Who do you think will win IPL 2017? Which batsman will win the Orange Cap and which bowler will take home the Purple Cap?
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?
Participating in the IPL for the first time, a lot was expected from Rising Pune Supergiant [RPS]. After all, they had a captain in MS Dhoni who had reached the semi-finals every single time in the competition’s history.
But it wasn’t to be for the Pune-based franchise as they could only manage a seventh place finish after registering just five wins from 14 matches during the campaign.
Ajinkya Rahane had a solid season with the bat, scoring 480 runs at an average of 43.63 which included six half-centuries.
Adam Zampa was easily Pune’s most impressive bowler in 2016, picking up 12 wickets in just five matches, including a career-best 6-19 against SunRisers Hyderabad.
WHAT IS NEW THIS YEAR?
Pune have a new captain, with Australia skipper Steve Smith replacing Dhoni at the helm and it’ll be interesting to see how the Pune players adapt to Smith’s leadership.
After a poor season last year, Supergiant have as many as 12 new faces in their squad – which includes Mayank Agarwal and Shardul Thakur whom they acquired from other franchises outside the auction.
At the auction, they bought a total of nine players, including Ben Stokes for a whopping INR 14.5 cr and they will be hopeful that the English all-rounder can help turn their fortunes around.
An injury to Mitchell Marsh also saw them get in South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who is currently ranked as the number one bowler in T20Is and ODIs in the world. Quite a handy replacement.
HOW WILL THEY DO?
In the recent Test between India and Australia in Pune, we saw a pitch that heavily favoured the spinners and although it’s unlikely, a similar pitch would be good for the franchise as they have Tahir and Zampa in their ranks. Ravichandran Ashwin, though, will be a big miss.
Pune have a lot of experience in the batting department, with the likes of Dhoni, Smith, Rahane, Faf du Plessis, and Stokes, and their progress will be very dependent on their performances.
Still, when you compare this squad with some of the other squads in the league, it wouldn’t go down as one of the strongest and so it won’t be surprising if they fail to make the playoffs again.
Captain: Steve Smith (overseas)
Batsmen: Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis (overseas), Baba Aparajith, Usman Khawaja (overseas), Mayank Agarwal, Milind Tandon, Rahul Tripathi, Manoj Tiwary.
All-rounders: Rajat Bhatia, Ben Stokes (overseas), Saurabh Kumar, Dan Christian (overseas).
Wicket-keepers: MS Dhoni, Ankush Bains.
Bowlers: Ashok Dinda, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Adam Zampa (overseas), Jaskaran Singh, Deepak Chahar, Jaydev Unadkat, Rahul Chahar, Lockie Ferguson (overseas), Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir (overseas).