Earlier this week, we argued why the absence of overseas players will not dent the quality of IPL by any imagination and now, we’re here to prove our point. What will be the outlook of each and every franchise if they only had Indian players and, in that case, how strong would they be?
Chennai Super Kings
Playing XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wk) (c), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla.
Team Overview: Taking into account the current form and fitness of the players, it can be said that this team boasts of a slow and fragile top order that might not pose a great deal of threat to the bowlers. But saying that, in the form of Dhoni, Jadhav and Jadeja, it does have a formidable lower-order and the experience-heavy bowling, one must imagine, would knock out most of the sides in the world. This lot is not going to give you a sniff at Chepauk, that’s for sure.
Bench strength: With R Sai Kishore, Karn Sharma, Monu Singh and KM Asif, they are stocked up pretty well in the bowling department, but Narayan Jagadeesan being the only backup batsman is a major concern.
Overall rating: A
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Team Overview: It looks like the normal RCB team with absolutely no star power, doesn’t it? Take Kohli away from this team and you have a ready-made contender for the wooden spoon. That their bowling is still full-strength even after the absence of foreign players is a bonus, but is it of much use when it’s these very same bowlers who have been costing you matches season after season. Is this a team good enough to make the playoffs? Not in their wildest dreams, in my opinion.
Bench strength: Staggeringly, RCB have just two Indians in their bench - Wicket-keeper Shahbaz Ahmed and all-rounder Pawan Negi. The last thing you need is a thin squad, especially when your starting XI isn’t that strong in the first place.
Overall rating: B-
Playing XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Anmolpreet Singh, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Aditya Tare, Krunal Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah.
Team Overview: Now this is what I call a team. Loaded from top to bottom and, apart from that, extremely well-balanced. They have power hitters at the top, run accumulators in the middle, finishers down below and to top it all, world-class pacers and spinners who are tailor-made for T20 cricket. You honestly cannot ask for anything more. A dream team, perhaps? Champion material, if you ask me.
Bench strength: In stark contrast to their starting XI, Mumbai’s bench is pretty drab. Barring Sourabh Tiwary and Anukul Roy, they only have three youngsters who are seemingly unproven at every level - Prince Balwant Rai, Digvijay Deshmukh and Mohsin Khan. But the MI management have always managed to pull a rabbit out of hats, so who knows, a world-class player might just be hiding in either of these three aforementioned youngsters.
Overall rating: A+
Playing XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Harshal Patel, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Avesh Khan, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra.
Team Overview: ‘HOLY S***’ was all I could say looking at this XI. I mean, just look at it. Nine of the eleven players in the starting XI are established international cricketers and IPL veterans who have been dynamites for every franchise they’ve played for. Do you want youth? You have it in the form of Iyer, Pant and Shaw. Do you want experience? You can pick any player blindfolded from the XI. You want an unknown x-factor? No worries, you have both Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel, both of who are coming on the back of incredible domestic seasons. A scary XI, I must say.
Bench strength: They have three viable options in the bench who could potentially do a handy job for the team - Lalit Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Tushar Deshpande. But coming to think of which, with a starting XI like this, would you even want to consider rotating anyone at all?
Overall rating: A+
Kolkata Knight Riders
Playing XI: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c) (wk), Rinku Singh, Siddesh Lad, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi.
Team Overview: The sheer juxtaposition of putting this KKR team with the CSK side we saw above would be quite an image for the sore eye. There, you had a bottom-heavy side with fragile batsmen and here, you have a top-heavy side with a highly inexperienced, untested lower order and bowlers. The problem starts from Rinku Singh at #5. Prasidh and Kuldeep aside, with the latter himself carrying a tarnished IPL reputation with him, this KKR side looks like a team that could end up promising a lot but deliver nothing due to the inexperience.
Bench strength: In the form of Sandeep Warrier, M Siddharth, Pravin Tambe and Nikhil Naik, KKR, you could say, probably possess one of the stronger benches. But then again, given all these players are a level or two below the ones in the starting XI, they will not be of great use to the team.
Playing XI: Manan Vohra, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c), Robin Uthappa, Mahipal Lomror, Riyan Parag, Anuj Rawat (wk), Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi.
Team Overview: This XI right here paints the perfect picture of the rather clumsy job the franchise have done with respect to building their team. Take away the overseas cricketers and RR are left with a bunch of fringe players - except maybe Jaiswal, Samson, Unadkat and Gopal - who just don’t have the quality to make a difference or be match-winners. This team neither has the experience nor the firepower to win matches and it will hardly be a surprise if they end up occupying the bottom half of the table. This would be a great Ranji XI but in the IPL? Nah, not good enough.
Bench strength: In the form of Ankit Rajpoot and Rahul Tewatia, the team does have a bundle of experience on the bench, but given the two are not x-factor players anyway - something that this team so badly needs - it does not make a big difference to the overall look. Nevertheless, they do have some handy options they can turn to, given left-armer Akash Singh is also there.
Kings XI Punjab
Team Overview: It’s no secret that the true strength of an IPL team lies in the quality of its Indian players and this KXIP team just ends up proving that statement. From 1 to 11, the team is flooded with match-winners and I bet you they would be delighted that they retained Sarfaraz and snapped up Ishan Porel - the two were monstrous in the domestic season. The balance might be a bit off given they only have two pacers, but this side right here has more match-winners than any other side we’ve seen thus far, even the mighty Mumbai. Would walk into the playoffs, you’d imagine.
Bench strength: The amount of talented bits-and-pieces players this KXIP side have on the bench is quite fascinating. All three of Deepak Hooda, Simran Singh and Jagadeesha Suchith have the reputation of being dangerous hitters / match-winners and they incidentally also serve as like-for-like replacements for Nalkande, Sarfaraz and Gowtham. They look like quite the formidable team.
Overall rating: A+
Team Overview: The top three of this SRH team - Goswami, Saha and Pandey - on paper, is arguably the most underwhelming of all teams. But then you take a second look and realize that two of those three have clutch IPL hundreds next to their names. And the team gets better as we progress down - much like CSK - and by the time you’re done with one complete iteration, you get a sense that this could be a team that can operate just like the original SRH side - slog their way to wins and rely on their bowlers to get the job done. In Garg and Abhishek Sharma, they also have two of the brightest youngsters in India, so it’s not all ‘age and experience’.
Bench strength: SRH, hands down, have the best bench of any team. The bench pace batter of Thampi-Khaleel-Natarajan alone would walk into the main XI of most of the teams and, on top of that, they also have B Sandeep and Sanjay Yadav, both of who can accumulate runs up top if needed. It’s not fancy or flashy, but quite a decent team, overall.
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