The last few months have been a bit dull for all cricket fans following the uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian players have been off the field from the past 6 months and will make a return with the much anticipated IPL 2020. The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League is set to begin on September 19 until November 10 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But, the 53-day tournament will be played in empty stadiums where spectators will be found missing.
The cash-rich T20 cricket league faced many adversities and BCCI stood firm to host the league and decided that IPL 2020 will be a Television-only event. After getting the green signal from the Indian government to host IPL outside India, another controversy erupted in the backdrop of the Galwan Valley clash, amid the Indo-China border tussle. Title sponsors VIVO backed out and online fantasy sports company- Dream 11 won the title sponsorship rights after bidding Rs 222 crores and that is why this season will be called Dream 11 IPL 2020.
Condition in the UAE will be vastly different from that in India. IPL 2020 will have an electrifying start as reigning champions Mumbai Indians will go against Chennai Super Kings in the opening game. Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are the three venues which will host the mega tournament and according to the fixtures released, 24 matches will be held in Dubai, 20 in Abu Dhabi and 12 in Sharjah. The board also took the necessary actions to protect the players and others involved in making IPL 2020 will have to be part of a bio-secure bubble.
As witnessed before in the Abu Dhabi T10 league and CPL, the onfield pitch conditions in all 3 venues are slow and low. As the tournament progresses the wickets will deteriorate further and hence we might not witness high-scoring games very often. Therefore, considering the slowness of the pitches, the gameplans of the teams will change drastically. Players from Australia and England will miss the first three days of the tournament but the question surrounding in every cricket-starving fan is whether the players can deliver from the word go after spending close to 5 months in isolation?
MS Dhoni fans are already excited to see him conquer the field, having said goodbye to international cricket, IPL will be the only prospect where his fans will get to watch him play cricket. RCB under Virat Kohli will look to end the trophy drought and emerge as champions after 13 seasons. Delhi Capitals is a totally revamped squad with young talents and KL Rahul will have his first stint leading as captain for the Kings XI Punjab. Defending champions Mumbai Indians who have always had depth in their squad will look to win their fifth title.
Let’s have a look at the possible playing XI of each team
Chennai Super Kings:
CSK was the last team to start training as players finally returned to the field on September 4 after their third round of coronavirus tests in UAE. 13 members of the camp tested positive for coronavirus and the entire contingent had to quarantine themselves for longer than expected. Also, they faced another jolt when their two experienced Indian players, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh decided to opt-out of the tournament citing personal reasons.
CSK’s tentative playing 11: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
It’s high time fans in Bengaluru have been chanting ‘Ee Sala Cup Namde‘ and Virat Kohli led side will look to end its IPL title drought this season. With a rock-solid top-order batting, RCB has tried to strengthen its pace bowling and all-rounder department in the IPL auction 2020. However, the lack of firepower at the lower down the order is still a big worry.
RCB’s tentative playing 11: Aaron Finch/Parthiv Patel, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar/Shahbaz Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn. Yuzvendra Chahal.
Delhi Capitals has one of the best assortments of India internationals comprising Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan and coach Ricky Ponting would not expect anything less than qualification for playoffs. With the addition of R Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane, Delhi Capitals will look to bring home the trophy this year.
DC’s tentative playing 11: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Kasigo Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma.
The ‘Orange Army’ have managed to put together a decent squad featuring the likes of experienced players and aspiring youngsters. They have been one of the most consistent teams over the years in terms of finishing in the top four and they will look to repeat it this season too.
SRH’s tentative playing 11: David Warner (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Virat Singh, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul/Sandeep Sharma
Defending champions Mumbai Indians have the most balanced squad. Batting would be MI’s strength with Rohit, de Kock as an opener along with Suryakumar, Pandya brothers, and Pollard in the middle-order.
MI tentative playing 11: Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McLenaghan, Trent Boult, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah.
Steve Smith will lead the side which looks average on paper. Although the squad doesn’t seem to be a championship-winning outfit they can perform well on certain conditions having made some daunting acquisitions in the IPL 2020 auction.
RR’s tentative playing 11: Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith (c), Ben Stokes, Robin Uthappa, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Jofra Archer, Ankit Rajpoot/Kartik Tyagi
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the strongest teams on paper and have a great pool of players to choose from. The two-time champions will be led by Dinesh Karthik and have world-class all-rounders in Sunil Narine and Andre Russell to complement young Indian bowlers.
KKR’s tentative playing 11: Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Rinku Singh/Siddhesh Lad/Rahul Tripathi, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi/Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Sandeep Warrier
Kings XI Punjab:
KL Rahul is in his first assignment as an IPL captain, and Anil Kumble as the new head coach, Kings XI Punjab might be the dark horse of this season’s IPL and can upset all odds. They have refreshed their squad by replacing four of its foreigners from last season with Glenn Maxwell, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Jordan and James Neesham.
KXIP tentative playing 11: K. L. Rahul (C & Wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Glenn Maxwell, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.