlake, Basil Thampi

Traded In

All-Rounders:Vijay Shankar (3.2 crore rupees; $467,000; £354,000), Abhishek Sharma (55 lakh rupees; $80,000; £61,000) – both from Delhi Capitals
Spinners: Shahbaz Nadeem from Delhi Capitals (3.2 crore rupees; $467,000; £354,000)

Bought (overseas players in bold)

Batsmen: Martin Guptill (1 crore rupees; $146,000; £111,000)
Wicket-Keepers: Jonny Bairstow (2.2 crore rupees; $321,000; £244,000), Wriddhiman Saha (1.2 crore rupees; $175,000; £133,000)*

*Saha was released by Sunrisers, and so entered the auction pool, but was bought back early in the auction. Sunrisers thus managed to keep a key player for a 75% price reduction. As he will be playing for Sunrisers, we are not treating him as a released player.

Traded Out

Batsmen: Shikhar Dhawan to Delhi Capitals (5.2 crore rupees; $758,000; £571,000)

Released

Batsmen: Tanmay Agarwal, Sachin Baby, Alex Hales
All-Rounders: Carlos Brathwaite, Mehedi Hasan, Bipul Sharma
Seamers: Chris Jordan

Potential Playing XI (overseas players in bold)

David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed

Other Options

  • Martin Guptill for David Warner or Jonny Bairstow
  • Shakib Al Hasan or Mohammad Nabi for David Warner or Jonny Bairstow, and Kane Williamson moves up to open
  • Sandeep Sharma for Siddarth Kaul
  • Billy Stanlake for Khaleel Ahmed, and Ricky Bhui for David Warner or Jonny Bairstow
  • Billy Stanlake for Khaleel Ahmed, and Shahbaz Nadeem for David Warner or Jonny Bairstow with Kane Williamson moving up to open
  • Yusuf Pathan for Deepak Hooda
  • Yusuf Pathan for Wriddhiman Saha, Jonny Bairstow takes the gloves

Strengths

  • The best bowling team in the IPL – so many options, including players like Shakib, Nabi, Sandeep and Stanlake who won't play every game. And in Bhuvi and white ball GOAT Rashid Khan, they have two of the very best. They are the only team you'd back to defend 130.
  • Rashid Khan is the world's no.1 ranked T20I bowler, while Nabi is no.5.
  • Have recruited smartly to offset the loss of Dhawan – Bairstow adds power at the top of the order and brilliant outfielding; Warner if fit and focused is a huge asset; and the three Indian all-rounders Shankar, Nadeem and Abhishek Sharma balance the roster.
  • Abhishek Sharma scored 46* off 19 for Delhi last year vs RCB in one of the rare chances he got (though Delhi still lost, thanks to one of the rare occurrences of the AB-&-Kohli Show). He is the second youngest player in this year's tournament at 18 years old.
  • Well captained by Williamson, who found a way to score quickly without compromising his core game of finding gaps and playing smart – he was last year's Orange Cap winner, topping the run-scoring charts with 735 runs, at an average of 52.50, at a strike rate of 142.44 (8.55 RPO).
  • Saha is one of the world's very best wicket-keepers – vital with spinners of Rashid's class.
  • They are a team, not a collection of names, hence the targeted acquisitions rather than a spending spree.

Weaknesses

  • The squad is quite small, and heavily weighted towards bowlers and all-rounders, with top-order bench strength limited.
  • Shakib was a vital part of last year's team, but the balance of the squad means it's difficult for him to find his way in – ditto the adaptable Nabi.
  • Kaul began to get hit around towards the end of last year's competition, and has struggled with the step up to international cricket.
  • Bhuvi and Saha will both need to be carefully handled, having had long-term injuries exacerbated last year by mismanagement.
  • Is Warner fully fit?
  • Is Warner fully focused? It's been to say the least a weird year for him ...

There you have it! All 8 teams, laid out before you like a fine cricketing smorgasboard. We'll have ball-by-ball commentary every game from this first weekend and Monday LIVE, and more besides, here on guerillacricket.com and, in partnership with our friends at CricTracker India, on Facebook Live. Let the games begin!

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @guerillacricket for news, in-game updates, and up-to-date details of our coverage of this year's tournament!

A note on currencies: one lakh is 100,000 (one hundred thousand) rupees, 1 crore is 10,000,000 (ten million) rupees. Conversions to US dollars and British pounds are correct as of 21 May 2019, and are rounded to the nearest 1,000.

14 April 2019 – Article updated with the news of Delhi Capitals' Harshal Patel being ruled out for the season, to be replaced by Jagadeesha Suchith.

12 April 2019 – Article updated with the news of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Nathan Coulter-Nile being ruled out for the season, to be replaced by Dale Steyn.

31 March 2019 – Article updated with the news of Chennai Super Kings bringing in Scott Kuggeleijn as an injury replacement for Lungi Ngidi, and losing the services of David Willey for the season due to family reasons.

28 March 2019 – Article updated with the news of Mumbai Indians bringing in Alzarri Joseph as an injury replacement for Adam Milne.

26 March 2019 – Article updated to take account of the increased availability of Lasith Malinga.

23 March 2019 – Article updated to take account of the tournament-ending injury to Adam Milne and the partial unavailability of Lasith Malinga.

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