Both Sunrisers and Royals are feeling the repercussions of the Australia ball-tampering episode after losing the services of David Warner and Steve Smith respectively, both of whom were designated two lead their sides.
In the absence of the two Aussie crowd favourites, Ajinkya Rahane has been appointed as the skipper of the Royals while Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson has taken the reins at Hyderabad.
Warner’s loss cannot be understated for the Sunrisers. The left-hander is the most successful overseas international in the history of the IPL and the outfit will hope that Williamson can fill in those big boots with their batting looking a little thin.
They will however, bank on having one of the best looking bowling attacks on paper with the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Afghan leg-spin prodigy Rashid Khan in their ranks.
On the other hand, Royals have vast riches in their overseas department to cope with the loss of Smith. With the likes of D’Arcy Short, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes at their disposal, the 2008 winners will fancy themselves against any opponent if those four can get firing.
Where they do lack though, is in their domestic ranks where they have no big names apart from Ajinkya Rahane.
PLAYERS IN FOCUS
After making his return recently to international cricket after an indefinite suspension, Stokes will be itching to remind the world once again of his outrageous talents and there’s no better place than the IPL to do that.
One the other hand, Rahul Tripathi impressed one and all in the IPL for Rising Pune Super Giant last year with some eye-catching displays and he could be a wild card for the Royals batting line-up this year at the top.
Another man who could cause damage is Smith’s replacement – Heinrich Klaasen, who gave a great account of himself when India toured South Africa. The wicket-keeper batsman has the weapons to unsettle any spinner and could be a handful on Indian tracks.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson (C), Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Sidharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma.
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Jos Buttler, Stuart Binny, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to put their disastrous 2017 campaign behind them when they travel to Kolkata to play the Knight Riders in their tournament opener on Sunday (18:30).
Virat Kohli has taken regular breaks over the past few months to keep himself operating at optimum level and the Bangalore captain said he has almost reached that level at the start of this edition of the IPL.
The Knight Riders are making a fresh start under the leadership of Dinesh Karthik after severing ties with the long serving Gautam Gambhir.
Kolkata are without fast bowler Mitchell Starc but have decent cover in the pace bowling department. England’s Tom Curran, West Indies’ Andre Russell and even India Under-19 World Cup heroes Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivami Mavi are capable of carrying the workload. On the batting front, the form and fitness of destructive opening batsman Chris Lynn will determine how far Kolkata go in the tournament.
Bangalore have the luxury of Kohli and AB de Villiers in the form of their lives. There is every chance of repeating the feats of 2016 where Kohli made 973 runs and AB 687. However, pace bowling is not their strongest suit. The Royal Challengers will rely on the wily spin of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar.
PLAYERS IN FOCUS
The Knight Riders picked the cream of India’s Under-19 World Cup winning team. Top order batsman Shubman Gill and fast bowlers Nagarkoti and Mavi will be raring to have a go at a stage bigger and more challenging than the U19 World Cup. It is unlikely Kolkata will go in with all three right at the start of the tournament but expect two to be part of the mix. The fast bowlers especially will be under scrutiny as one will know whether they have it in them to stand up to the big boys.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik (c), Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Tom Curran, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Quinton de Kock, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Washington Sundar, Tim Southee, Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
Chennai Super Kings all-rounder Dwayne Bravo scored a scintillating 68 off 30 balls to pull off a one-wicket win over defending champions Mumbai Indians in the opening match of IPL 2018 on Saturday.
Chennai were 118-8 chasing 166 when Bravo opened his shoulders in the last three overs. He hit seven sixes during his knock and almost took his team home, getting out with seven needed for victory. There were some anxious moments in the final over but Kedar Jadhav too the team past the finish line.
Here we analyse Bravo’s breath-taking effort in Mumbai.
BALLS FACED: 30
STRIKE RATE: 226.6
It was a match Mumbai dominated for about 35 overs. At 118-8, Chennai were almost out of the equation. But tell that to Bravo. The West Indies all-rounder rolled back the years as he went after Mumbai’s premier fast bowlers Mitchell McClenaghan (1-44) and Jasprit Bumrah (1-37) to pull off one of the most remarkable T20 wins and cap a victorious comeback to the league for the Super Kings. Chennai fans have waited for two years to be a part of the IPL and Bravo’s performance was the prefect gift for them. Earlier bowled four over for 25. World-class effort.
Are you counting? Bowled four overs for 25. Came in at No7 and when the team was 118-8 chasing 166 smashed 68 off 30 balls. Seven sixes against some of the best death overs bowlers takes courage and a lot skill. Even at 34, Bravo is going strong.
Got out with seven needed. Went for the glory shot against Bumrah after hitting him for three sixes. Kedar Jadhav struggled in the final over and had Jadhav not got those audacious boundaries, Bravo’s shot would’ve hurt for a long time.
One of the finest batting efforts you will see in T20 cricket. The game was gone with three overs remaining but Bravo used all his experience to show that in T20 it’s never over until it is over. Massive boost for the returning Super Kings.