Mumbai Indians were the champions in 2013 and coming into 2014 they will be one of the top sides to watch out for as well. They have retained a substantial chunk of the side that was victorious in 2013 and won the Champions League T20 that year as well. However, there have been some changes in personnel – names like Sachin Tendulkar, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson are missing. It remains to be seen whether their absence will have an effect on the team as such.
Strengths: The team has an exceptionally strong bowling line up with as many as 7 bowlers with international experience – Josh Hazlewood, Zaheer Khan, Marchant de Lange, Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha, Krishmar Santokie and Harbhajan Singh. There is almost an embarrassment of riches in this department.
Weakness: The team features batsmen such as Mike Hussey, Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma, Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard. However, it still looks light compared to the bowlers at MI’s beck and call. This is where the decision to leave out a tried and tested player such as Dinesh Karthik comes as a surprise. Also strange is the decision to have 4 wicketkeepers in the side and none of them is a proven international performer like Karthik.
First XI: Rohit Sharma, Mike Hussey, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Aditya Tare, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Zaheer Khan and Pragyan Ojha.
Following the horrors of last season the Delhi Daredevils management had decided to wipe the slate clean this year with the exception of Kevin Pietersen, who will be leading the side in this edition. He will be pairing up with Gary Kirsten and a much better performance will be expected in 2014.
Strengths: The Delhi side is a well balanced one in every department with good players spread across each discipline. However, the batting looks a bit better compared to the bowling but then the difference is fairly negligible.
Weakness: It is hard to pick a problem area as such in a team that is as well selected as Delhi Daredevils. However, the relative lack of experience in the bowling department could be a dampener if the main players were to suffer injuries of any sort.
First XI: Kevin Pietersen, Murali Vijay, Manoj Tiwary, JP Duminy, Saurav Tiwary, Dinesh Karthik, Jimmy Neesham, Wayne Parnell, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Sharma, and Mohammad Shami
Kings XI Punjab
Since the last major auction in 2011 the Mohali based team was unable to achieve anything significant in spite of promising so much. This year they went ahead and retained only a couple of players – David Miller and Manan Vohra. With a new captain in George Bailey and a new coach in Sanjay Bangar the Punjab team will be looking for a new, and positive, beginning this year.
Strength: The batting with the likes of Sehwag, Miller and Marsh along with skipper Bailey has a slight edge over the bowling where Mitchell Johnson is the biggest star without a doubt.
Weakness: The spin bowling is a little thin with only Murali Karthik and Glenn Maxwell being the major names in this department. Also strange is the choice of George Bailey as the captain. It means that one of Marsh, Miller and Maxwell will have to miss out or if all of them are accommodated then perhaps an international bowler like Johnson will have to be left out.
First XI: Virender Sehwag, Shaun Marsh, George Bailey, Cheteshwar Pujara, Glenn Maxwell, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishi Dhawan, Mitchell Johnson, Murali Karthik, Parvinder Awana and Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The 2012 IPL champions were unable to repeat the magic a year later – they even failed to progress to the CLT20. So, the team management opted to retain the services of only skipper Gautam Gambhir and spin magician Sunil Narine.
Strengths: The team has a commendable lineup of allrounders in Jacques Kallis, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate and Andre Russell. The bowling also features the likes of Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Pat Cummins, and Piyush Chawla thus providing plenty of options should the need arise.
Weakness: The batting, in spite the presence of Gambhir, Pathan, Uthappa and Chris Lynn appears to be a little thin. The team will also face some problems in choosing which 4 overseas players will appear in the first eleven.
First XI: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Manvinder Bisla, Piyush Chawla Vinay Kumar, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav